If you’re looking for ultra scenic hiking it may be time to head to Sedona Arizona. Sedona and it’s unique red rock scenery not only offers a large selection of hiking trails but also some of the best photo opportunities you’ll find anywhere in North America. One of these fun trails is the West Fork Trail.
Sedona’s West Fork Trail
Many people will tell you that the West Fork Trail is the best hiking trail in Sedona.
This trail is located in the Call of the Canyon Recreation Area about 9.5 miles north of downtown Sedona along Hwy 89A. The trail head is on the left side of the highway when traveling northbound. It is between mileposts 384 and 385. There’s plenty to see along the West Fork Trail as described below.
Near the start of the West Fork Trail you’ll come across the ruins of what was Mayhew’s Lodge. The lodge was built near the confluence of Oak Creek and the West Fork of Oak Creek. Mayhew’s Lodge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 but ended up being delisted in 1980 after it was destroyed by fire. Today, hikers will view ruins of fireplaces and foundations.
History tells us that the first structure built on the site in 1870 by Charles “Bear” Howard. It’s said that Howard killed five bears with his knife thus the nickname.
Later Howard moved further into the canyon and the cabin was occupied in 1881 by the Thomas Family. A second cabin was constructed on the site in 1902 by a Judge Bennett from Phoenix.
The first road through the canyon was built in 1912 and ten years later in 1922 the movie of Zane Grey’s story, The Call of the Canyon starring Richard Dix and Noah Beery, was shot at this site.
Carl Mayhew, a photographer who worked on the Zane Grey movie, liked the area so much that he and a partner purchased the site in 1925. After making the cabins into an operating lodge, Mayhew bought out his partner in 1927. The Howard and Thomas cabins were connected and more rooms were added over the years. After Mayhew’s death in 1943 his family continued operating the lodge.
All in all, the Mayhew Lodge operated from 1925 to 1968. The lodge boasts many famous guests including President Herbert Hoover, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Walt Disney, Cesar Romero, Maureen O’Hara, and Susan Hayward.
During the years of the Mayhew Lodge, many movies were filmed in and around Sedona Arizona drawing in well known actors and actresses. In 1968 the Mayhew Lodge was acquired by the Forest Service when the Mayhew children were unable to manage the property full-time.
What to Expect on the West Fork Trail
The West Fork Trail north of Sedona Arizona offers a little bit of everything. The official trail start is just beyond the Mayhew Lodge ruins. Signage may give you conflicting ideas of the trail’s total length. It’s a good guess to estimate that the trail spans about three miles each way with a total round trip hiking time of about five hours.
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An excellent guide to Sedona’s red rock country includes…Sedona Arizona Red Rock Country Tour Guide Book: Your personal tour guide for Sedona travel adventure! by Waypoint Tours.
Obviously you can make the hike shorter depending on your wishes and abilities. We found the trail to be moderate and accommodating to most day hikers.
The trail is nearly always level and close to the stream for the first three miles. After the three mile mark the trail will climb steeply. The trail does continue past that point for several miles and joins another trail. For our purposes we used the three mile mark as the trail end. A good portion of the trail consists of stepping on rocks so make sure to take along those hiking boots or comfortable footwear.
You’ll cross small streams stepping from rock to rock. Stream crossings one way total six. The stream flows year round through a forested canyon.
Your West Fork Trail hike will lead you through forests, along the stream and past towering walls of red rock giving you some terrific photo opportunities.
Explore Sedona Arizona / Hiking, Historic Sites and Vortexes
The West Fork Trail in Sedona is just one of the many fun recreational opportunities offered in this beautiful part of Arizona. The list of hiking trails in Sedona is large. Off-road jeep tours are also quite popular and will take you to some out of the way sites such as the historic Van Deren Cabin which you might not visit otherwise.
Sedona attractions also include the Chapel of the Holy Cross which was constructed in the red rocks in 1956 and draws tourists from around the world. Sedona also has a world wide reputation as being a spiritual mecca and global power spot. Sedona vortex sites have drawn people to the area for many decades. Vortex sites are believed to be locations having energy flow that exists on multiple dimensions. It is said that the energy from a vortex interacts with a person’s inner self.
(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)