Kuma’s Great Adventures

Kuma’s Great Adventures

Told by Kuma and written by Lorraine Bossé-Smith

Loy Canyon in Sedona

I love living on the north end of Phoenix because it gives
us easy access to one of the most amazing places on Earth: Sedona. Me and my
family are always up for the short drive north to explore red rock country.

This outing, we drove to Cottonwood and connected with the
89A from there. That allowed us to bypass all the traffic in Sedona. On a busy
weekend, it is slow going through all the roundabouts. Anyway, we then took FR
525 and followed the signs toward Loy Butte. At this point, it is 9.3 miles on
a dirt road to the trailhead. Any vehicle could handle it, but you will get
dusty. Watch for signs on your right and a parking area on your left just
before crossing a cattle guard on the way into the Hancock Ranch.

Apparently, the trail is used as a cattle route, which makes
sense since the Hancock Ranch is still active. Humans, dogs and horses are
allowed, but we must all stay on the trail since the ranch is private property.
No bicycles or motorized vehicles allowed. You won’t have to pay any fee, but
you will need to display your park pass.

The trail is easy to moderate with little elevation gain
until the very end, when you can hike straight up a butte. Off we went! The
beginning of the trail leads you to a fenced area that protects the Hancock
Ranch cattle from getting out. I could hear them mooing in the distance. I said
“Woof!” as a hello. Just stay on the trail and keep going. I noticed right away
that the dirt was soft. My mom said that in the summer, that dirt probably gets
hot for doggy paws, so keep that in mind.

As we continued past the ranch, the path changed from red
sand to pine needles. Yes, we were in the trees! On the one side of the trail
are beautiful red rock formations, and on the other, Loy Butte, named after the
gentleman who made this trail for his cattle. Very cool! Just past the ranch,
we met some folks who were returning from a short arm off the trail that leads
to some hieroglyphics. We saw some last weekend, so we opted to keep going. We
were hoping to get 7 or 8 miles in. If you wanted something shorter, this would
be an excellent choice. You’d take the only right off the path past the ranch,
and it would be close to a three-and-a-half mile loop. As for us, we pressed
on!

The winds were kicking up, but we were protected in the
trees. The further in the canyon we went, the more snow we started to see. Yeah
baby! I dig snow: literally! If you haven’t dug in snow, you are truly missing
out. We got to the base of the butte and opted to have our lunch here. The
trail gets much steeper and rockier at this point. With the high winds, it
wasn’t going to be a pleasant hike, and the path was kind of icy. My dad made
some hot tea, and my mom fed me some meat. We enjoyed the views and quiet while
we ate. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail once we got past the ranch. No
one to worship me! Oh well, I lived.

Heading back went fast, as it is basically all downhill or
flat. Still, it took us 90 minutes up and 90 minutes back for just over 7 and a
half miles total. If you should go all the way to the top, you would add
another 3 miles. Allow plenty of time.

When we got back to the car, we noticed a sign for the
Honanki Ruins. We drove less than one-fourth of a mile from the parking lot to
the entrance, but they were closed. Their hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and
you must pay a fee for humans, and I don’t think dogs are allowed. We saw some
of the cliff dwellings in the distance but will have to return another day to
visit the largest cliff dwellings in the Red Rock Country, dated between 1150
and 1350. The Sinagua, ancestors of the Hopi, lived here preparing meals,
raising their families and making tools from stone, leather and wood.

I settled into my bed for the 2-hour drive home. Sedona
never disappoints. If you are yearning for red rocks, this trail gives you all
the beauty without the crowds. Get out there! Nature is calling. 

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