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There are plenty of great hiking spots in Oak Creek Canyon, but West Fork is by far the best. The trail, which starts in a small meadow, follows the creek through lush riparian areas and shady groves before it slices into a narrow slot canyon. The large trees and 200-foot-tall canyon walls provide lots of shade, which is a blissful relief during the hot summer.
The initial three-mile trek will suit most visitors, and even first-time hikers will enjoy the easy, flat trail. Serious explorers, though, can penetrate even farther into the deep, forested canyon, where they’ll need to wade into the creek—and even swim in some spots. The vegetation gets thicker and the trail less defined, and it takes a full day to make the additional 11 miles.
Getting to West Fork
To find the trail, take Highway 89A past mile marker 385 to the Call of the Canyon Recreation Area, named after the classic Western novel Zane Grey wrote after a visit to the area. There is a fee of $8 per vehicle, and you must notify the rangers if you are planning to backpack overnight.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition