Long Canyon

Long Canyon in Sedona

If you’re in the mood for an easy and pleasant hike that ambles along for awhile along a level, and often sandy, wide, old jeep road, offers ambient, picturesque red rock scenery, is as perfect for a meditative stroll as it is for a large hiking group, and is also considered an area of powerful energies (it’s sometimes called the Long Canyon vortex), then this may be the ideal trail for you.  Many feel that the energy here is at once both serene and yet (gently) expansive and uplifting.  In other words, you just feel good here.

Sinaguan Ruins

As an extra added attraction, when you reach the end of the trail at a red sandstone cliff, you will find a few small Sinaguan Indian ruins and some rock pictographs. If you’re stoked for more action, you have the option of scrambling up more steep cliffs in the upper canyon and searching along narrow ledges for more old Sinaguan dwellings and some gorgeous caves. As always, though, please do not take anything from these sites and walk gently among them.

The Flora

As you enter the trail, you will notice it runs along an old streambed where, though it hardly ever harbors any water, riparian vegetation is still alive and well.  Along the way, the desert foliage of cypress, pinyon, juniper, yucca, Manzanita, agave, prickly pear gradually transitions, once you enter the canyon around 1.5 miles from the trailhead, to a few small ash and live oaks, then Ponderosa pines. Soon, you will be surrounded by Gambrel oaks and Douglas firs and leafy trees like oak, cottonwood, willow, sycamore, and then, deeper in, maple trees.

Note: It’s best to stay on the trail for, if you wander off, just stepping on those black soil (cryptobiotic) crusts that are alive with cyanobacteria will adversely affect this delicate ecosystem for years.

Red Rock Scenery

The ever present, but always magnificent, carved red rock buttes and cliffs have some special names here – try and pick out Steamboat Rock, Wilson Mountain, and Maroon Mountain amid all the other spires and grand formations still yet unnamed.

How to Get Here:

From uptown at the roundabout, drive west to West Sedona about three miles to Dry Creek Road. Turn right and drive about a mile and a half to Long Canyon Road (FR 152D); turn right again and continue for about 0.5 miles to the Long Canyon trailhead on your left.

 FAQs:

  • Open year round.
  • Difficulty: Easy for the first 3 miles, then progressing to a moderate level.
  • Usage: Light to Moderate. Generally, you’ll have the trail mostly to yourself.
  • Elevation gain: 1,134 feet over the round trip full length of the trail.
  • Hiking time: about 4 hours round trip.
  • Length: 7.7 miles round trip
  • Red Rock pass required
  • Facilities: none
    • No motorized vehicles allowed in the wilderness. Mountain bikes permitted until about .9 miles to the juncture, where you will either turn back or turn left to continue on Deadman’s Pass.
    • Dogs and horses allowed.

 Special Tips

  • Sandals for warmer weather are fine, but if you plan on going more than the 3 miles and plan on climbing, especially at the end of trail, wear hiking boots.
  • Always take plenty of water and perhaps pack a snack (remember, leave no trace).
  • Suggestion: Binoculars and/or a camera.
  • Great for trail running!
  • If you happen to see or hear a helicopter buzzing about, don’t panic, they’re not after you. It’s just the occasional skyward red rock tour.
  • You’ll notice a resort development in the distance to your right. This is where you will enter to get to Rachel’s Knoll (see below).

A Quick Glance at What’s Ahead:

  • Mile 1:  Flat, mostly wide trail to Dead Man’s Pass Trail split.
  • Mile 1.5:  You’ll begin to enter the mouth of the canyon.
  • Mile 2:  Easy going on mostly level trail through desert and riparian ecosystem.
  • Mile 2.5:  You’ll cross a wash and the canyon walls will start to close in (not like in a horror movie, though)
  • Mile 3:  You’ll come to wash crossings marked with cairns (red rock stone mounds).
  • Mile 3.5:  Now it gets rugged with canyon crevices and some climbing.
  • Mile 3.85:  By this point, the trail fades out along the canyon wall.

 

Option: Deadman’s Pass

About a mile into the Long Canyon Trail (see above), you’ll see a signpost indicating Deadman’s Pass to your left.  Whether you’re atop a horse or a mountain bike (and if the latter, you must either turn back or go left), this is a great trail that offers easy riding and connects to Boynton Canyon Trail.  For hiking, it is approximately 30 minutes one way, with an elevation gain of 300 feet, and is rated “easy.”

 

Option: Rachel’s Knoll

 This is a very special place, especially for meditating, that has a long history in Sedona.  It was originally owned by a woman named Rachel who found it after a great deal of looking for the perfect piece of land.  She immediately realized its special energy and decided, because the land had been sacred to the area’s Native Americans, to open one portion, the Knoll, to the public so that everyone could enjoy it and honor those who had lived here before. You can view the complete history of Rachel’s Knoll by Pat Krause here. OPEN 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.

Directions to Rachel’s Knoll:

  • After your Long Canyon hike (or before), head to the end of the road and you will approach the Seven Canyons Resort.
  • At the gate, just tell the guard that you are going to Rachel’s Knoll. He will give you directions and usually will not ask you to sign an agreement. At the knoll, you will be able to park at a small, unpaved lot right next to it.
  • Walk up to the area and you’ll notice a path that goes around and through the knoll.
  • MEDITATE and enjoy – this is the perfect spot because there is hardly ever anyone here!