West Fork Trail, Call of the Canyon - West Fork Trailhead, Sedona: Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness, Arizona
West Fork Trail - 6.4 Miles
Call of the Canyon - West Fork Trailhead
West Fork Trail
|Round-Trip Length:||6.4 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,317' - 5,586' (5,646' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+269' net elevation gain (+732' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The West Fork Trail begins at the Call O' The Canyon Trailhead, 10.4 miles north of Highway 179 on 89A. This famed trail follows the West Fork of Oak Creek 3.2 miles through Oak Creek Canyon to its maintained terminus, where hikers may either turnaround or continue upstream through ankle - chest high water.
The unmaintained portion runs 11 miles upstream in the creek itself to FR 231, where shuttles can be arranged to pick up thru-hikers. Dispersed camping is permitted 6 miles from the trailhead. Many visitors compare this water hike to the Narrows of Zion National Park.
Oak Creek Canyon is known for its towering walls and lush, diversely vegetated stream banks.
Pinyon, ponderosa, cottonwood, various oak, maple, and fir form an enveloping canopy over the trail while fern, lupine, horsetail, wildflowers, and ivy cover the forest floor. This leafy riparian thoroughfare produces one of the finest autumn color displays in northern Arizona.
The West Fork Trail is shaded throughout, and cool on even the hottest days. Stream crossings are frequent, but in almost every case you needn't get wet.
All of these factors make the West Fork Trail one of Sedona's most popular destinations. See additional information below on fees, parking, camping, fishing, and tips on maximizing your time in the West Fork:
The trail begins on a paved path that drops over Oak Creek and along the exterior canyon wall to the Wilderness Boundary (.35 miles : 5,302').
Here it hooks into the canyon, and is immediately enveloped by timber. The trail rolls gently up-canyon with several easy stream crossings and little net elevation gain over the first 2.5 miles. Wired cairns provide excellent guidance, but may be tricky to locate at crossings.
Grades are variously rugged and steep on the last half mile, undulating to the edge of a narrow, deep water slot (3.2 miles : 5,584'). This is the end of the maintained trail, and beginning of the water hike.
The slot before you (pictured above) holds some of the canyon's deepest water, which dissuades many hikers. Brave this short section and you'll emerge in much shallower water that can be comfortably hiked for some time. Some of the canyon's most interesting slots are located just beyond the maintained trail.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N34 59.435 W111 44.588 — 0.0 miles : West Fork Trailhead
- N34 59.277 W111 44.790 — .35 miles : Wilderness Boundary - drop into canyon
- N34 59.406 W111 44.937 — .8 miles : Easy-Moderate travel in forest along creek
- N34 59.778 W111 44.921 — 1.3 miles : Easy-Moderate travel in forest along creek
- N34 59.840 W111 45.241 — 1.8 miles : Easy-Moderate travel in forest along creek
- N34 59.908 W111 45.517 — 2.15 miles : Easy-Moderate travel in forest along creek
- N35 00.122 W111 45.603 — 2.45 miles : Wide stream crossing with views
- N35 00.155 W111 45.875 — 2.8 miles : Some steep, undulating sections
- N35 00.141 W111 46.074 — 3.2 miles : Trail ends - x country travel in creek begi
- N35 00.070 W111 46.142 — 3.65 miles : Water level drops
- N35 00.202 W111 46.517 — 4.1 miles : Travel in variously shallow waters
- N35 00.231 W111 46.633 — 4.55 miles : Deep pools - ideal day hike turnaround
- Consider arriving before 9 am, parking along 89A, and walking in to avoid crowds and bottlenecks at the fee station. Weekdays see considerably less congestion.
- The West Fork Trail follows a leafy riparian corridor that produces brilliant autumn colors. Leaves usually turn in October, but the peak will vary from year to year - call ahead for status.
- Poison oak, ivy, and bugs are common along this trail. Sleeves, pants, and socks are recommended.
- Be mindful of social trails that emanate from the main, especially near the creek. The creek provides definitive guidance, so it's nearly impossible to lose your way.
- Recommended map for overnights: Wilson Mt. & Dutton Hill USGS quads.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- There are no designated backcountry campsites along the West Fork Trail. Dispersed camping is permitted. It's advisable to contact visitor services at 928.203.2900 to review your itinerary in advance.
- Backpackers must be at least 6 miles from the Call O' The Canyon Trailhead. To reach this demarcation, backpackers should anticipate potentially deep, cold water crossings and short swims. Dry bags and extra layers are recommended.
- Inform the private concessionaire collecting fees of your itinerary before setting out.
- Backpackers are encouraged to occupy sites used by others, and practice leave no trace ethics.
- Campfires are permitted on a seasonal and conditional basis. Fire restrictions are strictly enforced.
- Bears and others animals capable of reaching your food inhabit Red Rock Country. Store supplies safely by hanging or using bear canisters.
- There are 7 developed campgrounds in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness vicinity: Pine Flat, Cave Springs, Manzanita, Chavez Crossing, Clear Creek, and Clear Creek Group Camp. There are at least 186 combined individual sites and 4 group sites.
- Individual sites range $16-18 per night, and group sites $65-200. Coconino Forest Campgrounds do not accept Credit Cards on site (except Cave Springs). Cash and in-state checks only. Reservations and credit card payments may be made in advance through Recreation.gov or by calling877.444.6777.
- Fishing is permitted in Oak Creek with a valid state fishing license.
- Only arificial flies, lures and barb-less hooks may be used.
- Catch and release only. Fish must be released immediately.
Rules and Regulations
There's a $9 fee to access the Call of the Canyon Trailhead. This fee is separate from the Red Rock Pass - the Red Rock Pass is not honored at this privately managed access point to the West Fork Trail.
The Call O' The Canyon - West Fork Trailhead is located along 89A, 10.4 miles north of the Highway 179 - 89A split in Sedona, AZ. The trailhead is located on the west side of the road.
The parking gates open at 9 am, and you can expect a line of cars waiting to get in on most weekends. Additional parking is located along the road, requiring a short walk.
Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
Red Rock Ranger District
8375 State Route 179 (just south of the village of Oak Creek)
Sedona, Arizona 86341
8:00 - 4:30 Monday - Friday
Visitor Information: 928.203.2900
Administration Office: 928.203.7500 or 928.282.4119
Coconino National Forest
1824 S. Thompson St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Visitor Information: 928.526.0866
Supervisor's Office: 928.527.3600