Traveling in North-central Arizona for some hiking and some local beers I decided on a few contrasting stops. Sedona for the cosmic foo-foo scene, Flagstaff (read the article) for the mountain college town scene, and Cottonwood (read the article) for small town off-the-beaten track rustic scene.
Sedona Arizona has become a quite famous destination in the Southwest United States owing to its stunning natural beauty. My “cosmic foo-foo” impression comes from experiences at restaurants and shops over the years I have stopped in there. Unsurprisingly, there are a large number of retirees and vacation homes in the area and development has changed the nature of this area quite considerably over the past fifty years.
Even with all of the development, there is alot of open space laced with trails spread throughout the town. For this visit, I decided to do a loop starting in West Sedona in an area called Carroll Canyon. This is a hilly area where there are several interconnected trails. The hilliness screens much of the surrounding development so between the interruptions of sightseeing flights overhead you get spurts of a reasonably isolated experience hiking in this area. The hills don’t hinder the many grand views of the dramatic red rock formations that Sedona is famous for.
I accessed the Carroll Canyon trails from the Shelby Road trailhead which is located in a small industrial area South of US highway 89A leading into Sedona from the West. When I visited, the beginning of the trail was obscured by a huge bush so I almost didn’t spot it. Once past the bush though, the trail was easy to follow and fairly well signed.
The particular combination of trails I connected into a loop made for a hike of about 12 kilometers. There are multiple options for loops and in-and-outs though so a person could probably dream up whatever shorter distance they would like.
Majestic red rock formations are interspersed throughout the community. Out on the trail, there were abundant wildflowers. Be prepared for sun and heat because here isn’t much shade once you are out on the trail.
You may have heard that Sedona was a “power center” for an event called the “harmonic convergence” that was held in 1987. The moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter was aligned with Mars, I think. This is part of my reason for tagging the place with the “cosmic foo-foo” label. A power center is a place where spiritual energy was thought to be particularly strong and a few thousand came to Sedona for the event to meditate and hum together for seven minutes (if you can do that you have plenty of lungs for the hike).
To this day, Sedona is said to be home to more than one vortex. So what is a vortex, anyway? Well, you see them in everyday life. The turbulent flow of water makes vortices. If you have ever seen a whirlpool in a river, flushed a toilet, or watched water going down the drain in the bathtub you have probably seen a vortex.
In Sedona, vortices are said to be created, not by wind or water, but from spiritual energy. There is a tourism niche industry that is established around the existence of these vortices — you can read more about all of this here. The vortices of Sedona are believed to be spiritual locations where the energy is right to facilitate prayer, meditation, and healing. At the very least, they are a great reason for a hike if you ask me. The Cathedral Rock vortex is along the way on the hike I took — it was a great place to have a drink and take in the view.
Following the hike, I went looking for one of Sedona’s three breweries — the Oak Creek Brewing Company — to quench a substantial thirst. This turned out to be a small place tucked away off the beaten track. They had a nice assortment of brew styles and I settled in on a very quaffable Gold Lager, a Gold Medal winner, in the North American Brewers’ Association Competition .
I’m looking forward to exploring a different trail and a different brewery on a future trip.