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Hiking Arizona’s Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness

Arizona's Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness is so incredible, you'll want to tell the whole world.

EXPEDITION PLANNER

DRIVE TIME: Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness is minutes from Sedona, 110 miles north of Phoenix, and 25 miles south of Flagstaff.

THE WAY: From AZ 89A at the southern border of Sedona, turn right (north) onto Dry Creek Road (Forest Service Road 152C). Continue for 2 miles and then turn right onto Forest Service Road 152 and drive 3.2 miles to the Secret Canyon trailhead (on the left). The unpaved Forest Service Road 152 usually is passable with low-clearance vehicles.

TRAILS: Most trails in the wilderness dead-end in canyons, so hikers who want more miles should combine several trails. From junctions along the 5-mile Secret Canyon Trail, you can access another 8 miles of trail. H.S. Canyon Trail diverges south into another dead-end canyon, while the new Dave Miller Trail (not shown on most maps) connects to Bear Sign Canyon Trail. For the 16-mile-round-trip Loy Canyon-Secret Mountain route, start at the Loy Canyon trailhead on Forest Service Road 525.

ELEVATION: The canyon floor is 4,700 feet, while Secret Mountain tops out at 6,600 feet.

CAN’T MISS: Sunset on the red rocks.

CROWD CONTROL: Spring is the most popular backpacking season in Red

Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. Go before March for the best chance of solitude.

GUIDES: Hiking Northern Arizona, by Bruce Grubbs (Falcon, 800-582-2665; www.falcon.com; $12.95). USGS 7.5-minute quads of Wilson Mountain and Loy Butte (888-ASK-USGS; http://ask.usgs.gov; $4 each).

WALK SOFTLY: The desert environment is more fragile than it looks. Cactus, yucca, and agave are damaged easily, so stay on the trails.

CONTACT: Coconino National Forest, Sedona Ranger District, (520) 282-4119; www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino

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