Turkey Creek Trail
The one thing I’m most grateful for here in Sedona is that there’s always a place to find some sweet solitude. Current events had me in a funk this Sunday morning. Therefore, I decided that the only thing to do was to lace up my tennis shoes and reduce my cortisol levels via the magic of sunshine, vitamin D, and some of the best hiking anywhere in the world.
Turkey Creek Trail offered precisely what I wanted this crisp fall morning — a place where I could wander lonely as a cloud. Like many trails on the wilder east side of town, it has relatively few markers pointing tourists and yours truly where to go.
I highly recommend investing in a compass app and a backup of the real deal in case your phone dies. It only sounds like overkill until you come to a junction of three unmarked trails in the middle of nowhere!
This hike is a pleasant out-and-back that goes almost 5 miles to the dot. It’s rated moderate on the AllTrails app, but I found the walking easygoing.
As you come around the first curve, you’ll spot Thunder Mountain in the distance. At some points on this trail, you enjoy breathtaking views without having to do any bouldering or huff and puff too hard.
You’ll cross the often-dry creek bed several times on your trek. At one, I spied a glorious specimen of Golden Crownbeard. Although the Spanish name for this plant, Añil de muerte, translates roughly to the blueness of death, it has many lifegiving properties. The Navajo used it as a treatment for intestinal gas — I wonder if it would make a useful addition to kombucha?
Of course, I’d have to learn how to make kombucha first.
Exercise caution at the many crossings. At several locations, you’ll face a choice of several possible paths. Since getting embarrassingly lost a few weeks back, I started a process I call “bread-crumbing.” While you never want to build a cairn — they could lead other hikers astray — I take a uniquely colored rock and place it on the path I chose so that I can find my way back.
You’ll get another view of the Three Sisters — you might recall this formation from Red Rock State Park. It can take an hour or more to travel there from the Village by car when weekend tourist traffic hits. It might be faster to walk if you know the way and have the muscle endurance.
The trail comes to an end as you head towards Oak Creek, although I have little doubt you could continue further. Several smaller paths branch off as the main one peters out a bit. I felt sufficiently calmed, my mood as restored as 2020 will allow, so I prudently retraced my steps.
On the return trip, you catch gorgeous views of Cathedral Rock. You’ll also see the Seven Warriors as you near the end.
Getting there if you go: Take Highway 179 south from the “Y” and turn right on Verde Valley School Road. Follow this until the pavement ends — you won’t need a high-clearance vehicle, but 4WD helps. Follow the signs to the Turkey Creek parking area.