For me, Phoenix in a day really means rushing off for a few hours of hiking in Sedona.
During a very short family visit to Phoenix, I found myself with a few extra hours to spare before setting off for the next event on our itinerary. I have nothing against Phoenix, but I don’t know it very well, and I had some things I really hoped to do while we were in the Southwest. One was cooling off in some sort of body of water. The other was to photograph some of that famous Arizona scenery.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much in Phoenix to quench my thirst for the epic landscapes, red rocks, and desert streams that I have seen before in other parts of Arizona. The good news is that Dave was up for a long drive, as long as we were back before his Grandma’s 80th surprise birthday party that evening. So, after about 5 minutes of planning, we hopped in the car and set off with vague plans for hiking in Sedona.
Such spontaneous trips don’t always result in things falling perfectly into place, but everything worked out pretty well for this one. We started off with a quick stop at the Red Rock Information Center, which I always recommend for getting personalized information. A ranger there recommended the closest area where we could do a short hike in the time that we had available. It just so happened that this trail crisscrossed a meandering creek for some time and wound around the picturesque Cathedral Rock formation, so I was pretty stoked!
Hiking the Baldwin Trail
The Baldwin trail began in a desert of red sand and rocks with little shade to be found. I photographed a the surprising number of flowering desert plants along the trail. It was neat to see a little extra color against the red rocks and blue sky. Eventually, we followed the sounds of playing children to our first sighting of Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing. Here it opened up for a nice view of Cathedral Rock in the distance. We carried on, me vowing to take a dip on the way back.
Getting high and mighty about the cairns
We crossed Oak Creek and followed what we thought was the trail continuing into the woods. There was a couple putting finishing touches on a cairn, so I asked if it was meant to mark the trail. They said they were just having fun. Being a little lost and disappointed, I made a remark about how that might confuse someone who was looking for the trail… like us. Dave rightfully reprimanded me for my response when we later found the correct path to follow. After that, we kept hiking past entire fields of cairns. Apparently this is a thing here! I was being mocked by the cairns for my behavior.
Feeling a little ashamed, even though I wasn’t intending my comment to be mean-spirited, we carried on as far as we could before our time started to run out. At one point, we ran into the couple again, and I apologized. They were good-natured and teased me about the whole thing, noting the irony of the huge cairn fields all around us.
When crossing the creek again, I took a dip, if you can even call it that. I sat down in about 3 inches of water, the chilly creek not quite warm enough for this cold water wimp. I also soaked my hat in the water, which has always been my go to trick for keeping cool.
Even though we raced back to Phoenix with just enough time to get ready, we were still able to thoroughly enjoy several hours of hiking in Sedona. And while I would have liked to photograph that area at any other time besides mid-day, which is when we were there, I still came away pretty satisfied with what we saw and experienced.
The best thing about our little Sedona hike?
We can go back some day and spend much more time exploring Sedona! When a place teases you like that, you simply have to go back for more.
My travel advice? Just go! Sometimes it’s not worth all the fuss to make complicated travel plans, especially for a short day trip. Most of my best day outings have been the more spontaneous ones anyway.