Early Saturday morning was the perfect time to search for Sedona Hogs we’d read about…a group of trails, linked together (called the Hogs) that would lead us up and over the backside of one of the large red rock outcroppings.
After winding our way up along the forested Hogwash trail, we reached an intersection that had us scrambling up a section of rocks to join the Hog Heaven section of our hike.
The high point of the trail, aptly named High on the Hog, opened onto a expanse of massive dome-shaped rocks offering a never ending view of the valley below. As we continued on, looping our way back to the parking lot, our peaceful morning was interrupted by a string of people and convoy of jeeps parading toward us from the opposite direction. Time to leave the Hogs behind us!
We bounced down six long miles on a dirt road today, determined to visit the Palatki Heritage Site, one of the two largest cliff dwelling sites found among the red rocks in the Sedona, Arizona area.
After a short walk up through the trees to the bottom of the cliff, we reached the ruins of the ancient Sinagua people who lived in the area from 1150 – 1300 A.D. A ranger was on hand to explain a little bit of what is known about the lives of cliff dwellers.
While the trail up to the base of the chimney stack was well-worn and doable, it wasn’t easy. We later realized that what we scrambled up was an informal (not on the map) trail and not the recommended viewpoint we had been searching for. However, the view we had was pretty darn good!
We followed the Soldiers Pass trail, dropping down to connect with the Jordan trail and then Cibola Pass, leading us back to the parking lot. Above are some of the spectacular sites we saw. Although we got an early start, the trail down was crowded enough to be just a little frustrating in spots. Our advice: Set your alarm if you have to…the earlier start, the better!
We normally prefer circular hikes that allow us to avoid retracing our steps, but there was only one way out of Boynton Canyon…at least only one safe way out. We followed the dusty red trail in until it dropped us down into the forest, beneath a cover of evergreens. Climbing began toward the end of the trail where we scrambled up a narrow channel of boulders, emerging onto a large, smooth rock outcropping, scattered with handful of other determined hikers enjoying the view.
I try to remember to stop and look up every so often when hiking rather than carefully watching where I put my every footstep. The views were on our return trip were incredibly rewarding.
We took the day off hiking to explore several sites just a stones throw from our RV park. First stop: Montezuma Castle National Park where the cliffs hold the history of the Sinagua people, cliff dwellers who populated the area from 1100-1425. We thoroughly enjoyed the park, but were glad we arrived early. The relatively small parking lot filled quickly.
Our next stop: A natural limestone sinkhole surrounded by lush vegetation. Montezuma Well appears as an oasis in a desert setting. An incredible 1.5 million gallons of water bubble up each day from this natural spring so it’s easy to understand why the waters have been used for irrigation since the 8th century.
Our third and last stop was the V-Bar-V Heritage Site, home to the largest collection of Sinagua petroglyphs in the Verde Valley. It was a pleasant stroll out to the site where a ranger was ready and waiting to provide a history and explanation of the ancient art.