New England in Arizona: A Fall Hike Along the Colorful West Fork Trail
It’s no surprise that the leafy West Fork Trail in picturesque Oak Creek Canyon is one of the top trails in all of Arizona. Each summer, thousands and thousands of tourists and locals alike take the scenic drive down the canyon to enjoy the beauty of this unusual Arizona hiking trail. The West Fork Trail is located on the scenic Oak Creek Canyon drive, a gorgeous 14 mile long canyon located between Flagstaff and Sedona. This drive is frequently regarded as one of the most scenic in the country.
Due to the changing altitude and temperatures, the scenery varies vastly along the way. Incredible views range from rare ponderosa pine forests, to towering red rock formations, to beautiful canopies of lush green trees. Beautiful Oak Creek, flowing on the bottom of the canyon, is one of the few year-round streams found in Arizona.
Beautiful Oak Creek Canyon
A summer hike along the West Fork Trail is a magnificent experience. The shady tree coverage provides a nice escape from the endless summer heat. Daytime temps in Sedona are relentlessly hot, sometimes pushing 95+ degrees for weeks on end. To top it off, the majority of the trails in town offer little to no shade.
However, the West Fork Trail offers a drastically different setting than the dry red rock trails. There are 13 fun creek crossings to challenge yourself to along the 3.5 mile out and back journey. Along the way, you’ll be able to take in the beauty of the towering canyon walls. Peaceful flowing creeks add a sense of tranquility. Temps are much cooler here and little sunlight ever reaches the canyon, making it an ideal escape during Sedona’s hot summer months.
Stunning Red Rock Views & Peaceful Creeks
Why Fall is the best time to plan your West Fork hike
When Northern Arizona’s beautiful fall season arrives, the leaves of the oaks and maple along the West Fork trail begin to transform into gorgeous hues of red, orange, and gold. The ponderosa pines contrast dramatically against these colorful autumn leaves. The West Fork’s immense popularity comes from the fact that it is one of few trails in the state to offer the type of fall foliage you would typically only see out East. While neighboring Flagstaff offers the most dazzling fall foliage in Arizona, this is solely in the form of golden aspen trees. If you are looking for something a bit more traditional, then the West Fork is the better option.