West Fork of Oak Creek Trail or also known as West Fork Trail in Sedona is easily one of the most iconic trails in this Arizonan city. As someone who has hiked over 60+ different trails in Arizona within just a span of 3 years, I have to say West Fork is one of the prettiest trails there is from the others I’ve explored. Now if you’re wondering… is it really worth checking out OR should I skip it? Do NOT skip it because you’re missing out on some of the best views of Arizona you’ll come across.
For so long, this trail has been on my Arizona trails bucket list and I don’t know why I never got myself to just go for it. Maybe because this place is a 2 hour and almost a half drive from my hometown in Arizona and going to Sedona is considered a rarity for me. I think I checked out West Fork at the right time though during the fall time as a solo hiker.
From what I’ve seen and read from others’ experiences, West Fork Trail looks different from the fall time to the summer time, as it is more green during the summer time and then during the fall time, you can see the trees transformed into yellow and orange and the weather is cooler.
Stats of the trail
Distance: 3.3 miles one way/6.6 round trip
Elevation gain: 300 feet
Route type: Out and back
Watch me hike this!
About West Fork Trail
Do you want to hike in a place that has water around you, specifically crossing over streams through rocks? Do you like towering canyons and being enclosed in a dense forest? Then you’ll absolutely love hiking here. If you’ve visited Zion National Park and the Pacific Northwest (specifically Oregon), you’ll definitely feel like you’re seeing a combination of the two here. Not your typical desert hike in Arizona, West Fork Trail is very picturesque in almost each of its corners.
To enter the trail, it is not free and the parking lot can easily get full especially during the early mornings. I came around late noon through sunset, which is easier on finding parking. There is an $11 permit fee to enter the trail.
There are about 13 streams to cross from beginning to end. The water here is reliable for the plants and animals that live around here and these riparian areas are very essential for a healthy ecosystem. The vegetation improves the water quality by filtering the sediments that clean the water and it also reduces floods because the plants almost act like a sponge. Also, beavers do live in these creeks and streams and are also so important to the ecosystem because they build dams that slow the flow of water. If you’re lucky enough, you may even spot a beaver.
At the beginning of the trail, you will notice some ruins of a lodge scattered and a house-like lodge placed there. These ruins are actually from a bed-and-breakfast that operated in 1926 through 1968, when the Mayhew Family decided to close the bed-and-breakfast called Mayhew Lodge. The history of it is cool because they had notable guests like politicians and Hollywood stars like Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, and Walt Disney visit. But when it closed in 1968, shortly after, the family sold it to the US Forest Service and then a wildfire hit the lodge in 1980, destroying most of what remains and so what remains is that house-like lodge and a chicken coop.
What to wear for West Fork Trail
Because this hike is different from desert hikes around Phoenix valley, you’ll need to be prepared that you’re wearing the right attire for the hike. Since there’s water involved on the trail a lot, the shoes you wear will matter.
I found it so much easier to cross the creek streams by wearing sturdy waterproof boots. My feet stayed dried the whole time and I even accidentally stepped into some sections of water that were deeper when I underestimated my footing.
The water could be colder depending on the season you’re hiking this trail, so that’s why I would opt to wear waterproof boots. If you rather prefer wearing water shoes and hiking sandals to get your feet soaked, then by all means, you can. I would then also bring a towel and even extra socks, in case you chose to wear boots and your feet get accidentally wet and everyone knows how miserable it is to hike in wet socks and shoes.
More tips on hiking West Fork Trail
There are a lot of beautiful spots on this one trail alone. There is also a lot of shade to catch on this hike, but obviously, you still want to make sure you brought along plenty of water with you, regardless of the weather. Most of the path will be sandy and flat and towards the end, you will come across a creek where the water levels will be deeper than the streams.
Last recommendation, you should bring your camera! It is picturesque and a photographer’s paradise and although I solo hiked here (and will most likely continue to), I would bring a sturdy tripod to take those solo shots and keep your gear away from the water as much as possible with plenty of dry flat land to stand your tripod on. But of course, enjoy the nature that is here for most of your time.