Confession: In the 13 years we’ve been publishing Sedona Monthly, we have never featured Long Canyon Trail. Once we realized the error of our ways, we made a beeline for the trailhead on Long Canyon Road in the Seven Canyons area of Sedona. As its moniker implies, this trail is long – 4.25 miles one way – but most of it is shaded, making it an ideal hike for the warmer months, especially if you get an early start. And here’s another bonus: The red rock formations surrounding the canyon aren’t visible from any road.
Long Canyon Trail begins by traversing sandy terrain surrounded by low-lying chaparral. Hike for almost a mile, and you’ll reach the junction of Long Canyon and Deadmans Pass trails. Deadmans Pass connects Long Canyon with Boynton Canyon. Stay right to continue on Long Canyon. The trail becomes less exposed after the junction. Look to your right for spectacular views of Maroon Mountain. After hiking for 2.5 miles, you cross the first of several dry washes. From here on out, the trail was almost completely shaded during our hike (we started out at 7:30 a.m. in the summer), though it does make a gradual – and steady – climb the entire way. Through the branches of this lush Alpine-like forest, we spotted soaring red rock cliffs, caves, alcoves, Native American ruins, spires and evidence of seasonal waterfalls. Species of wildflowers that we haven’t seen on any other trail were in bloom. Some of the largest Manzanita trees we’ve ever spotted grow in groves in Long Canyon. But it’s not all paradise. Depending on the time of the year, it can be a buggy route, so pack your bug repellant. We were warned that Long Canyon feels desolate, but after hiking within view of Seven Canyons Golf Course and Estates at the beginning and end of the trail, and experiencing the sounds of tour helicopters that frequent the area, we can’t agree with that assessment. Even early in the morning and during the middle of the week, we encountered other hikers.
The trail ends abruptly after 4.25 miles at a rocky slope. Return the way you came for an 8.5-mile hike. All (minor) complaints aside, it’s still a gem in the Sedona trail system. The gentle ascent makes it ideal for families.