After hiking Sedona’s trails for more years than we care to admit, we’ve realized there aren’t a lot of trails for beginning hikers, those out for a casual Sunday stroll or families with young kids. If you fall into any of these categories (or if the summer heat just makes you lazy), check out Wilson Canyon Trail. Because it begins at one of the most popular stops in Oak Creek Canyon, Midgley Bridge, you’ll want to hike this trail early in the morning, in the evening or in the middle of the week. Otherwise parking might pose a bigger challenge than the hike.
From the trailhead, begin hiking north with Midgely Bridge behind you. The trail quickly forks – follow the cairns and veer right. At the beginning of the hike, telephone wires obscure your views, but you will quickly pass under the wires and enter shallow Wilson Canyon, the sounds of SR 89A disappearing behind you. After hiking for a little less than a half-mile, you’ll cross a shallow stream. During our hike, there was a trickle of water and some small pools in this area. You will cross the streambed numerous times along your hike, but for the vast majority of the year, the streambed is dry. You will reach the junction of Wilson Canyon and Jim Thompson trails after you’ve hiked .71 mile. Make a slight right to continue into Wilson Canyon. You are now hiking in Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. It’s wooded and shaded in this area with towering red rock walls on either side. We heard woodpeckers and buzzing bees on our hike and little else.
The trail officially ends 1.4 miles from the trailhead, but if you end here, you miss the best views. Walk a couple hundred feet beyond the end-of-trail sign and look for a pathway on the right. Climb up the rocks, and you’ll be treated to one-of-a-kind views of the red rock cliffs and spires at the back of this box canyon. You’ll have a 360-degree view from this vantage point. Look for the lava-encrusted top of Wilson Mountain and the backside of Schnebly Hill. Blooming manzanitas give off a honey-like fragrance, and natural outcroppings offer plenty of places to sit and enjoy the views. Even after exploring this area, we had only hiked 1.5 miles from the car. Return the way you came for an easy, serene 3-mile round-trip hike.