Sometimes you just want to walk in the woods, Hansel-and-Gretel style. That’s when you need to explore Loy Canyon and Loy Canyon Trail. The trail meanders along the floor of the canyon for 4 relatively flat miles before it climbs to the top of the Mogollon Rim (1,000 feet in one mile). There’s no need to make the climb, especially when it’s hot. Instead, spend a few hours in a shaded forest surrounding by wildflowers, buzzing carpenter bees and tall pine trees. Trust us, it’s good for the soul.
Loy Canyon Trail was used in the 1880s by the Samuel Loy family to move cattle from the rim to Sedona, according to a plaque at the trailhead. The trail passes by the Hancock Ranch, so be respectful of private property. At the beginning of the hike, you’ll enjoy views of Loy Butte, a knobby red rock monolith on your left. The trail crosses a dry wash several times; after hiking 1.64 miles and crossing the wash, look left for great views of another butte with its spires and seemingly balanced rocks. When you’ve hiked 1.96 miles from the trailhead, you’ll come to a fork – turn right. At this point, the red rock views become fewer and far between, and instead it’s about a dense forest, the floor littered with dead leaves and pinecones. Though the trail remains flat, it is sandy in many spots, making it slow going at times. We hiked until the trail began to climb, and then warm temperatures told us it was time to turn back. On the way out, after we had been hiking 4.75 miles, we spied Native American ruins halfway up Loy Butte (now on our right). For some reason we didn’t spot the ruins on our way into the canyon, but a keen eye will locate them immediately. Enjoy the views, and then return to your car for a 6-mile round-trip walk that’s accessible to all hikers, regardless of experience.