Kel Fox Trail is a deceptive hike. For long stretches it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere -- the vista dominated by volcanic rock; nice, green open spaces behind you as you walk the other way; and otherwise not much to write home about. But then, when you've just about decided this walk has no payoff, suddenly spreading out before you is an unexpectedly sweeping view of the Village of Oak Creek -- so much for wandering in the wilderness!
You won't be climbing any red rocks on the Kel Fox Trail; it's a relatively easy stroll, with some slight ups and downs. The isolation of it may make it feel a little unnerving, however. The drive to the start of the trail leaves you in an area that hardly seems well traveled.
The trail itself is also longer than you might surmise -- from the time you spot Oak Creek in the distance, at several points you'll feel like you've got to be close to the end, only to find the trail stretches on to another twist, and you're again ambling to parts unknown.
The high point comes about three-quarters of the way in, when you reach the clearing that gives you the best view, including the red rocks that fill in the background beyond the Village. If you had been wondering what you were doing on this trail earlier, reaching this area provides a very satisfying answer.
Carry on to the end of the trail and you'll get more exercise, but no further thrills. Remember, you still have a long walk back, so turning around once you've gotten an eyeful of the Village is not a bad idea. If you do trudge on, it won't be long before you'll find yourself at a nondescript fence that opens onto a paved road in a residential area. It's a rather underwhelming ending, and miles away -- literally and in feel -- from the open spaces at the other end where you began.
DIRECTIONS: Take Hwy 179 southeast at the "Y" approximately 10.4 miles. Turn right on Beaverhead Flat Scenic Rd. (#78 Yavapai County). Continue ahead .6 miles, then turn right onto FR 9501L past a shallow wash. Follow the dirt road (FR 9501L) all the way to the dried up pond. A Red Rock Pass is required for parking.