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The second largest canyon to emerge from Arizona's Red Rock Country is a lesser known, but just as scenic, cousin of famous Oak Creek Canyon. But you won't find any roads, developed campgrounds or crowds in Sycamore Canyon, just 55,937 acres of wilderness marked by colorful cliffs, soaring pinnacles and one of the world's rarest habitats, a desert riparian area. The wilderness encompasses all of Sycamore Canyon from its forested rim near Williams, Arizona to its desert canyon mouth in the Verde Valley. This area is home to black bear and mountain lion as well as a number of less celebrated but just as notable creatures.
At night, in the flicker of your dying fire, you may catch a glimpse of a notorious camp robber, the bandit-masked ringtail cat making off with a bit of tomorrow's lunch. Recently these wide-eyed relatives of the raccoon were designated Arizona's state animal in a poll of the state's school children. More likely you'll notice canyon wrens and hermit thrushes along the trail during the day. They'll catch your ear as well as your eye. If you hike to Taylor Cabin you'll see the picturesque lair of another of the canyon's historic residents, the American cowboy. The Parsons Spring Trail meanders up a fertile desert riparian area, a habitat as rare as it is productive. The Sycamore Rim Trail (Kaibab National Forest) skirts the canyon's upper reaches through an area of secluded pools and tall forests.
This area is sufficiently unique to have been the first in Arizona to be designated a Wilderness Area in the 1972. A number of trails provide access to its beautiful and fragile landscape. This guide mentions only the most prominent. Those who wish to explore further will find much to reward their efforts.
Attractions: Wilderness solitude, trails for hiking and horseback riding, red rocks, pinnacles, buttes and arches, photography & wildlife viewing, swimming, and fishing, history (Native American ruins, historic cabins).
Trails in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness
At a Glance
||Sedona, AZ, and Flagstaff, AZ
||Red Rock Ranger District 928-203-2900 and Flagstaff Ranger District 928-526-0866
Location: About 40 southwest of Flagstaff by roads that start paved and get progressively rougher.
Access: You may get to this area from a number of highways and Forest Service roads. Major access points are off Route 66/FR 231, U.S. 89A, and FR's 152, 152D, 152C, 525, 538E, 538G and 538H.
Click map graphic for printable view.
No mechanized vehicles including bicycles in the Wilderness.
Fire danger is usually high - be careful with campfires.
Camp at least 200 feet from springs and bury human waste 200 feet from springs. Pack out all trash.
Leave No Trace: Recognize your role in preserving wild lands by practicing these Leave No Trace principles:
Plan ahead and prepare.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
Dispose of waste properly.
Leave what you find.
Minimize campfire impacts.
Be considerate of other visitors.
Trails in the Wilderness
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness straddles the borders of the Coconino, Kaibab, and Prescott National Forests. Trails in Sycamore Canyon are managed by the Flagstaff and Red Rock Districts of the Coconino National Forest, and by the Kaibab National Forest.
The Wilderness Institute
The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Map is available from Coconino National Forest offices or by phone 928-527-3600 using Visa, MasterCard or Discover Card.