Sycamore Canyon makes a great hiking day trip
Photo by Tribe user J Timothy
My friend Pat got me again. For his birthday, rather than the typical, lazy bar-time celebration, he requested a day trip hike to Sycamore Canyon. As it turns out, our day trip up north was far more fun than the usual birthday shenanigans. I will admit though that by the end of the day, there may have been a drink or two.
The moment you step from the car and look down upon Sycamore Canyon, you’ll notice that it looks like an oasis in the middle of a desert. Then about half a mile into your hike, you’ll wonder if you’re actually still in the desert at all! The trail itself isn’t rough terrain; for the most part it has a clear worn path in the dirt and sand. We came across a few fifteen-foot wide shallow brooks that unless you wanted to soak your shoes required you to jump from rock to rock. If this accident-prone blogger can make it across a few of these rocky obstacle courses without falling in, I have faith you can do the same!
As if the plant life and vastly temperature-shifting hike weren’t enough, the final destination of this trail will take your breath away. About a mile and a half into the hike you’ll suddenly arrive at the most unsuspecting swimming hole imaginable here in the middle of the desert. This pebble and sand beach is the perfect spot to take a dip in the water, plop down on a towel, and enjoy a picnic lunch with friends. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, there is a 20-foot (or so), rock formation just above the water that makes quite the cliff diving launch pad. I won’t even pretend like I was brave enough to jump, but I did see it done and it looked like a blast!
You can reach Sycamore Canyon in Clarkdale, Arizona, which is a tiny town just between the town of Cottonwood and the town of Jerome, AKA the largest ghost town in America. You’ll probably need to Google Clarkdale, because it’s that tiny of a town. My best recommendation is to head toward Cottonwood and follow the signs to the Tuzigoot National Monument, and hang a left on Sycamore Canyon Road just before you reach the Tuzigoot ruins visitor center. This is no understatement when I say that you should plan on bribing your friend with the biggest truck and toughest suspension to make this trek down the 5 miles or so, winding dirt road. It’s a tough drive but completely worth it.
After our solid half-day hiking and enjoying the chilly natural swimming hole, we piled back into the truck and headed further down the road to Jerome to grab the mandatory birthday drink for our gutsy friend, Pat. I’ll be sure to share more about Jerome here soon enough!
Take the trip up to Sycamore Canyon, I can promise you that you will not be in the least bit disappointed. As Pat put it, “Sycamore Canyon is the perfect trail for sights, sounds, and smells”, and I would add, a guaranteed great day outdoors.