Saturday, February 16, 2013

Coconino National Forest: Parsons Trail

After exploring Tuzigoot National Monument I headed out of the site and back towards Cottonwood. However, just before I came to the Verde River I turned onto a road, Sycamore Canyon Road, for the drive to Sycamore Canyon and the Parsons Trail. The road got increasingly rougher the farther along I drove and ended at the trailhead parking area and a nice overlook of Sycamore Canyon.
Sycamore Canyon Overlook photo SycamoreCanyonOverlook_zps9148c2df.jpg
I quickly readied my pack for the hike in the canyon and hit the trail.

The hike began with a steep descent to the canyon bottom where there were lots of deciduous trees including the canyon's namesake Arizona sycamores. I followed a stream up the canyon eventually coming to a gushing spring called Summers Spring.  
Summers Spring photo SummersSpring_zps658b0f1e.jpg
From Summers Spring I followed the trail up the canyon through some wonderful scenery.
Parsons Trail photo ParsonsTrail_zpse179f3a2.jpg
Soon the canyon walls closed in a bit and it was evident that a majority of the rock walls were made of limestone. There were lots of small cave entrances and rockshelters.
Cave photo Cave_zps078bf883.jpg
Looking out of Cave photo LookingOutofCave_zps0fa6f92f.jpg
  Even one of the sycamore trees I passed on the trail was cave-like in appearance.Hollow Sycamore photo SycamoreTunnel_zpsc28c4f85.jpg
Eventually I found myself at Parsons Spring, the headwaters of the creek that flows through Sycamore Canyon.
Parsons Spring photo Headwaters_zps1735abcc.jpg
Above the spring the canyon is just a dry wash , filled with river cobbles.
Above Parsons Spring photo UpstreamofParsonsSpring_zps6511cca7.jpg
I ate a snack there and then turned around to head back. 

The scenery on the return was just as beautiful as on the trip up the canyon.
Parsons Trail 2 photo ParsonsTrail2_zps1119a782.jpg
I took a few minutes to climb up to what appeared to be a cave high above the canyon floor. It turned out to not be as impressive as I had imagined, but it offered a great view of the canyon.  
View From High Cave photo lookingOutofHighCave_zps3874d73a.jpg
Parts of the trail were routed on a natural limestone ledge above the clear waters of the creek.
Ledge Walk photo HuggingWalls_zpsae31cea8.jpg
Eventually I returned to a deep pool of water I had admired on the hike in. There is a large stone monolith that rises high above the creek and the deep red of the rock made for an interesting contrast with the blue of the water.
Deep Pool and Cliff photo DeepPool_zps46612a57.jpg
I admired the deep pool for a bit and then headed further down canyon.
Hiking Back to Car photo HikingBack_zps25dfd264.jpg
I soon returned to the final ascent that led back to the parking area and was treated to great views to the last step of this hike.
Trailside View photo NiceView_zpse8653fb0.jpg
The hike along the Parsons Trail was certainly interesting. If you ever find yourself in central Arizona I would recommend checking it out. It also seems like there would be some great swimming holes to sample on a hot summer day.

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