Canyon from Secret Mountain
picture of canyon

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reflection in sycamore canyon
picture of sycamore canyon

Secret Mountain and Sycamore Canyon Hiking 7-29-2004

There was a break in the monsoon cycle, so I decided some hiking was in order (actually I had wanted to do some hiking earlier, but decided it would be less fun with thunderstorms). I decided on Secret Mountain and a trip into Sycamore Canyon to a number of springs.

tiny horned lizard
picture of little lizard

The trail head to Secret mountain is at the end of a rather long dirt road, but other than some washboards, a few rocks, and some mostly easily avoided puddles it wasn't a bad road. About 10 miles down the road I was flagged down by a woman who wanted a ride even after I explained where I was going. She had a habit of talking rather quietly and it took a while before I was able to determine that she either had had a very interesting life, or else was full of it. Later when she started to talk about how some people were large flying creatures or maybe sea creatures (like giant turtles) I decided that she wasn't following the same play book I was. Secret mountain is in the red rocks-secret mountain wilderness (separated from the sycamore canyon wilderness by a web of roads and a power line corridor). The trail follows some ridgelines and broad ridges mostly in open forest with a few vistas. I saw 4 horned lizards including two that could have fit onto a quarter. It is easy to see how people call them horned toads, as their tails are very short, and they sort of hopped along. I passed some water dams and corrals and cabin sites, and then got up to secret mountain. It really is more like the end of a ridge, with some dramatic canyons on the sides. I thrashed around in the scrub oak and manzanita a bit trying to get a good vantage point. Then back 2.25 miles to my truck.

On the way to the next trailhead, the woman suddenly said "my group wants me to walk", and so I stopped and gave her a gatorade bottle of water and let her out and she started back down the road. Once I turned off the main road towards this trailhead, the road got pretty lousy, with lots of dodging of rocks and ruts and puddles. The book said the last .4 miles were awful, so I parked partway along that and walked the rest, but it really didn't look any worse than what I had already driven over.

I started down the trailhead to Kelsey spring. This hike had a lot of the bugs that make it their business to hover immediately in front of your face. They don't bite, and only sometimes even land on you, but they get pretty annoying. The forest here was peaceful but unremarkable. The spring probably had a lot of flowers earlier in the year, but now was just a lot of greenery and bugs, so I continued on down to Babe's hole spring. This had more deciduous flora, but still wasn't all that remarkable, so I continued on down to Geronimo spring at the bottom of the canyon. This spring wasn't that special either, but up the canyon, it narrowed into some interesting almost slot canyons, so I left my backpack and explored up those and took a lot of pictures. Of course my camera batteries died when I didn't have my backpack and the spare set. Then it was time to slog back up the 2.7 miles and 1500 or so feet to the rim and up the road to the truck, and driving the sketchy road and back to Flagstaff.