Long Canyon Trail, Long Canyon Trailhead, Sedona: Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness, Arizona
Long Canyon Trail - 7.7 miles
Long Canyon Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.7 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,505' - 5,537' (5,537' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,032' net elevation gain (+1,134' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Long Canyon Trail - 7.7 Miles Round-Trip
Long Canyon is located 3.4 miles from 89A in Sedona's Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness. The trail follows an old jeep road through brushy desert flats into the canyon, where it's gradually enveloped by a leafy collection of oak, cottonwood, willow, sycamore and maple.
A series of steep scrambles in the upper canyon lead above the canopy to narrow ledges where you may discover pictographs and dwelling remains:
The Long Canyon Trail heads north and level through plots of cypress, pinyon, juniper, yucca, manzanita, agave, prickly pear and hedgehog. Cryptobiotic soil crusts span the desert floor, enhancing water absorption and fixing nitrogen for this delicate ecosystem.
Travel is quick to the Deadman's Pass Trail split (.97 miles : 4,642'), just past which is the official wilderness boundary.
Anticipate this split and stay right, as it's possible to inadvertently veer left onto Deadman's without noticing. Also note that a golf course is located off to the right, but is largely concealed by vegetation.
The trail weaves through dense cypress and funnels into the canyon (1.5 miles : 4,690'), where deciduous vegetation displaces the cacti and yucca of the open desert (2.5 miles : 4,773').
You'll generally follow a wash up the canyon, crossing it several times on a variously level and rugged path. The trail is dimly lit and enveloped, requiring some effort to see canyon walls through the canopy.
The trail seamlessly veers into the canyon's north fork (3.0 miles : 4,958'), shifting and undulating to the first steep scramble-climb to a small terrace high along the canyon wall (3.68 miles : 5,466').
A second scramble-climb follows, depositing you on a white rock ledge between the canopy and canyon rim (3.85 miles : 5,537'). This is a turnaround point for most, and good place to start looking for pictographs.
A strenuous but intuitively followed route continues up to the canyon rim and levels on the mesa below Maroon Mountain, where elk and antelope are known to congregate.
- N34 54.399 W111 49.453 — 0.0 miles : Long Canyon Trailhead
- N34 54.710 W111 49.769 — .5 miles : Mild travel toward canyon entrance
- N34 55.037 W111 49.879 — .97 miles : Dead Mans Pass Trail split
- N34 55.383 W111 50.063 — 1.5 miles : Enter canyon mouth
- N34 55.656 W111 50.312 — 2.0 miles : Level travel through diverse brush
- N34 55.889 W111 50.716 — 2.55 miles : Cross wash, canyon walls rise and close in
- N34 56.056 W111 51.015 — 3.0 miles : Frequent cairn-marked wash crossings
- N34 56.533 W111 51.157 — 3.5 miles : Rugged undulations in canyon - begin climb
- N34 56.795 W111 51.201 — 3.85 miles : Route fades along north canyon wall
- Note: Distances for the Long Canyon Trail vary between sources, due in part to the subjective determination of where reasonable travel in the canyon ends, and land management's need to protect natural and historical features from destructive improvised travel. Travel within your ability, and help preserve archeological finds.
- The Long Canyon area was home to the prehistoric Sinagua culture and artifacts and habitation sites may be found near the trail terminus in the upper canyon.
- Mild grades and shade make Long Canyon ideal for trail running and hot days.
- Long Canyon's leafy riparian corridor produces brilliant autumn colors.
- Bugs are common on this trail - long sleeves and repellant are recommended.
- Long Canyon is a comparably interesting but lightly used alternative to nearby Boynton Canyon.
- Distances for the Long Canyon Trail vary between sources, due in part to the subjective determination of where reasonable travel in the canyon ends, and land management's need to protect natural and historical features from destructive improvised travel. Travel within your ability, and help preserve archeological finds.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- There are no designated backcountry campsites in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. Dispersed camping is permitted in specific areas past trailheads and roads (see map page to view the PDF). It's advisable to contact visitor services at 928.203.2900 to review your itinerary in advance.
- Backpackers must be at least one mile from the trailhead, or as indicated by the map or signs at trailheads (guidelines may vary slightly by trail).
- Backpackers are encouraged to occupy sites used by others, and practice leave no trace ethics.
- Water is scarce. Plan on carrying all of your own into the backcountry.
- Campfires are permitted on a seasonal and forest condition basis. Fire restrictions are strictly enforced.
- Bears and others animals capable of reaching your food inhabit Red Rock Country. Store supplies safely by hanging or using bear canisters.
- There are 7 developed campgrounds in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness vicinity: Pine Flat, Cave Springs, Manzanita, Chavez Crossing, Clear Creek, and Clear Creek Group Camp. There are at least 186 combined individual sites and 4 group sites.
- Individual sites range $16-18 per night, and group sites $65-200. Coconino Forest Campgrounds do not accept Credit Cards on site (except Cave Springs). Cash and in-state checks only. Reservations and credit card payments may be made in advance through Recreation.gov or by calling 877.444.6777.
Rules and Regulations
- Bikes are not allowed past the Wilderness Boundary, .97 miles from the trailhead at the Deadman's Pass Trail split.
- It's illegal to touch, move, remove, or enter archeological remains.
Red Rock Pass - a fee is required to recreate in the Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness:
- Daily Pass: $5
- Weekly Pass: $15
- Annual Pass: $20
The Red Rock Pass is valid for use as a parking permit to recreate in Red Rock Country, including access to Red Rock Country Heritage Sites.
It's not valid for other fee areas such as developed campgrounds, Grasshopper Point Picnic and Swimming Area, Crescent Moon Day Use Area, and Call O' the Canyon (West Fork Trailhead).
Passes may be obtained at all Ranger Stations, Visitor Centers, Online, and at a number of local kiosks and commercial vendors (e.g. grocery stores).
Directions to Trailhead
The Long Canyon Trailhead is located 3.4 miles from Highway 89A in Sedona, AZ.
From the Highway 179 - 89A split, drive 2.9 miles south on 89A to Dry Creek Road.
Turn right (north) on Dry Creek Road and travel 2.8 miles to Long Canyon Road. Turn right on Long Canyon Road and drive .6 miles to a small pull-off on the left side of the road by the trailhead. Parking is limited, but additional spaces can be found nearby along the road.
Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
Red Rock Ranger District
8375 State Route 179 (just south of the village of Oak Creek)
Sedona, Arizona 86341
8:00 - 4:30 Monday - Friday
Visitor Information: 928.203.2900
Administration Office: 928.203.7500 or 928.282.4119
Coconino National Forest
1824 S. Thompson St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Visitor Information: 928.526.0866
Supervisor's Office: 928.527.3600