No trip to Sedona (or Flagstaff for that matter) is complete without a stop at the beautiful West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead in Sedona. The trailhead is easily accessible from the main road 89A that connects Sedona to Flagstaff, Arizona.
In this post, I'm going to cover a bunch of useful information you should know before hiking the West Fork Trail. And along the way I'll share with you some of the photos I took during my hike.
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Where is the West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead in Sedona located?
Regardless of whether you're visiting from Flagstaff or Sedona you're probably looking at roughly a 30 minute drive to the West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead. The trail sits roughly halfway between the two cities.
During my last trip we actually split our stay between both Flagstaff and Sedona. This is a great way to get your lodging costs down since hotels in Sedona are notoriously expensive, especially on the weekends.
I'd suggest booking your weekend hotel nights in Flagstaff and booking your regular weeknights in Sedona to strike a happy medium. Staying in Flagstaff also means you'll be closer to the Grand Canyon if you plan to visit it while in the area.
Conversely, if you're attempting this trail from Sedona it's worth driving another 10 minutes north past the trailhead entrance so you can enjoy views from the Oak Creek Vista of the canyon floor below.
After ascending several switchback roads you'll see signs for the pull off. The views are well worth the detour!
If you choose to visit, like many locations in Sedona, the parking situation here isn't great. You'll pay $11 for a vehicle entrance fee day pass and on a nice day you may have to circle the parking area more than once to find a spot.
The ideal strategy is to start your day with this hike to beat the crowds. We arrived around 7:45am on a nice April Sunday morning and were able to snag one of the few remaining parking spots. Keep in mind this is one of the more popular trails in the area!
Things to know about the West Fork of Oak Creek Trail in Sedona
The West Fork Oak Creek Trail is an out and back hike that takes you along a creek that forks off to the west from Oak Creek. Can't imagine how they came up with the name!
Unlike many hikes in the Sedona area, this one offers substantial tree cover so while arriving early is ideal to avoid parking issues, the tree cover means it's a viable hiking option for those hotter and sunnier days.
You can even bring dogs on this trail assuming they're on a leash. If you're looking for additional trail information, visit AllTrails (link here) and read what other hikers have said!
What to expect when hiking the West Fork Oak Creek Trail in Sedona?
I'm always a proponent of having good footwear when you're going for hikes even on a well maintained trail such as this. If nothing else it makes for a more comfortable experience. In this case, having boots that are at least somewhat water resistant is a huge plus when hiking the West Fork Trail.
If you're unsure of what else to pack while doing this hike consider reading up on my complete day hike checklist. You won't need everything on there for a hike like this, but it will ensure you don't forget important things like hiking boots, sunscreen and bug spray.
When it comes to West Fork - be mindful that you'll need to make a total of 26 creek crossings if you go the entire 3.3 miles each way (13 crossings in each direction).
Fortunately most of these crossings are fairly easy if you're comfortable crossing the makeshift bridges and stepping stones that others have assembled over the years. Navigating the shallow water of the creek generally isn't an issue.
When we visited in April the water levels were low enough that all of the make shift bridges allowed us to cross every time without getting wet. If you miss a step or water levels are high, you might end up with wet feet.
It might be worth packing (at least in your car) a backup plan whether that's water shoes, a dry pair of socks or a second pair of shoes altogether. You don't want to be treading around all day with wet feet! Take your time and you'll be fine, but it's something to be aware of going in.
Along the way you'll come across ruins from the old Mayhew Lodge that served guests from the early 1900s. You'll come across the remnants of several old buildings fairly early on in the hike. They're located near the trail so you won't have to worry about missing them.
Take a few minutes to meander through the ruins and soak up some of this areas history. Staying in these rustic buildings in the early 1900s must've been an awesome way to experience the Coconino National Forest.
Between the creek crossings, historical ruins, dense forest and sheer cliff walls the West Fork trail offers a unique experience relative to other hikes in the Sedona area.
How long does it take to hike the West Fork Oak Creek Trail?
A nice thing to know about the West Fork Trail in Sedona is that even though it's a moderately lengthy 6.6 miles (10.6 km) if you go the full distance, you don't have to if you're pressed for time. It will take most hikers 3 hours to complete.
I say that because once you've gotten a mile or so in, the scenery doesn't change a whole lot and you've already passed most points of interest along the way such as the ruins.
While the trail continues to offer amazing views of the sheer canyon walls as the creek winds through the valley, it doesn't really change too much.
Once you've had your fill, you can feel free to turn back. There isn't a notable point of interest at the end like many other trails.
Be sure to check out the nearby Oak Creek Vista views
Be sure to budget some time to stop at the Oak Creek Vista after your visit to West Fork. The views are spectacular and there are usually Native American vendors selling crafts at this location, it's a great place to pick up some souvenirs.
The drive up to the vista (which is conveniently located along 89A) offers tons of scenery along the way. Make sure you pull off to really soak in the views!
Are there restrooms at the West Fork trailhead in Sedona?
Visitors will find plenty of bathroom facilities at the trailhead parking lot.
Looking for more things to do in Sedona?
For a great non-hiking activity, be sure to check out my post about visiting the Crescent Moon Ranch area if you haven't already. It's a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon taking in views of Cathedral Rock or swimming in Oak Creek.
If you're looking for other hike ideas, I've also published posts on three of my favorite ones in the area: Devil's Bridge, Soldiers Pass and Bell Rock. This posts will give you a great overview of what to expect on each one.
Looking for a more comprehensive Sedona travel guide? I've put together a list of top activities to do around Sedona you can read here. It covers tons of hikes along with places like the Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park. Also be sure to check out my full length Sedona Travel Guide available on YouTube.
Don't forget to pack a towel, bathing suit, water and plenty of sunscreen if you plan to spend the day hanging out here! Outside of bathrooms near the parking lot, there aren't really any other facilities, so you'll need to bring food and other critical supplies as well.
Hopefully this post serves you well if you're planning a trip to Sedona. If you do visit the West Fork Oak Creek Trail let me know what you thought on social media!