Jung Family Vacation in Arizona, Day 5: Hiking the West Fork Trail and West Fork Oak Creek

After yesterday’s brief exposure to the West Fork Trail, Liz and I ventured off on our own early in the morning to hike the trail.

Here’s a bit of video of the seriously winding (and seriously high up) road that is 89A:

The start of the trail

As always – bear warnings.

What we had read was that the West Fork Trail was 3.3 miles (but the park ranger told us people reported it was more like 4 miles long).

Our plan was to set an alarm for 2 hours, and at that point… we’d turn around and head back.

Liz, venturing forth on the trail.

It was pretty cold, as the morning temps were at around 45 degrees. But man oh man, were the views really spectacular.

One of the big challenges for us on the trail: a total of 13 creek crossings.

A tree, post-fall.

In many spots, the trails were clearly marked.

There was a lot of variation in the path: sometimes the trail was soft, sometimes muddy and wet, sometimes primarily rock.

More crossings.

Further in, we started to see ice in the water (despite the sun being up).

I spent so much time looking up, I’m amazed I didn’t trip and break my neck.

While there were great views of the cliff and rock walls, at several points the trail took us deep into the woods.

There was a certain spot where the temperatures just seemed to plummet a good 15 degrees almost instantly.

Funny thing: we got on the wrong path (there are several points where the path diverges, but it usually meets up again). We hiked up an incredibly steep incline, and had a similarly steep descent (where we mostly had to slide down on our butts).

This is the path on the right. When we got down, we realized there was a markedly easier path lower down, complete with its own set of stairs.

A sign marking the end of the official trail. You can still push forward, but the trail ahead is unmaintained. Amazingly, there’s a camp site another 2 1/4 miles beyond this point.

We ran into some hikers who encouraged us to push ahead, just a little further.

Maybe 30 minutes prior to this point, I was considering calling it a day and having us turn back around. And at one particularly tricky creek crossing, Liz had a similar thought. I am incredibly glad we forged ahead, and got to see beyond this point.

After a really rocky section, we found ourselves walking alongside the creek and in close proximity to the rock walls.

It was hard to believe that the trail could get any better, but it really was beyond the end marker.

Liz, rounding the bend.

Such a cool area.

We arrived here around noon, and were greeted with a lot of sunlight.

Patterns in the creek bed.

Liz, taking a snack break.

We rested here on this rock, after meeting a nice older couple from Maine (who we ran into a bit, prior). Chatted with them a bit about their B&B.


Liz, walking back across the creek with ease. By the time we journeyed back, we felt like creek crossing pros.

Jung Family Vacation in Arizona, Day 4: Exploring Stops Along 89A
Jung Family Vacation in Arizona, Day 3: Grand Canyon and Acrophobia
Jung Family Vacation in Arizona, Day 2: Montezuma Castle and Bell Rock
Jung Family Vacation in Arizona, Day 1: Arrival and the Shadow of Castle Rock
Arizona, 2004

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