Russell Johnson Arizona Artist

Hiking the West Fork Trail for Fall Colors

The West Fork Trail of Oak Creek Canyon just north of Sedona in Arizona, is one of my favorites. Apparently, it’s everyone’s favorite! We arrived to the trailhead parking lot at 8:00 in the morning and scored one of the last parking spots. Cars park along the roadway about 1/2 mile away and it’s possible to walk in. Even with the crowds of people flocking to enjoy the views of fall color against the red rock, there is an opportunity to find seclusion. The couple times we ventured off the trail to enjoy a spot along the creek, it was peaceful. The morning light was amazing! Light filtered through the trees and peaked over the canyon walls in dramatic fashion. The clear waters reflected the fall colors in more vibrancy! Each turn in the trail, and each water crossing brought us to another wonderful view. The area boasts a variety of trees to create splendid fall colors ranging from reds, oranges, and yellows. I think it’s the maples that are the most striking: showing off an array of reds, oranges, and pinks. The temperature was 45 degrees when we started and was in the lows 70’s when we finished about 3 hours later. We hiked about 6 miles and nearly made it the end of the trail, where a hiker can keep going but can only continue by getting wet in the creek as the canyon walls narrow. This was a “data gathering” hike for future paintings. I have a number of photographs to reference for studio paintings this coming winter. Here is a slide show of photographs to enjoy!