May 2019 – The hiking trails in the area around Sedona, Arizona, are so spectacular that they are worth many return visits. The thing is, the trails never look the same because the views and the air and the feeling change as the weather changes.
We decided to explore the trail system that is known collectively as the Broken Arrow system, and specifically within that system we wanted to see what could be seen from the various Pig Trails.
Well, whoever named these hikes must have seen a lot of javelina rooting around here, because quite a few hikes have pig-related names.
Javelina (pronounced “have-a-leena” despite being spelled a bit like the Greek throwing spear) are not pigs at all, but they have a piggish look about them from snout to tail.
They eat prickly pear cactus pads (ouch!) and leave very fibrous poops behind.
So, the trails we wandered around on had names like “Pig Tail Trail,” “Hog Wash,” “Peccary,” and “Hog Heaven.” How funny!
We got started on our hike a little before 6:00 in the morning on a blustery and overcast day, and the trail was damp from rainfall the night before. We breathed deeply in the crisp fresh air.
I especially loved the smell of the wet creosote bushes. It is a pungent smell that somehow evokes the essence of the southwestern desert for me. That unique creosote smell is especially thick in the Phoenix area during “Monsoon Season” in the summertime.
Buddy didn’t say anything about the smell of the wet creosote leaves, but he barreled around the corners in sheer delight.
There was a little archway between the trees on the trail, and we took some fun pics of each other with the red rock spires in the distance.
The gloomy clouds made the views particularly dramatic, and with each turn in the trail we got a different glimpse of the distant spires in a natural frame.
As an aside, we just saw the article I wrote that offers a few of our photography tips in the June 2019 issue of Trailer Life Magazine, and it is truly eye-popping.
The editors kindly set aside six full pages for the article — all without ads — and called it, “Shoot to Thrill.” How perfect!
Some of our favorite pics appear in the article along with some notes about things we think about when we take photos in our travels.
I don’t know if they’ll eventually post the article on their website or not, but for those who subscribe to the magazine, please keep an eye out for it! The article talks about framing, among many other things that are all very straight forwar, even with a smartphone camera, and we used an example of the framing technique from Arches National Park since we hadn’t yet taken these photos in Sedona!
As we rounded a bend, the trees that had been partially blocking our view disappeared and our jaws dropped as we looked out at the fabulous stormy sky hovering over the red rock peaks.
Suddenly, we heard a clap of thunder in the distance. Uh oh! That was it for hiking! We hightailed it outta there and ran for the safety of a coffee shop in town where we enjoyed a latte and a muffin while it rained.
Storm clouds continued to swirl around the Sedona area and dump rain now and then for a few days. One afternoon we saw the most amazing cloud form over our rig.
Then the sun set in brilliant color right over some blooming cactus flowers.
While the skies did the wild thing above us, we spotted some spring wildflowers blooming at our feet. Beautiful!
When we were out and about around town we saw some gorgeous views as the skies slowly cleared. That’s the unusual thing about this area: even driving around town you’ll see awe-inspiring views!
We decided to check out the pig-related hiking trails once again on another morning, and this time, as day dawned out on the trail, there was sun in the sky.
What a difference that made. The subtle coloration on the distant peaks became washed out and the sky was a beautiful blue but not too exciting, so our focus shifted a bit.
We quickly teached the point where we had turned around before and kept going to see what was ahead.
We came to an open area in the trail where we could prowl around on huge wide flat rocks. Buddy sat down to take it all in and wait to find out what was next on our hiking agenda.
The rain had created puddles in places where there probably aren’t any most of the time. There was a narrow ribbon of a stream flowing along a crevice in the rocks.
Mark spotted me with my reflection, and after yelling to me to stand still so he could get a pic, we both started to look around for reflection images. You have to get low for these. Buddy is already low, so he helped out in the search.
Wow, what fantastic reflections we found! For my birthday a few months ago, Mark had given me a Nikon 12-24mm wide angle lens, and this jewel of a lens creates jewel-like images!
Of course, sometimes just as I get a cool shot lined up it gets photo-bombed by our four-legged friend.
The little puddles made some beautiful images and an hour quickly passed while we crawled around on our hands and knees peering at the distant red rocks with our faces and cameras just above the water.
Interestingly, we ended up on this trail a few days later and the puddles were all but gone!
Mountain bikers love riding the trails in the Broken Arrow system, no doubt because they are very challenging! In some sections you ride on an exposed sandstone ledge — not for the faint of heart!
Fortunately, we had hit the trail so early in the morning that we didn’t see a soul until the final few hundred yards when a mountain biker approached.
We’ve begun to realize that if you are lucky enough to get to Sedona, Arizona, whether with an RV or without one, you can’t go wrong on any of the hiking trails.
Some trails have funny piggy names while others are named for features in the landscape, but either way, they are all fabulous and they are all worth doing!
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- Hog Heaven Trail Notes
- Visit Sedona – Official Tourist Guide
- RV campgrounds in and around Sedona
- Where are these trails?
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