The second largest canyon to emerge from Arizona’s Red Rock Country is a lesser known but just as scenic cousin of famous Oak Creek Canyon. But you won’t find any roads, developed campgrounds or crowds in Sycamore Canyon, just 55,937 acres of wilderness marked by colorful cliffs, soaring pinnacles and one of the world’s rarest habitats, a desert riparian area. The wilderness encompasses all of Sycamore Canyon from its forested rim near Williams to its desert canyon mouth in the Verde Valley. This area is home to black bear and mountain lion as well as a number of less celebrated but just as notable creatures. At night, in the flicker of your dying fire, you may catch a glimpse of a notorious camp robber, the bandit-masked ringtail cat making off with a bit of tomorrow’s lunch. Recently these wide-eyed relatives of the raccoon were designated Arizona’s State animal in a poll of the state’s school children. More likely you’ll notice canyon wrens and hermit thrushes along the trail during the day. They’ll catch your ear as well as your eye. If you hike to Taylor Cabin you’ll see the picturesque lair of another of the canyon’s historic residents, the American cowboy. The Parsons Spring Trail meanders up a fertile desert riparian area, a habitat as rare as it is productive. The Sycamore Rim Trail skirts the canyon’s upper reaches through an area of secluded pools and tall forests.
This area is sufficiently unique to have been the first in Arizona to be designated a Primitive Area. It later became a Wilderness Area in the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act. A number of trails provide access to its beautiful and fragile landscape. This guide mentions only the most prominent. Those who wish to explore further will find much to reward their efforts.
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