The A.B.Young Trail leaves from the southernmost end of the Bootlegger Campground. Take steps down to the creek, find a suitable place to “boulder hop” or wade the stream, cross the creek and find an old metal sign indicating the trailhead. It immediately begins a moderately steep ascent and enters wilderness area. The shade of the creek area is quickly lost and nice views of the canyon and some interesting rock formations open up. The trail climbs 1600 feet in 1.6 miles over the 33 switchbacks to the rim of Oak Creek Canyon. At this point, the trail enters the shade of ponderosa pine and heads west for 0.8 miles on a gradual ascent (this portion of the trail not well marked), ending at the East Pocket Fire Lookout Tower. The trail is believed to have been built originally by C.S. (Bear) Howard in the 1880’s and it was reconstructed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp and supervised by A.B. Young.
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Steady grade all the way up. This is a steep hike with no flat areas, not for beginners. It is a good workout, bring plenty of water in the summer. East trail to follow switchbacks once you find it after boulder-hopping across Oak Creek. The cool, quiet, peaceful pines at the top are the perfect place for a picnic and a nap. Not crowded, and the views and cool breezes are worth every step. If you leave later in the afternoon you will be walking in the shade on the way down.
We had just arrived from the airport on (02/22/12) and Sandy at the Junipine Resort told us that AB Young would be a good hike to do before dark. It was a great way to get the lead out and see the valley. The Fire tower was closed but we could get high enough to see San Francisco Peak. I don’t know why – but Greg asked for our ages – We are both mid-fifties and crusty.
My wife and I hiked this in 3.75 hours with significant lollygagging and side-tracks, not to mention fairly frequent hydration breaks. If you are in reasonable good shape, 3.25 hours is not unrealistic (as a baseline, I am 46 and ride about 75 miles a week, but my wife does much less). The hike is strenuous for the first 1.75 miles, but not technically difficult and is pretty easy on your knees. The brush closed in on the trail a bit for about half of the uphill climb, so if you aren’t wearing long sleeves and pants, expect some minor scratches. Also, there is almost zero shade on the switchbacks. As you ascend, the views of the canyon that the 89A runs along are quite impressive. Once you crest the ridge, the path runs through a partially shaded pine forest to the lookout tower. On the day we went, the ambient temperature on the ridge felt significantly less than on the switchbacks due to a nice breeze. The lookout tower is open to the public to climb (2 at a time) and there are some nice views from there that would benefit from bringing binoculars. I would recommend this hike, particularly if you like to get your heart rate up. It doesn’t have as many of the typical vistas you see from downtown Sedona, but is still worth the time.
Love this trail! Starting out with an exciting Oak Creek boulder-scramble, you quickly move on to a steady, moderate climb that quickly opens up to views down Oak Creek Canyon. At the top, the trail winds along the edge of the plateau, with several good views down-canyon toward the high points of Sedona, such as Wilson Mountain. Overall, a great hike.
First hike 01/04/2014 spectacular views from the top