Oak Creek Homestead
Cottonwood, Arizona (Coconino) Technical Rating: 2-4
Last Updated: 07-23-2016
Broken Arrow, Schnebly Hill Road, Smiley Rock , Casner Mountain Trail, Smasher Canyon
Cococino National Forest / Red Rock Ranger District
Oak Creek Homestead Highlights
The Oak Creek Trail takes you from Highway 89A (about half way between Sedona and Cottonwood) almost all the way (you have to hike the last half a mile) to Oak Creek where you'll find the ruins of an old rock-walled house, and a cool stream to soak your feet in.
Homestead is certainly a historical area to visit, as you can see the remaining evidence of an early settlement, but it's probably one of the least scenic trails in the Sedona area. Still, it has its charms, and is a relatively short run for those looking for an additional quick place to explore, or for those who want an easy trail with some mild 4wd challenges.
Technical rating: (2-4) Easy
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
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Directions to Trailhead
From West Sedona take 89A south to Red Rock Loop Rd.. Drive pass Elmersville Rd. then look for the trailhead on the right side of the road about 1350 feet southwest of Elmersville Rd.
If coming from Cottonwood, take 89A north to Red Rock Loop, then follow the directions above.
Alternately you can use a trailhead directly off 89A that is 8.5 miles north of Cornville Rd. in Cottonwood, or 7 miles south of Sedona Red Rock High School.
Much of the Oak Creek Homestead Trail could be done in a high clearance two wheel drive vehicle, but some areas with small to moderate steps, hills and rough terrain will occasionally call for low-range, four-wheel drive. The most challenging portion is closest to the end of the trail: a hill full of moderate steps and off-camber terrain (see waypoints 8 & 13) known as Cliffhanger. Due to maintenance on the gate in the spring of 2016, Cliffhanger had some leveling out done to it, but with time should erode and become increasingly more challenging. Entering and/or exiting from 89A is a much easier trail than from Red Rock Loop Rd., but they both lead to the same southern portion of the trail where the most technical off-road obstacles can be found.
The summer months are usually very dry and dusty, but with some dry river beds in the area, it can become dangerous during heavy rains. Muddy or even washed out areas can make the trail much more difficult after a heavy storm. It may be advisable to avoid this area during heavy rain or spring run-off.
If you want to go all the way to the Homestead area, next to Oak Creek, you'll have to hike about half a mile. It was once open for vehicles to access this area, but due to concerns with the quality of the water - which is used as a city water source - it was gated and prohibited from motor vehicle use.
1: Trailhead - Red Rock Loop Rd. (0.0mi)
This is one of two trailheads into the Oak Creek Homestead area, and is a great place to air-down the tires for a smoother ride, or air them back up when you are done. This section of the trail, up to where it hits the "Y" is more technical than using the other trailhead off 89A (see waypoint 19), with a few small hills with small steps that may require the use of four-wheel-drive.
2: Dry Wash North (0.5mi)
Stay straight on the trail, heading north/south for the easiest route. Some optionally go into the wash for something more challenging to drive on, but it's not officially part of the trail. If you choose this optional route, turn left into the wash (east), or you can go the other way if you don't mind turning around at the end to head back to the main trail.
3: Dry Wash Middle (0.6mi)
Continue straight heading north/south to stay on the main off-road trail. You can optionally enter the wash here if you want something more challenging to drive on. Either direction will loop back to the main off-road four-wheel drive trail.
4: 9845H & 9845 Intersection (1.1mi)
Stay left at this intersection to continue west on 9845H towards Homestead. Heading northwest will take you towards the 89A trailhead along 9845 which is also part of the Lime Kiln Trail, a trail that continues beyond 9845 at the west, and a short way north of this intersection on 9845H, as a non-motorized trail that is popular for use by horseback riders.
5: Steps (1.2mi)
This small hill has some small steps on it. It's easy to go down, but requires four-wheel drive to get up.
6: 9845H & 9845N Intersection (1.4mi)
Stay left at this intersection to continue south on 9845N towards Homestead. Heading northwest will take you towards 89A, and northeast will take you back on 9845H towards Red Rock Loop Road. 9845H ends at this intersection.
From here south the trail get's into it's more difficult terrain. Heading towards 89A from here is the easiest part of the trail and can be done in any high-clearance vehicle.
7: Big rock (1.8mi)
As you approach Cliffhanger, you'll get to see a nice little canyon along the way, and a big rock on the side of the trail.
8: Cliffhanger (2.1mi)
The only way in and out of the Oak Creek Homestead ruins requires you to descend, and on return climb, this hill known as Cliffhanger. It will require low-range four-wheel drive. Beginners may find this a bit challenging, but with some coaching it should be no problem with a properly equipped vehicle.
This part of the trail was leveled out some in the spring of 2016 to install the gate at the next waypoint. It will likely become more difficult as it becomes eroded over time.
9: Locked gate (2.9mi)
This is the official end of the 9845N. Due to concerns with people driving through Oak Creek River - part of a watershed used for city water - this gate was put in place in the spring of 2016 to keep motor vehicles out. You can still hike your way down to the Homestead ruins and the river. According to Forest Service maps, this is where the motorized trail has officially ended for a few years even before the gate was in place.
11: Oak Creek (3.5mi)
Depending on the time of year the water can be at different levels and speeds, so be careful when entering it. It is also a watershed used as a city water supply, so be careful not to contaminate it.
12: Oak Creek Fire Pit (3.7mi)
Here you'll find a good sized fire pit, and a rope swing over the river. It seems like a nice place to cool off during a hot Summer's day. It's also a great place for a picnic if you are okay with packing it on your back for a mile as you'll have to hike down and back.
13: Up Cliffhanger (2.7mi)
Heading back out form the Oak Creek Homestead area requires you to drive back up this rocky hill.
14: 9845 & 9845N Intersection (1.9mi)
If heading back out, continue straight ahead to continue north towards 89A. This is the north end of 9845N, as you connect to 9845. Heading southeast will get you to homestead, and west to head towards Red Rock Loop Road.
15: Dry Creek (1.5mi)
Welcome to Dry Creek, you'll see a parking area on your right as you approach; if heading out to 89A.
16: 9845 Wash 2 (1.1mi)
This is just one example of the few washes that are along this branch of the trail.
17: 9845 Wash 1 (0.9mi)
This is just one example of the few washes that are along this branch of the trail. It's also close to where 9845 turns into 9945A as Lime Kiln Trail soon diverges from the road.
18: 9845A & 9845C Intersection (0.5mi)
Continue straight ahead towards 89A when heading out: putting the dead-end dirt road on your right. This short road gives you access to some additional camping spots.
Due to Oak Creek being used as a watershed, and issues caused by people driving their vehicles through it, a gate has been placed about half a mile from the creek to prevent motorized vehicles from access it. This was done in the Spring of 2016, however it had been noted on the forest services maps for a few year prior that this gate is were the trail officially ends.
For more information see the Red Rock Ranger District.
Camping and Lodging
There are fire pits close to the 89A trailhead along 9845A and 9845C. However, overnight camping is officially not allowed along this off-road trail because it so close to residential areas. There are plenty of hotels to choose from within Sedona, and camping is available in plenty of other areas within the Coconino Forest; as well as other adventures and amazing scenery. For more information check with the Coconino Forest Service.
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 07-23-2016
Conditions: Partially Cloudy
Low Temperature: 69° F
High Temperature: 98° F
The road leading up to Oak Creek Homestead area was a little damp from recent rain, and had some mild erosion along the trail. Still it wasn't any more difficult then before. The biggest change to this trail is the gate that was recently installed just a few months ago to prevent people from driving all the way to Oak Creek. Now you have to hike the last half mile or so. From what I understand this is due to the river being a watershed, and people driving through it was a big concern that had been around for a few years. The forest maps have also shown this gate as the end of the trail for a few years as well.
Offroaded on 01-18-2016
Conditions: Partially Cloudy
Low Temperature: 38° F
High Temperature: 66° F
I took a quick trip through the Verde Valley this day, starting along General Cook National Recreation Trail, then up the 260 from Camp Verde to Cottonwood. As I headed towards Sedona, I took a quick trip to Oak Creek Homestead to get some video of the trail before heading on to Broken Arrow.
It was a nice day with some left over moisture on the trail from rain and snow the previous week. This also made the creek more active, and some spots a bit slippery along the trail. Parts of the trail appeared to have been recently maintained and were very smooth, but the further in I got the usual rocky road with small steps were still there. Heading back out towards Red Rock Loop Road the trail looked about the same as usually with plenty of small obstacles.