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Boynton Canyon is a system trail #47 in the Coconino National Forest. It is heavily traveled, well marked with signs, and easy to follow. It enters the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness Area almost immediately after leaving the designated parking area.
There are numerous cliff dwellings in this canyon, though most of them cannot be seen from the official trail, and visiting any of them requires hiking off the beaten path on a social trail.
FINDING THE TRAILHEAD
From the intersection of State Route 89A and Dry Creek Road head north on Dry Creek to the stop sign and turn left on Boynton Canyon Road. Proceed to the next stop sign and turn right at the intersection of Boynton Canyon Road and Boynton Pass Road. The Boynton Canyon / Deadman's Pass Parking Area (shown below) is on the right.
Because this is such a popular hiking area, the parking lot often fills up shortly after sunrise. ARRIVE EARLY! The trail begins directly across the road from the toilets in the photo below.
A Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass is required to park in the official parking lot.
If that lot is full there is free roadside parking by turning left at the stop sign on Boynton Pass Road. This also fills up early (shown below). The farther you have to park down this road the longer your hike into Boynton Canyon will be.
The system trail leaves the parking area heading northeast and immediately crosses the dry wash and forks. The Boynton Canyon Trail turns left at this fork and the Deadman’s Pass Trail continues straight.
KACHINA WOMAN ROCK
Right after the left turn you will pass underneath Kachina Woman Rock shown below, and a short side trail leads to the base of the spire. This short side trip is rated as EASY, with an elevation gain of about 150 ft.
The saddle between Kachina Woman Rock and the smaller spire to the right (photo above) is known as the Boynton Vista Overlook. Those unafraid of heights will find it possible to climb the smaller spire, as well as into the small cave visible in the center of Kachina Woman Rock.
Before climbing up keep in mind you will also have to climb back down, which is always more difficult. A hard and fast rule in canyon country is to NEVER climb up anything you can’t climb back down. The photo below, looking down on the Enchantment Resort, was captured from the top of the smaller spire.
The name Kachina Woman is a reference to Hopi ceremonies in which masked dancers appear. The word kachina means “spirit father” in the Hopi language, and even though some of the figures that appear in the ceremonies represent female spirits, it is always a man behind the mask, since Hopi women do not participate in these dances. The Hopi consider the dance to be a prayer in motion.
Kachina Woman Rock and the overlook became a magnet for curiosity seekers after New Age psychic Page Bryant published a book about “vortex energy” in 1980. While there is no scientific evidence that any electro-magnetic anomalies exist in the area, and Bryant did not specifically mention Kachina Woman Rock as a vortex, many people have journeyed to Sedona hoping to have a spiritual experience. Occasionally you may hear a local man performing Native American style music at the overlook.
CONTINUING INTO THE CANYON
The first mile on the Boynton Canyon Trail (shown below) is spent detouring around the Enchantment. This part of the trail is rocky and offers virtually no shade, so it can be extremely hot in the summer months.
After you get past the resort the trail drops approximately 100 feet to the canyon floor (shown below), where there is more shade and fewer rocks.
There isn't much elevation gain in the middle section of the canyon, where the trail is flanked on either side by thick Manzanita brush.
The last mile of the canyon is heavily forested with large Ponderosa pines, so it is well shaded and much cooler. The trail ends abruptly at the Boynton Box, three miles from the parking area, but the end is actually a little bit anticlimactic.
The original "Boynton Vortex" was said to be at the very end of the trail, but due to the long hike in, many New Age visitors have now switched their focus to Kachina Woman Rock.
RATED: Moderate due to length and elevation gain
6 miles out and back
EST. HIKING TIME
3 hours round trip to the end of the trail, about 15 hours to explore the whole canyon.
BEST TIME TO GO
Yes. Must be leashed at all times. Please pick up after your pet. Be advised that there are bears, mountain lions and javalina in Boynton Canyon, none of which mix well with dogs.