Casner Canyon is a system trail in the Coconino National Forest. Designated as Trail #11, most of this trail is well established and easy to follow once you get into the canyon. However, it can be a little tricky to follow in the very beginning, when you'll be looking for a spot to wade across the clear, cold water of Oak Creek (SHOWN BELOW).
According to historians, this trail was built to provide cattle grazers a means of getting their stock from water on the canyon floor to pastures on the canyon rim. Today, it is used by hikers and horsebackers for access into the heart of a landscape most people see only through their telephoto lens.
After crossing Oak Creek, the trail starts up the floor of Casner Canyon, passing a rock shelter on the left that was used in ancient times. A lone pictograph, most likely depicting a sun symbol, graces the back wall (SHOWN BELOW), providing evidence of prehistoric occupation of the site. This particular symbol is one of the most common in the rock art of the Verde Valley.
Beyond the rock shelter the system trail follows the floor of Casner Canyon (SHOWN BELOW) for a short distance before turning up the canyon's north slope.
It then continues a long and sometimes steep climb to the canyon rim about a half-mile north of the Schnebly Hill Road Overlook (SHOWN BELOW). The route it follows is a scenic one, right through the middle of some of the rock formations that make up the spectacular view from Sedona and Highway 89A. Because shade is sparse, this can be a hard, hot climb on a sunny day. Bring lots of water along with your camera.
FINDING THE TRAILHEAD
Park either on the west side of the highway just north of Grasshopper Point, across from a road blocked by a closed gate. You can also park at the Grasshopper Point Recreation Area. If you park at Grasshopper, you'll have to pay for parking and follow Allens' Bend Trail to its intersection with Casner Canyon Trail. Allen's Bend Trail starts at the north end of the Grasshopper Point parking lot.
Difficult due to length and elevation gain
5.7 miles roundtrip
EST HIKING TIME
3.5 hrs roundtrip
BEST TIME TO GO
Warm weather. Creek crossing requires getting wet.
Yes. Must be leashed. Please pick up after your pet.