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Secret Cabin

Secret Cabin on Secret Mountain Trail. 2009-05-06: On the fourth day of our camping trip on the Mogollon Rim above Sedona, we headed to Secret Mountain Trail #109. The Mangums (authors of Flagstaff Hikes) list this as one of their favorite trails, mentioning they usually stop just past Secret Cabin on the edge of the mountain where there’s a nice view. The weather was unseasonably hot, and we chose this trail not only because it’s interesting, but because it stays at fairly high elevation (instead of diving down into a canyon like so many of the trails in this area). The trail starts off running along a bit of a ridge up to a knob where there are some fantastic views. Diving down to a narrow saddle, the trail meets the top of Loy Canyon Trail, then climbs up to a fairly flat run. Around 1.0 mile are the remains of an old dry tank and corral. It’s almost easy to miss the corral because there’s just a few posts left, as well as a rusty old dredge. Off to the left just past the corral is Johnson Tank. The tank wall reveals signs of masonry work where the dirt has eroded away. Past Johnson Tank, the trail runs above and to the left of a ravine, where two more tanks hold water. The first, Masonry Tank, is built using local stones to dam a narrow, rocky section of the creek bed. The dam creates a small, shallow pond. Below Masonry Tank is Cement Tank, created from three slabs of preformed concrete. This dam creates a rather large, long, and narrow pond which runs back almost to Masonry Tank. There is a rough footpath running from Cement Tank to above Masonry Tank, a lovely diversion from the main trail. According to the Mangums, this area of forest is virgin. Near Cement Tank, the trail descends to a bench along the creek bed where another, more complete corral and Secret Cabin are situated (1.8 miles from the trailhead). Secret Cabin is in fair shape, its walls standing but its roof has collapsed. According to the Mangums, the cabin was built as a failed homestead, and was later inhabited by a family of polygamous Latter Day Saints escaping persecution, then horse thieves who’d bring stolen horses up Loy Canyon from Sedona en route to Flagstaff and northern destinations. Heading uphill past the cabin, the trail leads up to a ridge with a nice view and more corrals. The main trail leads off to the left for another 2.8 miles. Since it was pretty hot weather, we decided to follow the Mangums' recommendation: we had lunch in the shade of a tree, then turned around and headed back to the trailhead, diverting down into the ravine to explore the tanks on the way back. Trip report and full gallery
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