As Phoenix heats up, many locals are desperate to escape the desert's barren landscape and head north to Sedona. Only a two-hour drive from the city, on average, Sedona sees about 60% local valley traffic over the weekends.
Route 89A, leading up to Flagstaff, provides many opportunities to veer off course and wander the many trailheads in Sedona.
One particular trail is the West Fork Oak Creek Trail. Temperatures are at least 20 degrees cooler here and provides relief from the consistent 101-115 temps. You'll find water holes and rivers and shade under the evergreens to keep cool and refreshed. Pack a picnic and spend a few hours exploring this trail as it weaves and winds through the forest and up against cliffs and the water's edge. Hop from rock to rock crossing the stream at five different points along the trail.
You won't sweat too much here as it's a fairly easy 3 mile stroll. You'll know when you get to the end of the marked trail - it ventures on but I have yet to figure out how to follow it further to its 14-mile stretch.
$9 entrance fee for the day. Word of advice: Get there EARLY to find parking during the weekend and summer months.