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theksmith

8/30/2018: Casner Mountain Trail (near Sedona, AZ)

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i recently had the good fortune to stumble upon someone on Facebook with a permit for the Casner Mountain trail who was looking to share his adventure (permits are good for up to 10 rigs).

 

Ladybug is hoping to lead this trail for the Offroad Passport club next year, but i still jumped at the opportunity since it's been on my bucket list and the permits go fast.

 

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Mark Bergman led the trip in his capable TJ and home-made camp trailer. some of you might have met him before at other Phoenix area events.

 

Chris & Sarah (Bradywgn71 & Kaspily) came with their WJ and were the only folks i knew before the trip.

 

an easy going guy by the name of Bud with a shiny new JL 2-door was there too. it turns out we had probably met before on some VJC runs (he's on here now as "Sputternutz").

 

several other rigs joined us for the day run of Casner, but only myself and the folks i mentioned so far camped out.

 

 

 

a meal and a side

 

us campers were scheduled to meet at the Sedona Brewery on Thursday evening.

 

i left Phoenix early to take a quick side trip to the top of House Mountain which overlooks Sedona from the south. on the summit, i could see a forest fire in the distance and wondered if it would impact our trip.

 

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these ads for opposing philosophies made me smile...

 

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the 5 of us BS'd about rigs, trips, and work while getting to know each other over dinner at the brewery. afterwards we all headed out to a dispersed camping area not far from the Casner trail head.

 

besides our own campfire, we had a good view of the glow from that forest fire which was up on the ridge just a few miles away.

 

Chris & Sarah visited with us a while but eventually headed back into Sedona to glamp at the Marriott!

 

 

 

rise & climb

 

3 more JK's came out to meet us around 8am Friday morning and soon we were ready to start the trail.

 

the permit comes with the combination for the lock on the giant yellow gate, but just swinging it open is a deterrent as it takes a group effort!

 

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right away the trail begins to climb steep switchbacks as it zig-zags beneath the powerlines.

 

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if you pause to look over your shoulder you can see quite a distance - our view was hazy with smoke from the fires though.

 

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just as you crest the top, you're rewarded with another view of the famous area red-rock formations.

 

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smooth sailing...

 

the next part of the trail is a leisurely flat stroll compared to the start.

 

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we weren't too far from that forest fire... a couple guys had called the ranger station the day before and they were confident that we'd be fine.

 

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wait, there's more

 

next the trails crosses a narrow ridge with decent size drop-offs on each side.

 

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there are more great views from this point in either direction. on the right you're looking back towards Sedona:

 

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no time to gawk though - softball to bowling ball sized crumbling rocks and the height of this second steep climb will get your attention. as usual, the reality is steeper than it looks in photos!

 

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another shot of the trail (i think Mark took this photo that i got from Facebook):

 

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the run isn't difficult, but the climbs could be intimidating to inexperienced drivers or anyone with a mild fear of heights. i'd say nearly any high-clearance 4wd rig with a low-range transfer case option and some all-terrains could make it.

 

i can't say i'd recommend this run as "trailer friendly" myself. Mark didn't seem to have any trouble pulling his up, but he does have a nicely dialed in rig with a quality lift, large tires, and lockers.

 

 

continued next post....

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already over?

 

we began to weave through a few taller pines not far after that steep ridge and soon found the upper gate. it was just as large as the first, but sagging quite a bit and requires at least 2 sturdy people to get it closed.

 

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so as it turned out, the actual permit-required "Casner Mountain Trail" was much shorter than i had realized... but there was still plenty more dirt/gravel to explore!

 

after the gate, the trail entered a forest propper. the abundant shade was a nice change since it was still warm even though we'd climbed over 2,500ft in elevation.

 

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on our lunch break we took a short walk to a small squished cabin:

 

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the newer model was just up the hill behind it:

 

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and behind that, the reading room:

 

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a couple of us remarked on the neat rocks along that short spur.

 

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full blown exploration mode - go!

 

the day-runners took off after lunch once again leaving just Mark, Bud, Chris, Sarah and myself to explore. we took a couple wrong turns, including trying to get to a lookout tower (the access road was closed), but that's all part of the adventure!

 

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several of the areas we passed through looked like they had burned several years prior.

 

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we also came across deer a few times - none of which seemed particularly concerned about us nor the many hunters out scouting.

 

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Mark eventually led us to the spectacular Buzzard Point. apparently i was too in-awe of the scenery to remember my camera, so i'm sharing this nice photo that Sarah took:

 

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from views to viddles

 

we considered camping somewhat near that viewpoint, but the smoke smell was heavy there so we went further south and found a nice site near a large fern grove.

 

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i was busy trying to take some artsy-fartsy photos after we setup camp, so i'll have to share another one of Sarah's photos here:

 

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Mark had recently acquired a new hobby - smoking meat, and thus we were all treated to some delicious ribs he'd smoked that week. i brought a desert and the other guys brought sides to go with the meat and so it didn't take long for us to all be well beyond "stuffed"!

 

 

 

wake-up & haul-butt

 

the bang of Jeep doors closing at 5:30am woke me up Saturday morning, followed by the sound of a few large raindrops hitting the roof of the JK (which i had slept inside of). i briefly considered returning to dreamland, but decided to pack up a little in case it rained all morning.

 

the few drops quickly became a full shower and everyone was now up running about and so i finished packing up. Mark moved a few things and then went back to bed in his trailer mounted roof-top-tent, but the rest of us were wide awake and decided to head on home.

 

i took Chris, Sarah and Bud on a short fruitless attempt to find another viewpoint, then led the way out to I-40. there's also a smaller trail which takes you out to the 89a, but i was all about the graded boogie road.

 

and finally, i have to steal one last photo from Sarah - of us bookin' it out on the main gravel road:

 

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frou-frou bonus photos

 

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Thanks for the trip report and pictures! That answered my questions about the Casner Mountain trail - I couldn't figure out why Ladybug wants to do a day trip, when you guys were going to be camping two nights. Now I get it.

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Looks like a great time! Would be down for an overnight run for this trail to allow time to poke around/explore/getting lost!

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GREAT Pics Kris & Sarah! I have my name on a list and they told me they'd be contacting me in February with a permit date. I don't mind doing a campout trip...I'm just hoping the flowers are blooming at the top, as they were last time we were there. The views are gorgeous, and the flowers were an added bonus!

smiles, ladybug

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Karen it looks like you didn't have the yellow fields of wild flowers like we did the last time. Also I remember "Moses" had a hard time finding the way back to I-17 then too. :):)

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Karen it looks like you didn't have the yellow fields of wild flowers like we did the last time. Also I remember "Moses" had a hard time finding the way back to I-17 then too. :):)

 

Yes Roy, you are correct...I didn't see the fields of yellow flowers like last time. (I didn't go this time, just saw the same pics that you did.)....Hopefully we will see them when I get a 2019 permit.

And yes, perhaps we did have some wandering times on the last trip...but then what else could one expect?! LOL!! Just wait til Utah Roy!!....

smiles, ladybug

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I rode this trail on my dirt bike. No permit required. What an awesome trail.

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