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Upper Dry Creek Area Trails near Devils Bridge

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If there’s such a thing as an underside of Sedona’s trail systems, it must be where the snakes are.

Reptilian only in their stealth and serpentine courses, the Anaconda and Snake trails are tucked into the core of the Upper Dry Creek Area Trails, which is about as close as one can get to an underside in red rock country.

The two short single tracks serve as customizable legs for various linear and loop hike options in a hilly parcel of Coconino National Forest not far from the juggernauts of Bear Mountain, Devils Bridge and Boynton Canyon.

More:This favorite Sedona hike has flowers and iconic rock formations

The trail duo is best accessed from the isolated AZ Cypress trailhead that sits like an ignored middle child about a mile north of the congested Dry Creek Vista trailhead on Dry Creek Road.

High-desert vegetation on the Anaconda Trail in Sedona's Upper Dry Creek Area Trails.

One way to try these twisting paths is to tie in with the AZ Cypress trail for a moderate 3.3-mile trek.

The benefits of hiking in this woodsy pocket begin at the roomy trailhead that’s usually free of parking quagmires. The circuit starts with a 0.1-mile hike to the AZ Cypress/Snake junction.

The route is well signed throughout with directions and maps. The half-mile Snake Trail marks the beginning of a mild 650-foot climb up the east flanks of a knoll above the Dry Creek drainage area.

A shady passage of the AZ Cypress Trail along Dry Creek in Sedona's Upper Dry Creek Area Trails.

Gradually, fantastic views of Mescal Mountain and the colorful rock formations of Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness peek out over a sea of juniper, fir and cypress trees. The edgy route bends to the south, exposing views of iconic Lizardhead, Chimney Rock and Courthouse Butte before connecting with the Anaconda Trail.

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Over its 1.7-mile length, Anaconda lives up to its name with relentless kinks, bends and sinuous curls that land hikers at the loop’s highest points overlooking the Cockscomb formation, Doe Mountain, Bear Mountain and the distant double mesas of Wilson Mountain to the northeast.

The hike’s apex territory is dominated by classic high desert vegetation. Cactus, manzanita, yucca, agave and a smattering of mesquite trees thrive among scrub oak and junipers.

Mescal Mountain (center) as seen from high points in Sedona's Upper Dry Creek Area Trails.

Heading due west, the Anaconda Trail stairsteps down red earth ledges to meet the AZ Cypress Trail, the final leg of the hike, at the edge of Dry Creek.

Now in a moister microclimate, the environment shifts from sunny and spiny to shady and succulent. Tracing the creek for its entire 1-mile length, AZ Cypress Trail is like a green tunnel replete with massive tree cover and water-loving species like willows, velvet ash and sycamores tossed in for variety.

The narrow path clings to shelves above the ephemeral waterway, which flows after rains and during snowmelt season. 

While this Eden-like scene undoubtedly includes actual snakes, encounters are rare. Like anywhere in Arizona, hikers probably walk by a few snakes on every trail, oblivious to their presence. Preferring to hide in brush and under rocks during the day, snakes value their peace and quiet — not unlike hikers who gravitate to places like this.

More:Easy Sedona hike leads to a hidden wildlife oasis. How to find it

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