Sports Stories

With the passing of the days, temperatures in the Verde Valley will continue to rise as spring turns to summer.

Perhaps they will not be as blisteringly high as the Phoenix area, but nonetheless the desire for a place to stay cool will remain the same.

Luckily there are the Verde River and Oak Creek, and along with them, a number of swimming holes that provide a wet and cool getaway in this landlocked desert.

The swimming area at Sycamore Canyon is a tributary branching from the Verde River. There is no current and the water is not very deep.
Instead of spending the long summer days hunkered down in an air-conditioned home, these spots give residents and visitors alike a place to find refuge, vitamin D and some scenery.

One of these areas is Sycamore Canyon, located near Tuzigoot National Monument in Clarkdale in Arizona’s first-ever Wilderness Area, established on March 6, 1922.

Once off of the main road, South Broadway, which connects North Main Street in Cottonwood and Main Street in Clarkdale, it is an approximately 11-mile drive to the Parsons Trailhead. After parking it is a short hike to the shaded destination. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as about half of the hike is on rocky terrain.

Adventure seekers beware, this particular swimming hole does not have some of the features, like cliff jumping or a rope swing, that provide an exciting time for its visitors.

But it does offer a relaxing place in one of the less-frequented spots around.

The tall sycamore and oak trees that line the tributary of the Verde River create a protective canopy and seemingly endless escape from the UV rays. Flat, smooth areas lend space to leave belongings. Cool, crystal-clear water beckons the overheating traveler into its not-so-deep depths.

A lack of current means swimmers do not have to worry about battling back to the shoreline, but rather they can count on floating about.

Invasive crawfish do inhabit the mushy shorelines. Those interested in trying to catch them; know that they are
quick and escape by shooting backward.

Do not count on uploading photos of the scenery, water or overall good time to social media while you are there though. A few miles into the drive, cell reception disappears.

This swimming hole in particular is definitely made for optimal relaxation, miles into the wilderness.

Directions to Sycamore Canyon

Turn onto Tuzigoot Road from South Broadway [left heading towards Cottonwood, right heading towards Clarkdale].

After one mile turn left onto Sycamore Canyon Road, where signage is posted for the Lower TAPCO Access.

Two miles down the road, continue straight past the Lower TAPCO Access sign, which is located on the left.

Pass through a second narrow gate two miles further along. The first narrow gate is before the Lower TAPCO sign.

Three miles after, there will be the option to continue straight; follow the road left onto Forest Road 131.

Another three miles and you have arrived to the parking area, the sign for Parsons Trailhead should be easily seen on the right.

The tributary below is visible from the top of the trail head; that is the destination.

Follow the rocky trail down, and at the bottom continue to the right up wooden steps.

Soon after the trail smooths into dirt. Once you come across a large, fallen tree branch mostly separated from the trunk, you have arrived.

Find a place to relax to the left.

Cactus flowers can also be found in the area.

A view of the canyon from Parsons Trail Head. A short hike down the trail leads visitors to the quiet swimming area.