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Mon, July 13

Forest Service: Hikers staying off closed Sedona trails

Two people check out the sign closing the Courthouse Vista Trailhead parking lot on Tuesday which was closed over the weekend due to coronavirus concerns. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Two people check out the sign closing the Courthouse Vista Trailhead parking lot on Tuesday which was closed over the weekend due to coronavirus concerns. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

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Three hikers are atop Bell Rock on Tuesday. The Bell Rock Trailhead, where the parking lot and bathroom is located, is closed but the Bell Rock Trail is not closed, according to the Forest Service. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

SEDONA - No citations were written to hikers violating the new trail and trailhead closures in Sedona imposed over the weekend, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest ¬closed its highest-use trails, trailheads and day-use sites in the Sedona area last Saturday in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Forest Service employees and law enforcement officers were to patrol the closed areas, and citations were to be given to those who ignored the closures, the forest service said.

“Overall, people were respectful of the closures, and the small amount of people that we encountered were unaware and left the area after being informed of the restrictions,” explained Brady Smith, public affairs officer for the U.S. Forest Service.

“As such, no citations were given in relation to these new trailhead closures, as we seek first to educate folks any time there is a change from normal operations.”

Three people were seen hiking on Bell Rock Tuesday but Brady said Bell Rock Trail is not closed, just the Bell Rock Trailhead. The trailhead is where the parking lot and facilities are located.

No hikers could be seen hiking on the popular trails at Cathedral Rock Tuesday where the trailhead and trails were closed. A forest service employee sat parked in a marked vehicle monitoring the closed parking lot.

The following trails, trailheads and day-use sites were closed last weekend until further notice:

• Beaver Creek Day-Use Site

• Bell Rock Trailhead

• Cathedral Rock Trailhead and Trail

• Courthouse Vista Trailhead

• Crescent Moon Day-Use Site

• Devil’s Bridge Trail, including OHV access and surrounding associated trails:

• Dry Creek Trailhead

• Long Canyon Trailhead

• Mescal Trailhead

• West Fork Trailhead and Trail

Sedona City Manager Justin Clifton said there appears to be less people in Sedona since the beginning of the coronavirus emergency, but they don’t actually have comprehensive objective data.

“Last weekend was the first with some of the local trail closures and there were certainly hikers, but nowhere near the numbers we would see this time of year,” he said Wednesday. “Visitation has been slow and slowing steadily since restrictions have ramped up.”

Clifton said they would continue to collect data to provide for a trend-line.

Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty Yavapai County Supervisor Randy Garrison, and Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff all supported the Forest Service closing the popular trails and trailheads in Sedona last week.

The Sedona Chamber of Commerce also asked visitors postpone trips to Sedona during the coronavirus crisis last week.

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