One of Arizona’s most beautiful regions is Sedona, which is also one of the greatest places for casual hikers wishing to spend a few hours exploring the red rocks and picturesque valleys. Top hiking trails in Sedona? Continue reading.
The trails here range from straightforward, kid-friendly routes that go around buttes or along the bottom of cliff walls to more difficult routes that take you far above the town to ridges with breathtaking views. A natural bridge, waterfalls and streams, organisms, and even energy vortexes are some of the other delights on some pathways.
Since Sedona is located at an elevation of over 4,300 feet, the hiking trails there are not as hot as those in Phoenix or Tucson, but they are still cool enough for year-round hiking. The hiking trails in Sedona are no longer a secret, and they are frequently crowded, particularly during the summer. Arizona’s Sedona should be at the top of your list if it isn’t already. Sedona is a must-see destination because of the fantastic weather, stunning scenery and red rocks, and numerous hiking options.
Sedona, Arizona, is a challenging place to beat if you’re seeking a great hiking vacation. This is a fantastic area to explore on foot with its red sandstone beauty, arches, secret caves, and network of hiking routes. Sedona is a fantastic getaway location, whether it’s for a few days or a whole week, especially when you consider the plethora of excellent hotels and dining options there.
1. Top 15 Hiking Trails in Sedona
If you weren’t aware, Sedona, Arizona, is one of the top places to go hiking in the country. The area, which is in the heart of red rock country, is packed with easy day walks, making it a popular destination for all hikers, including children.
The top Sedona hiking routes are known for their breathtaking views. Numerous trails begin in broad valleys that are surrounded by towering red rock walls and scattered pinyon pine trees. You’ll soon find yourself in the heavens and atop majestic mesas, staring down on the amazing planet below.
There are hiking routes in Sedona for every skill level, which is one of its many attractions. You won’t be let down by Sedona, whether you come with kids and are seeking something a bit simpler or you are an avid hiker looking for a challenge.
All of these treks in Sedona, from the iconic and well-known Cathedral Rock to the splendor of the sacred waters, will leave you wanting more. In this region of Arizona, there are numerous hiking paths, and each person has a favorite.
These are our top picks for Sedona hiking routes, and we think you’ll agree. Visitors to Sedona will also benefit from the Verde Valley Wine Trail and a quaint tiny town with a lovely art culture. Freshen yourself and take in some local culture after your hike.
1.1. Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock, one of Sedona’s most well-liked treks, captures the essence of the area. A massive wall serves as the ideal backdrop as you journey past impressive red rocks and patches of green among the desert hues. All hikers, both children and adults, can complete the Cathedral Rock trail because of its length. There are some steep sections of the hike, and there will be some quick rock scrambling necessary.
The good news is that you can trek up the east side of Cathedral Rock in less than a mile and get your first taste of Sedona’s breathtaking views there. You won’t reach the summit on this trail; rather, you’ll soon find yourself seated on a saddle. Two imposing red sandstone towers, resembling the flanks of a huge cathedral, will be visible to either side.
The famous Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte may be seen from your elevated vantage point, and the rolling Wild West landscape will be stretched out in front of you like a delectable banquet. Check to see if you can sense one of Sedona’s four legendary vortexes in action before heading back to the trailhead. They’re said to promote inner healing and provide a little tingling feeling.
1.2. Bear Mountain Trail
One of Sedona’s top easy hikes is Cathedral Rock. However, if you’re up for a thigh-burning, sweat-inducing climb under the scorching Arizona sun, head to the Bear Mountain Trail’s trailhead. Even though Bear Mountain’s hike to the top is only 5 miles long, there is a significant amount of elevation gain. As you meander your way to the top, remember to bring plenty of water and give yourself plenty of time to rest.
You’ll start in the valley, beneath towering pine trees. However, they pale in comparison to the enormous rock walls that can be seen in the distance. As soon as you reach the peak, the exhausting ascent and drenching in perspiration are instantly worth it. Few trails in Sedona offer a genuine summit-bagging experience, but many lead to stunning red rock views. The best of them is this.
One of the highest points in the area, Bear Mountain rewards you with breathtaking views of the beautiful Mogollon Rim and the distant, frequently snow-capped San Francisco Peaks.
1.3. Devils Bridge
On nearly every list of the top hikes in Sedona, Devils Bridge is included. with justification. With its purely natural sandstone arch spanning two red rock towers, it provides a vista straight out of Arches National Park.
The impressive sight is the busiest photographic location in the area, and when you consider the straightforward access trail, it’s simple to understand why.
There are only a few miles between the trailhead and Devil’s Bridge, making travel easy. Everyone can hike this trail. In actuality, navigating the throng is the only challenging aspect of the straightforward hike. You’ll be stopped in your tracks when you see Devil’s Bridge. The steps leading to the bridge itself will then be visible, allowing you to cross it safely. Simply be ready to stand in line.
1.4. Boynton Canyon Trail
The Boynton Canyon Trail is lengthy but not as challenging as the Bear Mountain Trail. You may have an interesting 7.5-mile excursion while seeing some of the best vistas in the area when you combine this hike with the Boynton Vista Trail and the Subway Cave.
You’ll be relieved to learn that the Boynton Canyon Trail is primarily level after that strenuous ascent if your thighs are still burning. The easy climb leads you through a valley of pinyon pines that is pretty green, and the high canyon walls offer some welcome shade from the sun.
Return to the main trail and follow the flat path until it starts to ascend to a viewpoint. Prepare your lunch, relax, and take in the beauties of Boynton Canyon, Deadman’s Pass, and Mescal Mountain.
1.5. Doe Mountain Trail
This climb is a strong contender for the best hike in Sedona because of the stunning views, the peace, and the opportunity to explore a mesa’s summit. This 1.2-mile out-and-back trail leads to the flat summit of Doe Mountain via a steady and gentle rise. From one end of the mesa to the other, the trail is flat up here.
The summit of the mountain appears to be quite isolated from the valley below, like a place all by itself, but there are still animals like birds and rabbits to be seen. Despite being a busy trek, it’s simple to find a quiet spot to take in the breathtaking scenery.
Although there are panoramic views in every direction, notable sights include Mescal Mountain, Courthouse Butte, Fay Canyon, and Bear Mountain. The far end of the hike offers the southwest corner of the mesa the best views. There is plenty of parking available at the trailhead, which is along Boynton Pass Road and has a total elevation increase of around 425 feet.
1.6. Fay Canyon
One of Sedona’s most breathtaking regions, Fay Canyon, is traversed by this simple 2.4-mile trail. The hike allows you to go directly beneath the cliff walls and hanging gardens, taking you straight into the heart of the red rocks.
This hiking walk gives some shade for the majority of the trip, which is uncommon for many other hiking trails in the Sedona area, especially in the summertime and in the spring when all the leaves are out. A massive formation of stones and canyon walls on either side mark the trail’s finish.
The maintained trail comes to an end at a sign, but you can continue and climb up on the rocks for a better perspective of the canyon. All levels of hikers may complete this trail, which has a modest 190-foot elevation increase, and kids will particularly love climbing the rocks at the trail’s finish.
1.7. Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
This climb offers unending views of Courthouse Butte, the magnificent Mogollon Rim, Bell Rock, and even a smaller spaceship-shaped rock towards the trail’s end.
The best way to complete this modest 3.9-mile loop is clockwise. On this hike, you’ll experience a little bit of everything, but the best part is the solitude you’ll have once you get away from the crowds that swarm the Bell Rock region.
The trail travels on level terrain with a slight elevation increase of about 350 feet. Parking at the Courthouse Vista lot is recommended, but if it’s full, you can also park at the Bell Rock Vista lot, which is a little bit further on toward the Village of Oak Creek.
1.8. Airport Mesa Trail/Airport Loop Trail
This circle hike provides breathtaking views of West Sedona, Highway 179, the Mogollon Rim, and the region that surrounds it. For a fantastic perspective of the city and beyond, it hugs the perimeter of the airport while following the edge of the Airport Mesa, high above the valley.
There are drop-offs along several of the trail’s portions, so kids might not want to go there. There isn’t much shelter on this hike and the sun can be very strong. Although it can be a lovely temperature for hiking on cool winter days.
The Airport Mesa Trail has a total length of 3.5 miles and gains 200 feet in elevation. The Airport Overlook Trail, a quick detour up to the overlook, is located at the trail’s beginning. It’s also where one of Sedona’s energy vortexes is located.
1.9. Bell Rock Pathway
Bell Rock is easily identifiable along Highway 179, close to the community of Oak Creek, thanks to its distinctive shape. Visitors come here to walk, ride, and take in the scenery. This landmark draws hikers in with its sloping walls, which are deceptively steep up close.
The Bell Rock Trail is a very simple and open road that is appropriate for hikers of all ages and skill levels, but it does present some optional obstacles for those who desire to ascend the bell a short way. Walking on portions of red slickrock when you are on the formation itself. Up until you begin descending towards the Village of Oak Creek, the trail is wide and somewhat flat as you circle Bell Rock.
From the Bell Rock Vista driveway to the Courthouse Vista parking lot, the main Bell Rock Trail runs. It is suggested that you park at the Courthouse Vista parking location, hike the first 1.5 miles, and then return the same route, even though this part is 3.6 miles long.
Contrary to popular belief, this trail does not encircle Bell Rock’s base. Just a field separates Bell Rock from the area near the Bell Rock Vista parking lot. There is a side route that takes you up to the lower portions of Bell Rock, where you can climb it if you so choose.
1.10. West Fork Trail
The stunning Oak Creek Canyon’s West Fork Trail is unique from many of the other well-liked hikes in the Sedona vicinity. The trail passes beautiful rock formations that the rushing waters have carved as it follows and occasionally crosses West Fork Creek.
For hikers seeking to avoid the sweltering desert sun in the summer, the trail offers lots of shade, water, and tree cover. The 6.9-mile-long and 400-foot-high West Fork Trail is an in-and-out path, so you can make it as long or short as you wish. The trailhead is situated along Highway 89A towards Flagstaff, 11 miles north of Sedona.
1.11. Soldier Pass
One of the most remarkable hikes in the Sedona area is the Soldier Pass path. The enormous Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole and the stunning Seven Sacred Pools, a significant holy site for the indigenous population, are notable locations here. Depending on the season, the pools may not have much water in them.
In comparison to other walks, the 4.1-mile loop trail is typically less congested. There has been an elevation gain of roughly 600 feet. There is a modest parking space at the trailhead with room for eight to ten vehicles. If you can’t park in the lot, you’ll need to drive an additional mile roundtrip because street parking is not permitted within half a mile of the trailhead due to objections from nearby neighbors.
You travel through the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness on the magnificent trail. The Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole is one of the initial highlights. The signage along its eastern side provides the greatest explanation for the enormous landmark’s stunning appearance.
The well-known Seven Sacred Pools are the next destination on the trek. After a rain, it becomes particularly dramatic. It has a location where you can sit, get wet, and cool off, as well as flowing waterfalls when it’s at its best.
Before proceeding on to complete the loop, hikers can additionally add a quick diversion to Soldier Pass cave. There isn’t much parking at the trailhead for people arriving by car. You can park at the larger Brins Mesa Trailhead and combine this trek with Brins Mesa.
Mescal is frequently connected to mountain biking, but it also makes for a fantastic hike. Once you get to a certain point, it becomes fairly level and is usually less congested. The views are also excellent. Mescal Mountain is skirted by the trail. You hug the brink of a massive rock tower and gaze out to breathtaking views that include Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Butte.
Depending on the time of year, you might witness the ocotillo in bloom or a variety of tiny desert flowers that are illuminated by the light in hues of yellow, pink, or purple. Typically, March is the wildflower season’s prime viewing month.
The 2.4-mile out-and-back trail has an elevation gain of about 200 feet. On this trail, watch out for mountain bikers. The Chuckwagon Trailhead is across the street from the trailhead, which is situated off Long Canyon Road. If you want to refuel your emotional batteries at one of Sedona’s legendary energy vortexes, mescal can also be connected with the Boynton Canyon overlook.
1.13. Birthing Cave
The Birthing Cave is one of the simplest walks that offers some of the best pictures to show all your friends. This two-mile trip is simple and well-liked, with only a 400-foot elevation rise, and is reached via a branch of the comparatively level Long Canyon Trail. The Long Canyon Trail’s Mountain bikers pose the only threat.
Before it was “discovered” and eventually found its way onto the social media platform Instagram in recent years, the cave was largely unknown and a local’s secret. It is recommended to enter the enormous cave as far back as you can and use your phone’s wide-angle mode to take the best pictures.
Later in the afternoon is the best time to visit the cave to avoid crowds, increase your chances of finding a good parking area, and take the greatest pictures.
1.14. Brins Mesa Trail
Take into account the Brins Mesa hike if you want a trail that is a little bit different from most of the Sedona trails in terms of location. The hike’s summit offers sweeping views of the surroundings as well as Coffee Pot Rock and the Chimney Rocks, two of Sedona’s most well-known landmarks.
The route leaves on the left side of the road and is only a short distance up Oak Canyon from the trailhead. The remainder of the route ascends gradually at first, making the steep segment not too challenging until you get to it. The trail is relatively lengthy at six miles return and counts on nearly 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
1.15. Montezuma Castle and Well
Consider the neighboring trails at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument if all the walks on the previous list seem a little overwhelming or if you have some mobility concerns. Here, you can choose between a longer and a shorter path that, for a relatively little energy investment, both provide a lot of history, nature, and landscape.
The Montezuma Well route leads to a massive, 386-foot-wide sinkhole that is surrounded by water. It seems impossible that such a sizable body of water could exist in such arid surroundings. Here, estimated 10,000-year-old water comes up from the ground and runs out via ancient channels. Despite some claims to the contrary, the pool is 55 feet deep.
The trail is 0.7 miles long and has a very minor ascent. The trail’s initial section is open with little to no shade; the second section, past Montezuma Well, travels through a lush oasis with a babbling river running alongside it. To get back to the parking area, the loop’s rear portion once more travels through an open desert.
Spend some time wandering along the Montezuma Castle National Monument trail after finishing the Montezuma Well route. From the visitor center to the cliff houses, a 0.4-mile loop path runs beneath imposing Sycamore trees. Take a moment at the terminus to admire the amazing structures that are poised above you beneath a big rock overhang.
1.16. Wilson Canyon Trail
The Wilson Canyon Trail gets underway with the well-known Midgley Bridge and gets off to a fast start. This hike’s strength is that it covers a lot of breathtaking terrain in a short amount of time. It’s a terrific way to start or end the day because there is so much to do around.
By Sedona standards, the Wilson Canyon Trail offers hikers a substantial amount of shade. There is a brook not far from the walkway if you want to cool yourself even more.
It’s a stroll amid stunning nature with little elevation increase. You’ll be glad to know that the Wilson Canyon Trail is suitable for hikers of all ages if you’re trying to include more treks for families in your itinerary.
1.17. Munds Wagon Trail
The Munds Wagon Trail is one for the history books, not so much for the trail itself as for where it terminates. You may reach Carousel Rock, also known as the Merry Go Round Rock, via an 8-mile out-and-back journey. Hikers frequently pop the question or take pictures of their weddings here. You’ll realize why once you’ve seen the views.
To travel to Carousel Rock, there are two options. The alternate route departs from a location lower down Schnebly Hill Rd. But it’s best to maintain the status quo unless you have a four-wheel drive.
The first four kilometers of the Munds Wagon Trail have a respectable amount of elevation rise. You’ll pass another noteworthy location on the way, a group of rocks known as Cow Pies. However, keep going until you get to Carousel Walk. Bring out the trail mix and enjoy the breathtaking scenery, which includes Bear Wallow Canyon and Munds Mountain.
1.18. Keyhole Cave Via the Sugarloaf Trail
This amazing cave is one that we love exploring on foot. This is a fantastic choice if you want to explore a cave but want to avoid the crowded paths of Soldiers Pass or Boynton Canyon. Compared to other Sedona hiking paths, it is less traveled.
The Sugarloaf Trailhead’s parking lot is modest, but because the treks are relatively short, it fills up quickly. The Keyhole Cave is really visible from the parking area once you’ve parked.
The trail you are on will shift a few times as you go to the Keyhole Cave, so it’s a good idea to be well aware of where you are going and have the GPS coordinates of the cave to ensure you are traveling in the proper direction.
It is advised that only seasoned hikers attempt this trip because it does entail going up roughly 10 feet of slippery rock. Some footholds on the cave’s right side have been worn down, making it a little simpler to climb up.
1.19. West Fork Trail
The West Fork Trail, which hugs Oak Creek’s edge, offers a hike unlike any other in our program. The walls of Oak Creek Canyon were originally formed by the creek that runs along the valley, and it now serves as a haven for a variety of species.
Nearly the entire length of the trail follows the creek, providing plenty of shade and the soothing sound of the water trickling by. Even Oak Creek will need to be crossed several times. You can always switch to this trail to avoid the heat without skipping a day of trekking if the sun is shining more intensely than normal. It’s also one of Sedona’s simpler long hiking trails with little elevation gain.
The creative carving of the creek, which causes the canyon to occasionally curl up like a wave, is one of the trek’s highlights. It aids in displaying various sedimentary strata and a spectrum of rusted colors. If you want a real challenge, carry on past the turning point and travel another 4 kilometers to the canyon’s conclusion.
2. Amazing Tips for Hikers
Now that the top hiking routes in Sedona have been explored, let’s look at some practical considerations and ways to maximize the experience.
2.1. Come Early
Sedona is a well-known destination. People flock to the Arizonan town regularly to enjoy the scenery and trek the unforgettable routes since it has become a hiking hotspot. At places like Devil’s Bridge, the crowds are practically impossible to avoid.
However, you can give yourself a chance by setting out early, stopping for lunch, and going on another hike at dusk. You might use this time to discover Sedona’s wonderful wineries and art scene.
2.2. Take Multiple Hikes
Small parking lots are one difficult problem brought on by Sedona’s rising popularity. Numerous trailheads have parking spaces for as few as a dozen cars, and the majority of them are full.
To avoid having to drive and find another parking lot, it can be helpful to choose a beginning place like Jim Thompson Trailhead, which provides access to several fantastic treks.
2.3. Drink Your Water
We all understand that Sedona is a desert region, yet it can be tempting to put off drinking water until the next rest stop. Staying hydrated and moving quickly is crucial to having a good time while you’re here.
In Sedona, shade is a rare luxury, making it challenging to catch up if you fall behind on maintaining proper hydration.
2.4. Get a Red Rock Pass
Probably already know that Arizona offers some of the most incredible hiking trails in both the United States and the rest of the world if you’re planning a vacation to go hiking in Sedona.
A Red Rock Pass is required if you want to hike in Sedona. Planning, doing your homework, and knowing what you’re looking for will make your trip to Sedona, Arizona, much more successful and safer.
2.5. Avoid Short-Term Vacation Rentals
Housing expenses are rising in areas like Bend and Sedona as well as the larger cities on the West Coast. While there’s no doubt that short-term rentals like Airbnb are a contributing factor, they’re not the main cause.
Tourists find Sedona to be especially alluring because there don’t seem to be many locals living there. After all, so many homes are holiday rentals. Instead, stay at a hotel or campground.
2.6. Wear Solid Boots
One of the most incredible hiking locations in North America is Sedona. Because of this, it is a highly well-liked holiday spot, so if you want to have the best experience possible, you must come prepared!
Because many of the hikes involve some scrambling, boots with traction are important. Sturdy hiking boots with ankle support will protect your feet and allow you to continue walking throughout the entire trip.
Even if it’s only for a few days, Sedona is a fantastic spot to visit because of the red rocks that stretch as far as the eye can see, as well as the lush vegetation and stunning Oak Creek. On your Arizona road trip, Sedona hiking ought to be at the highest point of your list of things to do.
Sedona is home to numerous great hikes, from short strolls through unexpectedly green canyons to strenuous climbs that reward you with panoramic views. There are several hiking routes in Sedona to select from, no matter your level of fitness or expertise.
Sedona represents one of Arizona’s most unique and stunning regions for hikers looking to spend time outdoors exploring the red rocks and lovely valleys. Along with the breathtaking views, highlights consist of a natural bridge, waterways and lakes, wildlife, and even electricity vortexes.
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