The best Sedona hikes! From leisurely walks through vortexes to steep inclines and heart-thumping views of the famous red rocks.
Sedona is by far one of my favorite places to go hiking in Arizona. The natural beauty is hard to beat, right up there with the Grand Canyon, and the different types of terrain and number of trails make it a mecca for both rock climbers and hiking enthusiasts who are visiting Arizona.
Although Sedona has continuously become more crowded in recent years, there are still secluded trails that you can find amidst the more touristy ones. These are my picks for the best hiking trails in Sedona, no matter what level of hiker you are and what type of experience you're looking for.
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Red Rock Crossing Trail - Most Family-Friendly Hike
Length: 1.1 mile back-and-forth
Time: 45 - 60 minutes
One of Sedona’s easiest hikes, Red Rock Crossing Trail takes you along a pleasantly winding creek that allows you to admire the beauty of the rock formations without having to scramble up boulders.
The creek can be quite wide, but there are enough logs and stones forming natural bridges that you can cross in order to get even better views. Remember to bring $10 in cash to park at the trailhead, which is near Crescent Moon Ranch.
Recommended Experience: Sedona Red Rocks Jeep Tour
West Fork Trail - Best Hike to Avoid the Heat
Length: 7.2 mile out-and-back
Time: 3 - 5 hours
If you don’t want to hike through snow or blazing heat, the West Fork Trail in Coconino National Park is a happy medium perfect for a summer hike.
Since it features tall cliff walls and a lot of trees, you spend the majority of the hike semi-shaded. To make this easy trail even more relaxing, you can wade upstream on the shallow creek bed if your feet can handle the pebbles.
You’ll find the trailhead if you take Highway 89A north of Sedona. The trailhead is located in the “Call of the Canyon” recreational area past Slide Rock State Park.
Fay Canyon Trail - Best Post-Snow/Rain Hike
Length: 2.6 mile out-and-back
Time: 1 - 2 hours
This trail will take you deep into Fay Canyon, where you will be rewarded with an incredible view of the canyon if you’re brave enough to climb some rocks at the end.
The trail is loose red powder, making this hike especially gorgeous in the aftermath of snow or rain. If you’re lucky and get to hike this trail after rainfall, you might even see a waterfall in action along the trail.
To find the trailhead, you’ll want to take Highway 89A and get off on Dry Creek Road. Keep going down the road until you hit Boynton Canyon Road. Follow Boynton Canyon Road until you hit the parking lot.
Teacup Trail - Best Gateway Hike
Length: 2.2 mile loop
Time: 1 - 1.5 hours
Sometimes, it seems that all of Sedona’s hikes seamlessly transition into each other. Teacup Trail is one easy hike that you should take if you’re interested in exploring a variety of other hikes.
You can easily switch off to other trails and landmarks like Sugarloaf Loop, Coffee Pot Rock, Soldier Pass, and the massive sinkhole Devil’s Kitchen. If you want to enjoy Teacup Trail just as it is, this trail will take you right up to the lower levels of the butte, and is great for walking your dog and especially nice to hike in the snow.
When you’re on Highway 89A, get off on Coffee Pot Drive and then turn on Little Elf Drive. You will find the Teacup Trailhead there.
Courthouse Butte/Bell Rock Hike - Best Hike for Photos & Geocaching
Length: 3.9 mile loop
Time: 1 - 1.5 hours
Sedona is known for its iconic views of the red rocks, so it’s only fair to call Bell Rock Hike an iconic trail in Red Rock Country.
Bell Rock features a relatively flat trail and varied terrain, so you can expect more than just stone to snap beautiful sunset photos of. Since Bell Rock also attracts a fair number of visitors every year, it’s fun to see when people place geocaches along the trail.
If you want to go somewhere less crowded, go visit Bell Rock’s neighbor, Courthouse Butte. Not only are you treated to fantastic rock formations similar to Bell Rock, but you can also visit the nearby Spaceship Rock.
To reach Bell Rock Hike’s trailhead, drive on Highway 179 past the Bell Rock formation until you see the parking lot for Courthouse Vista. You can access Bell Rock from here.
Airport Mesa/Airport Loop Trail - Best Hike to Meditate
Length: 3.2 mile loop
Time: 2-3 hours
Sedona is known for its “vortexes,” swirling centers of energy that are spiritually alive. Airport Mesa has one of four powerful vortexes in Sedona, which makes this vortex hike perfect for when you want to fit in a quick meditation or yoga session at the summit.
Just make sure you go on a day when it’s dry since rainy days can make the path uneven.
To find the trailhead, once you hit the junction between Highway 89A and 179, keep going west on 89A until you hit Airport Road on the left. Drive a half mile before you hit a turnout where you can park.
Recommended Experience: Sedona Vortex Tour
Devil’s Bridge Hike - Best Hike to Pose for a Picture
Length: 4.2 miles back-and-forth
Time: 2 hours
The Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in Sedona, and what a hell of an arch it is! While the actual trail to the bridge is less than a mile long, you still have to navigate your way through juniper-green brush and stone stairs to make it to the top.
The Bridge is still sturdy enough to walk across, but please use your best judgment and stay away from exposed areas. Expect some people to wait in line to take a picture on top of the arch.
To park at the trailhead off Dry Creek Road, you need to have a high-clearance vehicle that can survive the steep drive. If not, then you can park your low-clearance vehicle at the Dry Creek trailhead a mile away or at the Mescal trailhead.
Doe Mountain Trail - Best Hike for Walking Your Dog
Length: 1.2 miles back-and-forth
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
While Doe Mountain Trail is beautiful to hike while there’s some snow out, it’s especially stunning in the spring when the wildflowers finally bloom.
You can take your dog on a brisk walk up Doe Mountain since there are several switchbacks that you need to navigate, but it’s nothing you can’t manage if you’re wearing hiking shoes and are careful of slippery rock. Once you climb to the top, you’re greeted by 360 degree panoramic views of the mesa.
To access the trailhead, drive south on Hwy 89A through Sedona until you hit Dry Creek Road. Turn north on Dry Creek Road until you reach the Boynton Canyon intersection. Turn left and go on for about a mile until you reach the trailhead.
Boynton Canyon - Best Half-Day Hike
Length: 6.1 miles out-and-back
Time: 4 - 6 hours
Boynton Canyon is a box canyon with very little elevation gain, which means that you can take it easy for the first half of the hike. However, if you’re hiking closer to winter, the second half of the hike can get packed with snow, which makes for a potentially slushy hike.
If you’re willing to brave the elements, you'll not only enjoy a view of the entire canyon at the very end, but you'll also expose yourself to the Yin and Yang vortexes. Whether you’re touring the canyon for the towering cliffs or its spiritual energies, gorgeous views stay consistent throughout this long hike so don’t feel pressured to power through the end.
Similar to Doe Mountain Trail, you can access Boynton Canyon by driving through Sedona on Hwy 89A until you reach Dry Creek Road. Turn right on Dry Creek Road, and there should be signs pointing you to Boynton Canyon. The trailhead is right outside Enchantment Resort.
Recommended Experience: Sedona Broken Arrow Jeep Tour
Mescal Trail - Best Trail for Mountain Biking
Length: 5.6 miles out-and-back
Time: 2 - 3.5 hours
Although Mescal Trail doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain, the fact that this trail is more out of the way makes it more popular with mountain bikers and equestrians than hikers.
However, you can’t beat Mescal Trail if you want to enjoy the sunset and crimson rocks in tranquility. You can also easily transition into Deadman’s Pass and Boynton Canyon once you get halfway through Mescal Trail.
The Mescal trailhead is on Long Canyon Road off of Dry Creek Road. You can park on the east side of Long Canyon Road.
Cookstove Trail - Best Hike for a Quick Cardio Sesh
Length: 1 mile out-and-back
Time: 1 - 1.5 hours
Cookstove Trail is ideal to visit between April and November since most of the trail is shaded by trees. You can squeeze a sweaty cardio session on the switchbacks as you make your way up to the top, or you can take your time to watch the nearby flora and fauna. Either way, the trail is steep so make sure you bring a lot of water.
The trailhead is easily accessible if you happen to be staying at the Pine Flats campground.
If you’re not camping at Pine Flats, there’s a water spigot across the trailhead that’s a popular parking spot!
Wilson Canyon Trail - Best Hike to See White Sandstone
Length: 2.7 miles back-and-forth
Time: 1 - 2 hours
If you don’t want to dedicate long hours to hiking Boynton Canyon, Wilson Canyon is a great, shorter alternative. Once you’re on the trail, you’ll follow a streambed that may or may not be full depending on which season you visit.
However, it’s guaranteed that you will be surrounded by buttes of lovely white and red sandstone, Arizona cypress and oak, and Steamboat Rock.
Wilson Canyon Trail is found near the intersection of Hwy 89A and 179, just 2 miles north on 89A. There, you can find parking near Midgley Bridge and the picnic ramada that marks the trailhead.
Soldier Pass Trail - Best Quiet Hike
Length: 4.1 miles out-and-back
Time: 2 - 3 hours
Want to avoid the crowds? Soldier Pass Trail is a quieter hike that will take you through stunning sights such as the 7 Sacred Pools, an old Native American watering hole. If you want to make a longer hike out of Soldier Pass, you can transition into Brin’s Mesa and Jordan Trail to complete a loop.
If you drive down Hwy 89A past the junction of 89A and 179, you’ll eventually find Soldier Pass Road on your right. Follow the road to Rim Shadows Drive and find trailhead parking at the end. Soldier Pass Trail is accessible via two trailheads, both of which require a Red Rocks Pass that you can buy from a machine.
Cathedral Rock Hike - Best Hike to Stand on Top of the World
Length: 1.2 miles back-and-forth
Time: 45 - 60 minutes
This short hike looks deceptively easy, but a steep climb at the end to reach Cathedral Rock kicks the difficulty up a notch. The cardio will be well worth it though since you’re treated to incredible views from the very top.
Head over to Cathedral Rock on a sunny day, since rain can make the last part of the climb at the end muddy. Afterward, you can explore the nearby trails that branch off from Cathedral Rock Hike.
The trailhead can be accessed via the Back’O’Beyond Road where there is a small area for parking. You can also access Cathedral Rock Hike from the Baldwin and Templeton trails.
Bear Mountain Hike - Best Hike to Work Up a Sweat
Length: 4.3 miles out-and-back
Time: 3 - 5 hours
Most likely the hardest hike in Sedona, Bear Mountain Hike is a tough climb for most visitors, even if you’re in decent shape.
Bring plenty of water, especially if you are a casual hiker who isn’t used to steep inclines. However, if you start early to beat the heat, watch out for false summits, and don’t quit until you reach the very top. You can reward yourself with a well-deserved snack break paired with incredible views.
To reach Bear Mountain Hike, you’ll want to follow the same directions you did for Boynton Canyon. Drive through Sedona on Hwy 89A until you reach Dry Creek Road. Turn right on Dry Creek Road, turn left on Boynton Pass Road, and then turn right onto Forest Road 152C until you find parking at the trailhead.
Quick Tips for Hiking in Sedona
Hiking in Red Rock Country is a bucket-list item for those who dream about spending their days surrounded by endless nature. That being said, hiking in Sedona is very different from hiking in Maui or Lake Tahoe, so here are a few tips for hiking in the desert.
Looking to Avoid the Heat? Hike Early!
Humid heat is one beast, and dry heat is an entirely different one. If you’re not a fan of having your skin scorched by UV rays or having to fight other visitors for a parking spot, kill two birds with one stone and start your hike early. You get to beat the crowds, the heat, and never have to wait in lines for your ideal photo shoot.
Keep Plenty of Water on You
People might see this tip and think, duh, Sedona’s a desert and deserts tend to be hot and dry. However, people don’t bring enough water all the time and underestimate how hot it can be even on the easy, flat trails.
Bring Cash When You’re Parking
Depending on the popularity of the trail you’re going to, parking can either be plentiful or limited. Make sure that you bring cash just in case you need to pay to secure your hard-earned parking spot!
Don’t Leave Trash Behind
The reason why Sedona stays so beautiful and well-maintained is because visitors are generally respectful of the landscape and don’t leave anything behind. This includes sandwich wrappers, bread crusts, saran wrap -- anything that could harm the environment or the wildlife.
Take It Easy
Thankfully, there aren’t too many trails in Sedona that will require the stamina of an Olympian. However, it’s easy to underestimate how much energy you’ll spend when you’re out in the heat all day on even the easiest of trails. Don’t be afraid to slow down and really soak in the scenery around you if you need a break!
Sedona Hiking Tours
There are so many places to explore in Sedona that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Sedona is filled with A+ professional tours where guides will take you to the must-see spots, point out where the best photo ops are, and experience the full beauty of Sedona’s valleys and mesas.
It’s easy to go hiking through Red Rock Country and miss some of its best-kept secrets. If you book this 3-hour hiking tour, a professional Sedona hiking guide will take you on your choice of trail (including Airport Loop, Doe Mountain, Bell Rock, and more).
The red rocks of Sedona are glorious as is, but nothing can beat the sight of seeing these magnificent rock formations awash in the soft glow of dawn. On this tour, you get to climb 400 feet up to witness the sun rise slowly over the valley.
It’s hard not to feel that there’s something mysterious and spiritual living in this majestic vista. Hop on a private jeep tour with a professional guide to learn more about the vortex hikes in Sedona and their sacred phenomena.
Other Recommended Sedona Tours
Where to Stay in Sedona
Sky Ranch Lodge – If you’re looking for an affordable accommodation in Sedona that offers breathtaking views, look no further than Sky Ranch Lodge. The lodge is all about that rustic charm and comfort and located on top of a mesa for optimal views. Check availability here.
Casa Sedona Inn – An accommodation full of personal touches, welcoming hospitality, and a breakfast that guests constantly rave about. Great for couples or friends who are looking for a tranquil and romantic property off the main road. Check availability here.
A Sunset Chateau B&B – One of the top rated boutique bed & breakfasts in Sedona, filled with whimsical artwork, a delicious breakfast, pool, stunning views every direction you look. The property is located next to some of the most popular Arizona hiking trails in Sedona. Check availability here.
Looking for more hiking inspiration? Check out my guides for Maui, Oahu, San Diego, New Zealand'sAbel Tasman Track and Tongariro Crossing, Australia's Blue Mountains, Royal National Park and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, as well as my trek in Myanmar.
Also check out my posts on the best GPS devices for hikers here.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR SEDONA
Book a vacation rental on AirBnB (and get $40 off your first booking).
Buy your Arizona Guide here.
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