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16 BEST HIKES IN SEDONA, ARIZONA

In case you haven’t heard, Sedona, Arizona is one of the top hiking destinations in the United States. Located in the heart of Red Rock Country, the region is packed with moderate day hikes making it accessible to all hikers. 

Epic views surround it. Many routes start in broad valleys, surrounded by towering red rock faces and a handful of stone pines. 

The beauty of Sedona’s hiking trails is that there is something for every hiker. You won’t be disappointed in Sedona, whether traveling with kids, looking for something a little easier, or a die-hard hiker looking for a challenge.

Best Sedona hiking trails

There are many hiking Sedona trails in this part of Arizona, and everyone has a favorite. Those who visit Sedona are blessed with a charming little town with an arts scene and the Verde Valley Wine Trail. Isn’t it incredible that after your hikes, you can enjoy the local culture?

Here are the 16 best hiking trails in Sedona:

1. Cathedral Rock Sedona Hiking

One of the most popular hikes in Sedona, Cathedral Rock encapsulates what the area is all about. The loop hike takes you past majestic red rocks and the patches of green amidst the arid colors, with high walls providing the perfect backdrop.

 The length of the Cathedral Rock Trail makes it accessible to all hikers, young and old. The hike is steep in parts and requires a bit of rock scrambling along the way. However, the good news is that it takes less than a mile to scale the east face of Cathedral Rock. 

Where you’ll first taste  Sedona’s epic sights, the path does not lead upwards, but soon you are sitting on a saddle. There will be two red rock towers on each side, rising like the flanks of a great church. 

From your elevated vantage point, you can see the legendary Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte with the rolling countryside of the wild west spread out before you like a delicious buffet. Before heading back to the trailhead, see if you can feel any of Sedona’s four famous Ned vortices at work. They are said to cause a slight tingling sensation and promote internal healing.

2. Bear Mountain Trail Hiking Sedona

Cathedral Rock is one of the best moderate hikes in Sedona. But, if you’re in the mood for a climb that can burn your thighs and make you sweat in the scorching Arizona sun, then head to the trailhead of the Bear Mountain Trail.

Although the hike to the top of Bear Mountain is only 5 miles, it involves a significant amount of elevation gain. You’ll need plenty of water and rest before winding your way up.

You start down the valley with the pines towering over you. However, they are only dwarfs compared to the massive rock faces that loom in the distance. 

You’ll find the climb is worth it once you stand at the top. Many hikes in Sedona take you to beautiful red rock landscapes, but few offer an actual summit experience.

 Bear Mountain is one of the region’s highest peaks, rewarding you with enviable views of the majestic Mogollon Rim, often called the snow-capped peaks of San Francisco.

 

16 BEST HIKES IN SEDONA, ARIZONA

 

3. Boynton Canyon Trail Best Hiking in Sedona

The Boynton Canyon Trail is long but not as tricky as the Bear Mountain  Trail and is packed with highlights. When you combine this hike with the Boynton Vista Trail and  Subway Cave, you’ll see some of the best views in town in one exhilarating 7.5-mile adventure. 

With thighs still burning from that big climb, you’ll be pleased to know that the Boynton Canyon Trail is mostly flat. The moderate hike takes you through a relatively lush valley dotted with stone pines, with the gorge’s towering cliffs offering shelter from the sun.

While hiking takes some time to detour on the Boynton Vista Trail. Bonyon Canyon Trail takes you to fabulous views of the valley and the red rocks.  Take your lunch with you, relax, and enjoy the views of Mescal Mountain, Deadman’s Pass, and the rest of Boynton Canyon.

4. Devils Bridge

Devils Bridge tops almost every list of the best hikes in Sedona, and that too for a good reason. It offers scenes straight out of Arches National Park with its natural sandstone arch connecting two red rock towers. 

Getting to Devils Bridge is easy as there are only a few miles between the trailhead and the waypoint. It’s a hike for everyone.

The only tricky part of the easy hike is navigating the crowds. It helps to get to the trailhead early, but not as much as other major hiking Sedona Az destinations. 

5. West Fork Trail (Oak Creek Canyon)

The West Fork Trail on the edge of Oak Creek is an experience unlike any other hike in our guidebook. The creek that flows through the valley of Oak Creek Canyon first eroded the walls and is now home to vegetation. 

The trail offers plenty of shade and the beautiful murmur of the water. You can always walk this trail to escape the heat without missing a day of hiking. It’s also one of Sedona’s most accessible long-distance hikes with minimal elevation gain. 

6. Fay Canyon Trail

The Fay Canyon Trail is a fantastic option if you want a quick hike in and out without minimizing the spectacular scenery. The 2.5-mile loop takes you through a majestic landscape with towering red rock cliffs looming to your left and right.

 You will discover a brilliant variety of vegetation that complements the colorful rock along the trail.

Native flora includes rows of cacti and yucca and vibrant, dry wildflowers that transform the area into a desert rainbow. Greenery lies along the soaring walls, and you will feel surrounded by Mother Nature’s magnificent handwork. However, everything comes to a head once the sublime Fay Canyon Arch comes into view. 

Hikers can take a short detour to stand at its base. Continue at the turning point of the main trail and do some easy climbing to an elevated viewpoint. 

7. Soldier Pass Trail (Waterfall Sedona Hiking)

Similar to the Boynton Canyon hike, the Solider Pass Trail is a hike that leads to several memorable sights. Relatively easy hike with minimal elevation gain along the 4-mile loop trail. Not as crowded as some of the other central hikes in Sedona. 

The spectacular route takes you through the heart of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. One of the first highlights is Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole. It’s a stunning sight. Along the way are the Seven Sacred Pools.

 It features waterfalls and a place to sit. Add a detour to the Soldier Pass cave before continuing the loop. For those driving to the trailhead, parking at the trailhead is minimal. You can combine this hike with Brins Mesa and park at the larger Brins Mesa Trailhead.

8. Bell Rock Hiking Near Sedona

Climbing Bell Rock should be at the top of your Sedona hiking itinerary. The circular hike is straightforward and leads to one of the most striking landmarks in the region. As the name suggests, this red rock shape is formed like a bell

It’s one of those easy to spot from various vantage points around Sedona. But once you’ve seen it from afar, you’ll want a closer perspective. Aside from watching Bell Rock, the trail itself is a lot of fun. 

The family hike starts moderately complex to the foot of the rock. From there, the trail disappears, and the race begins. 

9. Doe Mountain Trail

Hikers will find classic Arizona mesas on the beautiful Doe Mountain Trail. They’re not scarce in  Sedona, but Doe Mountain brings you to one of the best. Along the way, you’ll be blessed with solitude, a rare trait among the best hikes in Sedona. 

The short walk is just over a mile long but takes you to secluded views of Doe Mountain. After climbing to the top of the impressive Table Mountain, you’ll have a nice flat ride as you hike from end to end. With the valley far below, it’s like walking onto an elevated platform hanging from the sky. 

There isn’t much that can’t be seen from the top of Doe Mountain from such heights. Enjoy panoramic views of Fay Canyon, Bear Mountain, and Chimney Rock in all their glory.

10. Munds Wagon Trail

Not so much because of the trail itself, but because of its ending, the Munds Wagon Trail is one for the books. 

The 8-mile loop hike takes you to Carousel Rock, also known as Merry Go Round Rock. Hikers are often found here taking or proposing their wedding photos.

Once you’ve seen the sights, you’ll understand why there are two ways to get to Carousel Rock. The other option is a shorter trail off Schnebly Hill Rd. With 4WD, it’s best to stick with the status quo. 

The Munds Wagon Trail has a decent incline that stretches out for the first four miles. Along the way, you’ll pass another memorable site and a rock formation called the Cow Pies. Don’t stop till you attain Carousel Walk. Explore the combination of trails and enjoy exceptional scenery that includes Munds Mountain and Bear Wallow Canyon.

11. Brins Mesa Trail

North of Uptown Sedona, the Brins Mesa Trail is a great addition to your time at Soldier Pass. Many hikers select to combine the 2 into a bigger loop. But the Brins Mesa Trail deserves its spot on our list of Sedona hikes. The mix of juniper forests and red rock faces is mesmerizing, while the relative ease of the walk is fun for the whole family. 

You’ll start at the Jim Thompson Trailhead and head down a well-traveled trail that’s easy to follow. The hike begins relatively flat and takes you to the only vertical meter of the walk. 

You’ll be drawn to great heights quickly, and the ever-improving views will provide plenty of motivation. Soon you will come to a meadow of grass covering the table. 

If the red rock country were not surrounding it, one would think that one’s in the high mountains. Hikers can enjoy the view or climb an adjacent ridge.

12. Airport Mesa Trail

Desert sunsets are the best sunsets. Many of the best hiking in Sedona, Arizona, offers majestic views that become even more spectacular when the sun hits the horizon. 

But if I had to do a hike specifically at sunset, I’ll do it at Airport Mesa Trail. The loop trail begins with a short climb to a saddle, where you start to climb along the edge of the phenomenal mesa.

Along the way, you can see the lower valley of Oak Creek before crossing the basalt. The trail stays flat while traveling mesas and offers stunning views of West Sedona, the famous Red Rock Loop Road, which features most of Sedona’s top attractions.

The Airport Mesa Scenic is one of the best sunset spots in town.  As the fading light punctuates the red rock landscape, It creates a mix of color and shadow. 

13. Mescal Mountain

Mescal Mountain Trail, popular with mountain bikers, winds around the side of the mountain, gives you fantastic views of a bowl-shaped valley below and another memorable sandstone mesa. 

The course is very well-worn and easy to follow. The changing nature of the hike means that the elevation gain is constant. It doesn’t take long to be between the clouds and look down into the broad valley, including Cathedral Rock.

14. The Birthing Cave

The Birth Cave is at the end of a short and sweet hike that ends in one of the best photo spots in Sedona. To get to the famous cave, you have to hike about half a mile along the Long Canyon Trail. 

 You will soon come to a fork where you turn left onto a narrow path leading directly to the towering cliffs.

The cave is tremendously big and gives perspectives of the stunning Sedona Valley at its end.

15. Wilson Canyon Trail

Starting at the famous Midgley Bridge, the Wilson Canyon Trail begins with a bang. The power of this hike is that it packs a few remarkable surroundings right into a short hike.

With so many activities in the area, this is a great way to start or end the day. The Wilson Canyon Trail offers hikers plenty of shade by Sedona standards. If you want to cool off even more, the trail is a short walk from a nearby creek. 

If you have more family hikes to add to the itinerary, you’ll be happy to know that the Wilson Canyon Trail is suitable for all ages.

16. Courthouse Butte

Starting at the famous Midgley Bridge, the Wilson Canyon Trail begins with a bang. The power of this hike is that it packs a few remarkable surroundings right into a short hike.

Keeping Yourself Safe on the Trail

Being in the wilderness can be liberating, but you also have to be safe and intelligent. If you are staying somewhere more off the grid where there aren’t many people nearby or if you’re planning to go for a  hike, you need to make sure you’re taking the proper safety precautions. 

This includes bringing sunscreen and bug spray, locking up your trash at night to keep bears away, paying attention to the weather, and bringing a satellite phone like  Iridium 9575 Extreme or Iridium 9555  in case of emergency.

 

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