Soldier Pass Trail; (photo/Deborah Lee Soltesz for USFS)

The 8 Best Hikes in Sedona

With its stunning red rock formations, Sedona, Arizona, is a beautiful place to visit for spectacular landscape views. Here are a few of the most popular Sedona hikes.

When hiking in Sedona, you can enjoy splashes of color as you have never seen before. We recommend planning at least one sunrise and one sunset hike — Sedona is known for the beautiful colors on the horizon at these hours.

If you’re choosing a sunset hike, be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for the return journey, as you don’t want to get stuck on a trail in the dark.

Most of these hikes are easy to moderate because of Sedona’s flatter ground. So, if you’re looking for more of an adrenaline-filled adventure, I’d suggest a different mode of travel.

In Sedona, you will often see people on ATVs, dirt bikes, and mountain bikes. Which is why many of the trails we’ve picked are multiuse.

Remember that Sedona is in the desert. If you’re hiking these trails during the summer months, bring your hot-and-sunny, no-shade necessities — sunscreen, sun protection, and lots of water. During the winter months, the temperature cools down a bit, but you should still carry the essentials.

The 8 Best Hikes in Sedona

Cathedral Rock Trail

(Photo/Coconino National Forest, Ariz.)

Cathedral Rock is one of the most popular trails in Sedona. Many reviews of this trail say hiking at sunset is a great time to see the different colors of the Sedona landscape. This trail has a few challenging sections where you might need to use your hands, but handholds and footholds are there for your convenience.

The hike up to Cathedral Rock is a bit steep in places, but there are some good perches for breaks on the way up. And, you’ll find some great places for photo ops. Look for mini side trails for views of Platform Rock and the Edge of the World once you reach the top.

On the horizon, you can spot several famous red rock formations like Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. There is a small fee to park at the trailhead.

  • Location: Back O’ Beyond Road, Coconino National Forest
  • Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 744 feet
  • Highlights: Expansive desert views and a satisfying summit

Devil’s Bridge Trail

Devil’s Bridge; (photo/Kat Stan)

Due to its amazing views, this is one of the most visited hikes in Sedona. The trail receives a lot of foot traffic, so go early if you want to avoid the crowds.

Again, reviewers recommend a sunrise or sunset hike for this one anyway. The Devil’s Bridge Trail highlights one of the largest natural sandstone arches in the area — the 50-foot-high Devil’s Arch.

The hike is fairly easygoing except for a steep climb toward the end. Note that to reach the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead, you will need a high-clearance vehicle, as the unpaved portion of Dry Creek Road is rough.

Alternatively, you can park at the Dry Creek Trailhead and hike the Mescal Trail to the Chuckwagon Trail to reach the Devil’s Bridge Trail for a 4-mile round-trip hike.

  • Location: Dry Creek Road, Coconino National Forest
  • Distance: 1.8 miles round trip or 4 miles round trip from the Mescal Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Highlights: Up-close experience of a geologic wonder

Soldier Pass Trail 

Soldier Pass Trail; (photo/Michael Wilson)

This hike is sure to keep you entertained, as there’s plenty to see the entire way. The Soldier Pass Trail features sinkholes, pools, caves and, of course, amazing views. Within the first mile of the hike, you’ll pass by the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole and Seven Sacred Pools.

The Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole was created by the collapse of an underground cave, and it’s growing slightly deeper every day. The Seven Sacred Pools is an important religious site for local Indigenous populations, so be respectful when you pass.

If you’re lucky enough to pass by after a recent rain, these pools turn into a cascading waterfall after a storm.

  • Location: Shadow Rock Drive, Coconino National Forest
  • Distance: 4.1 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 600 feet
  • Highlights: Glimpse into the subterranean world through an actively growing sinkhole

The Birthing Cave 

(Photo/Jimmy Conover)

One of Sedona’s hidden gems, this quick and easy trail is a must-see. And the cave at the end of the trail, along with its views, is truly breathtaking. While you’re inside this large cave, marvel at the valley and soak in the tranquility of the land.

This trail is located near a few other favorite Sedona trails, and it’s a great second hike to add on to the nearby Soldier Pass Trail. The terrain is fairly flat and wide and likely won’t tire you out (though it is rocky in some places). You will start the hike on the Long Canyon Trail before splitting left onto the trail to the cave after about a mile of hiking.

  • Location: Long Canyon Trailhead, Coconino National Forest
  • Distance: 2 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Highlights: View the rugged desert through the natural frame of a massive sandstone cave

West Fork Trail

coconino national forest
West Fork Trail; (photo/Coconino National Forest)

If you’re looking for a calm, scenic trail, the West Fork Trail is definitely the way to go. Along the trail, you can enjoy shade and water — two rarities in the desert of Sedona. Located in Oak Creek Canyon, this serene hike captures the beauty of Sedona in a single hike.

The West Fork Trail is quite unique compared to other trails in Sedona because of the variety of terrain. You will see incredible red rock formations and verdant plant life. And, of course, you’ll follow a beautiful creek.

You will cross the creek approximately 12 times, so make sure you come equipped with water-resistant hiking shoes or sandals. The water is shallow, and refreshing on hot days.

  • Location: Oak Creek Canyon in Coconino National Forest
  • Distance: 6.9 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Highlights: Experience the cool and refreshing riparian ecosystem as a welcome contrast to the desert’s dry heat

Fay Canyon Trail

Fay Canyon View; (photo/Al Case)

Considered one of the best short hikes in Sedona, the Fay Canyon Trail has some outstanding views. Some reviewers even go as far as to say it’s the “most beautiful view in all of Sedona.” Fay Canyon Trail takes you right into the center of Sedona’s iconic red rock formations.

This trail offers a lot of shade, especially during the summer months. It ends at a tall rock formation, but if you hike just beyond this mark (about 0.25 miles), you will come across this “most beautiful view,” where you might even spot Bell Rock in the distance on a clear day. Be careful when going past the end of the maintained trail.

  • Location: Fay Canyon Trailhead in Coconino National Forest
  • Distance: 2.4 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 190 feet
  • Highlights: Panoramic vistas that showcase the grand scale of the surrounding red rock desert

Courthouse Butte Loop Trail 

Courthouse Butte Loop; (photo/David Taylor)

This hike highlights two red rock formations. Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte are well-known Sedona landmarks and are also the namesakes of the two trails you can choose to hike. The Bell Rock Trail is usually packed with tourists, so if you’re looking for a calmer outing, opt for the Courthouse Butte Trail.

Along this hike, you will enjoy beautiful red rock scenery. Halfway through, you’ll spot a dome-shaped rock called Spaceship Rock, which is a great place to take a break, eat a snack, and enjoy the views.

  • Location: Courthouse Vista in Coconino National Forest
  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 300-350 feet
  • Highlights: The feeling of soft red desert sand underfoot, towering stone skyscrapers

Black Canyon Trail

Black Canyon Trail
Black Canyon Trail; (photo/Avi Waxman)

As the longest hike on our list, the Black Canyon Trail offers a strenuous outing capped by rewarding views of the San Francisco Peaks. As a bonus, this trail tends to attract fewer people than some of the shorter and more popular hikes in the area.

The Black Canyon Trail is accessed after driving down about 4 miles of a well-maintained dirt road. It is wise to plan ahead and use the bathroom and fill up water ahead of time, as there are no services in the immediate area.

Though the majestic and scraggly landscape around Sedona is enjoyable all year round, we recommend hiking this trail in the springtime for optimal cool weather, peak wildflower viewing, and maximum waterfall activity.

Overall, this trail gains about 2,000 feet in elevation and requires sustained uphill walking to reach the top. However, it’s an out-and-back hike, so you can tackle as many miles as you’d like.

  • Location: Off of Ogden Ranch Road, just south of Sedona
  • Distance: 8.3 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation gain: 2,000 feet
  • Highlights: Expansive views

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Austin Beck-Doss

Austin Beck-Doss has been writing about climbing, hiking, and snow sports for 5 years. Prior to that, Austin worked as a rock climbing guide for an adaptive recreation organization. Now based in Wyoming, Austin enjoys hiking through the limestone hills, recording observations as drawings, and looking for new (old) rocks to climb.