Soldier Pass Trail; photo credit: Deborah Lee Soltesz for USFS

The 7 Best Hikes in Sedona

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

When hiking in Sedona, Arizona, you can enjoy splashes of color like you have never seen before! I 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 for the return journey, as you don’t want to get stuck on a trail in the dark.

Many of these trails are multiuse. You will often see people on ATVs, dirt bikes, and mountain bikes. Most of these hikes are easy to moderate because of Sedona’s mostly flat ground, so if you’re looking for more of an adrenaline-filled adventure, I’d suggest a different mode of travel.

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 does cool down a bit, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t always be equipped with the essentials.

The 7 Best Hikes in Sedona

Cathedral Rock Trail

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Cathedral Rock Trail; photo credit: Coconino National Forest, Ariz., via Flickr

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 you can take plenty of breaks on the way up. 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 in Coconino National Forest
Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 744 feet

Devil’s Bridge Trail

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Devil’s Bridge; photo credit: Kat Stan via Flickr

Due to its amazing views, this is one of the most visited hikes in Sedona. The trail has 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 in Coconino National Forest
Distance: 1.8 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Elevation gain: 400 feet

Soldier Pass Trail 

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Soldier Pass Trail; photo credit: Michael Wilson via Flickr

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 recent rain, these pools turn into a cascading waterfall after a storm.

Location: Shadow Rock Drive in Coconino National Forest
Distance: 4.1 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 600 feet

The Birthing Cave 

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Photo credit: Jimmy Conover via Unsplash

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, you will marvel at the valley, soaking in the tranquility of the land.

This trail is located near many of the other popular Sedona trails, and it’s a great second hike of the day to add on to the nearby Soldier Pass Trail. The terrain is fairly flat and wide and likely won’t tire you out. 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 in Coconino National Forest
Distance: 2 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 400 feet

West Fork Trail

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West Fork Trail; photo credit: Coconino National Forest, Ariz., via Flickr

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 — 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 and scenery. You will see incredible red rock formations, verdant plant life, and the beautiful creek. You will actually hike through the creek approximately 12 times, so make sure you come equipped with water-resistant hiking shoes or other appropriate footwear. The water is shallow, and you might even find it refreshing on a hot day.

Location: Oak Creek Canyon in Coconino National Forest
Distance: 6.9 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 800 feet

Fay Canyon Trail

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Fay Canyon View; photo credit: Al Case via Flickr

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

Courthouse Butte Loop Trail 

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Courthouse Butte Loop; photo credit: David Taylor via Flickr

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

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Rhea Jha
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Rhea lives for the adrenaline rush and will likely be down to do anything from hiking to sky diving. She especially enjoys board sports like surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. In her downtime, you can find her enjoying a cheese board, petting her dog, or probably watching Chopped. Rhea is currently pursuing a B.A. in Journalism and History at Penn State University.

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