Here Are The Hikes You Need To Do While Visiting Sedona, Arizona
So your headed out to the desert! Well lucky for you, there is a town by the name of Sedona that is becoming a huge hub in Arizona for outdoorsy-hiking-people like yourself. Think the ‘Bend, Oregon’ or ‘Moab, Utah’ for Arizona. It’s beautiful scenery is sure to impress and provide something for just about anyone. Whether you are going on trail to center yourself at one of Sedona’s Vortexes, photograph the red-colored rock features, or just be in nature- here are the best hikes that you should do during your visit to Sedona, Arizona.
What To Bring When Hiking Trails In Sedona
↟ Lots of water, and probably a bit more. Sedona can reach high temperatures as soon as the sun comes over the horizon. Make sure you bring water and are drinking consistently so you don’t ruin the views with a dehydration-induced headache.
↟ Make sure you pack amble sun protection. Hats, sunscreen and sunglasses are seen on just about everyone for good reason.
↟ Sturdy hiking shoes or hiking sandals will come in handy. I personally chose to hike in Chaco’s or Teva’s for a number of trails but there were a few I opted for my Altra Lone Peaks and was glad I did. Some trails, like Bell Rock, might require a bit of rock scrambling and shoes with good traction was a blessing.
↟ If you are trying to get to a specific location on the trails, like a cave or rock feature, I highly recommend some sort of GPS or live map. I used AllTrails and it saved us a whole lot of time because we easily would have gotten lost. As always, bring emergency items like a phone and first aid.
For details on these hikes in Sedona Arizona, click on the link in the trail title for AllTrails information.
It is extremely important that visitors take care of these areas to preserve and protect them. This includes packing out YOUR trash. It makes a huge difference to also pick up (not pass) trash if you see any on trail. Get on that good Sedona-karma!
If you need to go to the bathroom, make sure that you dig a hole at least 6 inches into the ground and bring your toilet paper back with you to dispose of.
Compostable items like food and toilet paper attract animals and also do not decompose quick enough- especially in dry, desert conditions. Pack it out, and leave no trace.
The Best Hikes in Sedona, Arizona
1- Devil’s Bridge
4.2 miles | Out and Back
564 Elevation Gain
Chances are, you’ve seen pictures of this hike before. While being an easy walk for a large portion of the trail, the last half mile ascends upwards for great views of the Sedona Valley behind an impressive rock bridge. Currently, visitors are still allowed to walk across the bridge- but use caution!
Trail Start Time: When I say that you need to do this hike at sunrise, I mean you NEED too. Even on weekdays, the parking lot near the trailhead for this hike frequently fills up by 8am. We decided to break out the headlamps for a 6am start and shared the views at the end with around 10 people.
This is easily one of the most popular hikes in Sedona. If you do this hike for sunset, or during the day, it will be very busy. There will likely be a long line for “photo-ops” on the bridge when you arrive. People are normally very courteous and wait to the right of the bridge for their turn but make sure to use caution near the edge if you are taking photos.
2- Soldier’s Pass Trail
4.7mi | Loop
830 Elevation Gain
This popular trail passes through a few notable locations like the Seven Sacred Pools and Secret Cave. If you are looking for a shorter trail, there are options to access the Pools or Secret Cave from other trailheads to make the trip a bit shorter. The Soldier’s Pass Trail passes through a large area of the trail system, making it pretty easy to Choose Your Own Trail Adventure.
3- Boynton Canyon Trail
6.1mi Out and Back (less if you are going just to the caves)
810 Elevation Gain
The Boynton Canyon Trail treks out to one of Sedona’s few Vortex locations. These Vortex’s are said to be a concentrated area of negative ions that can help its visitors feel inspired and relaxed. They are great places for meditation, healing and are alive with energy.
Trail Recommendations: I would recommend doing this hike in mid-morning, being cautious of temperatures as a large portion of the trail is relatively exposed. We passed a decent number of people on the trail, and you should expect a lot of people looking lost trying to find their way to the Subway Caves.
4- The Birthing Cave
2mi | Out and Back
291 Elevation Gain
The Birthing Cave is a magnificent cavern at the end of a relatively easy walk. The snaking trails in this area are easy to get confused with river beds and mountain biking trails, so I recommend following coordinates on AllTrails or another GPS app.
The surprising thing about this cave was how hugely impressive it was. It is hard to tell from photographs, but the cave walls are fairly hard to climb without good footwear and are steep. I had a wide angle lens with me for photographs and still had to stitch two photos together for a wide enough shot.
Trail Recommendations: This short but sweet hike is great at any time of the day. It’s a bit hard photographing inside the cave because it is dark but might not be as busy as some of the other hikes in the area.
5- Cathedral Rock
1.2mi | Out and Back
652 Elevation Gain
The parking lot to this trail tends to fill quickly, just like Devil’s Bridge so leave yourself ample time- especially if going for sunset! It will be a steep walk but the ending of the trail has wonderful views of the Sedona valley.
Trail Recommendations: As could be said with all of the best hikes, the early bird gets the worm (or, shot?). Try to get to this parking lot before sunrise to ensure your chances of getting to do the hike during an optimal time of the day for photography, and beat the crowds if you can!
6- Bell Rock
1.1 | Out and Back
This short but incredible hike goes to yet another one of Sedona’s energy Vortexes. If continuing towards the top of Bell Rock, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the adjacent rock structure, Courthouse Butte and the winding roads towards the town of Sedona.
Trail Recommendations: We did this hike/walk twice for sunset and it didn’t disappoint either night! The droves of cars leaving the city after sunset made for awesome light trails, and the light fading off the valley was gorgeous to watch. It can be a bit hard to stay on trail, and if you’re looking to make it to the top- you’ll need to do some rock scrambling.
Post-Trail Pit Stop: Red Rock Crossing (via Baldwin)
Though it isn’t long enough that I would call it a hike (only .2mi), this short walk has a great view of Cathedral Rock and is very close to parking. The area is sure to be buzzing with photographers at sunrise or sunset trying to get a good shot of the river in the foreground.
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Where are you going to hit on your next adventure to Sedona, Arizona? I cant wait to go back to explore more of what this area of Arizona has to offer. Off-roading and Hot Air Balloons, perhaps? Let me know what your favorite activities or if I missed any of the best hikes in Sedona are in the comments!