Hiking In Sedona: The Easy + Hard Trails You Can’t Miss



Where Are Those Morgans at the Sedona vortex site in Boynton Canyon one of the best and most popular hikes in Sedona Arizona on a cloudy day in December

There’s nowhere quite like Sedona when it comes to hiking. We’ve spent years ticking off awesome hikes all across the US, in national parks, state parks, forests, mountains, deserts and canyons. But we think Sedona has something very special. It’s small, classy, easy to visit and most importantly it has a huge network of amazing hiking trails right on its doorstep.

In this guide we show you the easy, moderate and hard hikes you simply can’t miss when you visit Sedona, based entirely on our own experiences.

Our Experience

Mark and Kristen Morgan from Where Are Those Morgans stood together inside the famous Subway Cave in Sedona Arizona
Here we are inside the popular Subway Cave in Boynton Canyon

We spent 8 amazing days hiking in Sedona in December 2021. It quickly became one of our favorite places in the US, not just for hikes, but also for travel photography and outdoor adventure in general.

Our favorite trails in Sedona include Cathedral Rock, Birthing Cave, Subway Cave, Pyramid Loop, Doe Mountain and Little Sugarloaf. But we could quite easily make a case for each of the hiking trails we’ll show you in this guide! Read more about us.

Here’s our summary of the best trails in Sedona for various categories:

  • Easy Hike – Birthing Cave via Long Canyon
  • Moderate Hike – Munds Wagon
  • Hard Hike – Cathedral Rock
  • Sunrise Hike – Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf
  • Sunset Hike – Airport Mesa Sedona View
  • Cave Hike – Subway Cave via Boynton Canyon
  • Hidden Gem Hike – Pyramid Loop
  • Overrated Hike – Devils Bridge

Okay, let’s get right into the hikes we think you should add to your Sedona itinerary. We’re ordering by difficulty from easiest to hardest, and look out for our maps within each hike, so you can see parking and trail options. At the end we’ll show you different ways you can create hiking itineraries for your visit to Sedona. Let’s begin!

1. Airport Mesa Sedona View Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 250 ft
  • Trailheads: Scenic Lookout / Vortex Site
  • Time: 1 hour
Hiker stood on red rocks looking at views over towering red rocks in Arizona
Kristen soaking up the view over Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte from Airport Mesa vortex site at dusk

Sedona View Trail is a hike you shouldn’t miss. It’s a short, easy and inclusive trail connecting Airport Mesa’s lower vortex site and upper scenic viewpoint. The scenic viewpoint is one of Sedona’s most popular sunset spots because it has elevated west facing views and it’s accessible by car. And the lower vortex site has excellent views overlooking Bell Rock and Sedona’s eastern red rock cliffs.

Map of Airport Mesa View Trail in Sedona
The orange line is Sedona View Trail which connects Airport Mesa vortex site to the upper scenic viewpoint

You can park either in a paid parking lot at the top of the hill near the scenic view, or in a small but free parking area near the vortex site at the bottom of the hill. We parked at the top and hiked downhill to the vortex site, enjoying clear views over downtown the whole way. After taking photos from the vortex site, we hiked back up the narrow trail to the scenic viewpoint in time for sunset.

Photo of Sedona at sunset from the popular elevated viewpoint called Airport Mesa
Our sunset view over Sedona from Airport Mesa scenic vista

If you want to make this a harder hike or you arrive way before sunset and need to fill some time, you can include Airport Mesa Loop Trail which would add a further 3 miles and 400 ft elevation gain. We didn’t do the loop, but we probably will the next time we’re in town.

READ: How to hike Airport Mesa View Trail in Sedona

2. West Fork Trail

Photo of a tunnel like rock formation with a river running through and tall cliffs to the side
The Subway tunnel formation at end of West Fork of Oak Creek Trail

West Fork of Oak Creek Trail is an interesting and unique hike in Sedona. It’s quite a long trail, but it’s very flat and we barely broke into a sweat. Most of the hike is through peaceful forested land, but we crossed the shallow Oak Creek around a dozen times. The trail ended when we reach a subway-like tunnel formation which you can see in our photo above. It does continue on an unmaintained trail but leave that to the experienced backcountry hikers.

Map of West Fork of Oak Creek Trail in Sedona AZ
The green dotted line shows the trail you follow until reach the subway tunnel

What makes this trail unique is that it’s located 10 miles drive north of Sedona and there are no other popular hikes nearby. It’s massively inconvenient when compared to the other top trails in town, but it’s also so much quieter than those other trails. We saw very few people on this hike, maybe a total of 5 other hikers in 3 hours. And that’s unheard of in Sedona.

Hiker crossing a creek on stones towards a forest
Here’s Kristen walking across one of the several Oak Creek crossings

Another downside was that we paid a one-off entrance fee of $11 because West Fork Trail is on private land. Our Red Rock Pass and America the Beautiful did not work here. So why hike it if it’s isolated and expensive? Well, it has a 4.8/5 on both Google and AllTrails with thousands of reviews. We didn’t love it because we prefer more adventurous trails, but we think it would be perfect if you’re visiting Sedona with your family or you want to escape the crowds in town.

READ: How to hike West Fork Trail in Sedona

3. Fay Canyon Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 150 ft
  • Trailhead: Fay Canyon Trailhead
  • Time: 1.5 hours
Photo of a cave-like red rock arch formation leading to red rock views
The view we had from behind Fay Canyon Arch

Fay Canyon is a trail you shouldn’t miss if you’re looking for a great easy hike that’s easy to access. It’s sandwiched between Boynton Canyon and Doe Mountain, and there’s more popular hikes nearby so you should definitely include Fay Canyon when you visit this area to the northwest of town. The trailhead has the largest parking lot of all hikes along Boynton Canyon, but there are also alternatives with connecting trails to reach Fay Canyon.

Map of Fay Canyon Trail in Sedona Arizona
Follow the blue line if you’re a beginner hiker or follow the orange and red/green line if you’re experienced

The trail at its most basic is flat, scenic and perfect for beginners. But it also has optional trail variations which includes a steep climb up a bank to reach Fay Canyon Arch, and two end-of-trail rock scramble climbs leading to magnificent canyon views. If you take any of the spur routes, the difficulty of this hike goes from easy to moderate. We think it’s perfect for families or large groups with different hiking abilities to keep everyone entertained.

View of trees and red rocks in a V-shaped valley on a bright day
Our view looking back down Fay Canyon from West Ascent at the end of trail

We climbed up the steep bank to reach Fay Canyon Arch, then continued to the end of trail and climbed up the West Ascent scramble. The bank to reach Fay Canyon is doable for most people in good shape, but the scramble is very narrow with drops so you need to be confident, and you can’t have a fear of heights. We loved the views looking back down the canyon, so we think both spurs are worth doing.

READ: How to hike Fay Canyon Trail in Sedona

4. Soldier Pass Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy (moderate with cave)
  • Distance: 2.4 miles roundtrip (4.2 miles with cave)
  • Elevation Gain: 250 ft (750 ft with cave)
  • Trailhead: Soldier Pass Trailhead
  • Time: 2 hours (3 hours with cave)
Drone photo birds eye view of seven small pools of water next to each other in a red rock landscape
Our drone photo of Seven Sacred Pools on the Soldier Pass Trail

Soldier Pass Trail is one of Sedona’s best but busiest hikes. It features several natural attractions including Devils Kitchen (a giant sinkhole), Seven Sacred Pools (series of small water-filled holes) and Soldier Pass Cave. We love the hike and the cave, but it’s a crowded trail and parking is a real problem. It’s not even worth trying to park at Soldier Pass Trailhead. We recommend either parking at Jim Thompson Trailhead or taking the Sedona Shuttle from Posse Ground park and ride (operates Thur-Sun year round).

Map showing how to hike Sedona Solider Pass Trail with parking and trail options
Study this map so you have an idea about where to park and how you want to hike the trail

If you have enough time on your itinerary, you should consider hiking the full loop around Brins Mesa. We hired a Jeep for 3 days in Sedona, so we had exclusive access to Soldier Pass 4WD road (dark blue line in our photo above) which allowed us to access all parts of the hiking trail easily. We walked to Devils Kitchen, Seven Sacred Pools and the cave before returning to our Jeep and leaving.

Inside a tall and narrow cave with light sources from below allowing the cave to glow orange
We took this photo after climbing inside Soldier Pass Cave

We found the hike to be very easy overall, but the climb up to Soldier Pass Cave increased the difficulty to moderate. Climbing inside the cave was easy enough, but it did require us to use hands and feet. We thought the photogenic cave interior was well worth the extra effort, so don’t miss it when you hike Soldier Pass Trail.

READ: How to hike Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona

5. Birthing Cave via Long Canyon Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 270 ft
  • Trailhead: Long Canyon Trailhead
  • Time: 1.5 hours
Hiker sat in a small round spherical hole at the back of a cave hike in Sedona
Mark sat in the small depression at the back of Birthing Cave

Birthing Cave is one of our favorite cave hikes in Sedona because it’s easy to access, it’s quiet and the cave opening is exceptionally photogenic when looking out from the inside. Parking at Long Canyon Trailhead is limited but it’s usually not too busy, and you can always use Mescal Trailhead as a backup with a connecting trail. We barely saw anyone on the trail and had the cave to ourselves.

Map of the Birthing Cave hike in Sedona Arizona
Follow the green line and make sure you don’t miss the turn onto the red line

After parking at Long Canyon Trailhead, we walked the easy and flat trail, and passed by a golf course before reaching a crossroads. We saw a broken wooden fence on the trail, and it was there that we turned left through an opening in the trees. A narrow beaten path led us to the base of a steep hill and we climbed it to reach Birthing Cave. The climb is steep and loose underfoot, so you should wear robust shoes.

Hiker holding a camera stood at the base of a tall and narrow cave which is framed behind the hiker and has far reaching views over trees and red rocks
Excellent perspective photo with Kristen and the flame shaped Birthing Cave entrance

From outside, the cave doesn’t look like much more than a depression, but once you get inside and climb up the back part into a round hole shaped like half a tennis ball or an ice cream scooper, you can look back out at an amazing view. The cave entrance is shaped like a tear or a flame, right? We used our wide angle lens to capture the cave entrance in one frame with Kristen at the bottom for perspective.

READ: How to hike to the Birthing Cave in Sedona

6. Shaman’s Cave via Robbers Roost Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Distance: 1 mile roundtrip (3 miles w/out 4WD)
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft (450 ft w/out 4WD)
  • Trailhead: Hideout Trailhead (FR 9530 w/out 4WD)
  • Time: 1.5 hours (2.5 hours w/out 4WD)
Hiker sat in a round natural window inside a cave enjoying expansive views in Arizona
Kristen sat in Hideout Cave window enjoying the view over Sedona

Shaman’s Cave, also known as Hideout Cave, was the quietest and most isolated cave hike we did in Sedona. It’s a great cave to visit, and the Robbers Roost Trail hike is really easy. But we only recommend doing this hike if you have access to a high clearance vehicle. We drove our Jeep all the way to within half a mile of the cave and we loved it. But in a normal car, the hike is 3 miles roundtrip and most of it is along a boring and exposed rocky road.

Map of the driving directions from Sedona to Robbers Roost trail and Hideout Cave
Driving directions to Robbers Roost Trail from Sedona

Robbers Roost Trail is located 21 miles northwest of downtown Sedona and it’s all gravel roads after leaving 89A. It’s not easy to visit, which means the trail and cave are usually empty. We had the whole place to ourselves and it was great to escape the crowds for a morning. While we were up in the northwest we drove our Jeep to visit Honanki Heritage Site and Palatki Heritage Site, as well as driving Diamondback Gulch and Outlaw Jeep trails.

Natural cave containing a large oval shaped window and a small round window with a hiker sat inside looking at wide open expansive views
Mark relaxing in the smaller Hideout Cave window looking at the awesome view

On the trail itself we dropped 50 ft into a ravine and immediately climbed 50 ft back out of it, like a V-shape. We accessed Hideout Cave by skirting a narrow ledge with a steep drop, which wasn’t too scary but it definitely got our attention. Inside the cave we enjoyed far reaching views through one large and one small natural window. It’s a hike you should do if you have a high clearance vehicle.

READ: How to hike Robbers Roost Trail in Sedona

7. Devils Bridge Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 450 ft
  • Trailhead: Dry Creek Trailhead
  • Time: 3 hours
Photo of a natural rocky bridge with a wide open valley and distant towering red rocks at sunrise
We hiked to Devils Bridge for sunrise

Devils Bridge is the most hyped up and buzzy hike in Sedona because of its popularity on social media. We decided to try beating the crowds by hiking it in time for sunrise, and we were still around 6 or 7 groups from the front of the line waiting to walk out onto the narrow natural bridge. Dry Creek Trailhead is the best place to park, but you can also park on the roadside nearby or you can park in Mescal Trailhead and connect to Devils Bridge via Chuck Wagon Trail. The Sedona Shuttle also stops at Dry Creek Trailhead.

Map showing parking and trails options for the Devils Bridge hike in Sedona
Study the map above so you can see the various parking and route options to reach Devils Bridge

Devils Bridge Trail itself is very short (red line in our map above). We used our Jeep to park right at Devils Bridge Trailhead (high clearance only), rather than having to deal with parking and hiking from Dry Creek or Mescal. We recommend you park at Mescal because Dry Creek Road isn’t fun to walk on. Once you reach Devils Bridge Trail proper, you’re on a normal hiking path.

Couple holding hands walking out onto a narrow natural bridge formation with far reaching views
Here we are walking out onto Devils Bridge after sunrise

We thought the hike to Devils Bridge was good but not great. Not much happened really, we just climbed a few steep rocks and before long we were at the summit. The bridge and distant mountains view is stunning, but we weren’t huge fans of the theater show at the top. Everyone was friendly and helped each other out with photos but it took ages and the line kept getting longer as the minutes passed by after sunrise. Overall we’re torn on this one. It’s a fun experience but only worth it if you really care about getting the bridge photo.

READ: How to hike Devils Bridge Trail in Sedona

8. Bell Rock And Courthouse Butte Loop Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 800 ft
  • Trailhead: Bell Rock Trailhead
  • Time: 3 hours
Hiker walking out onto a flat red rock viewpoint with wide open views of a valley and rock walls
Kristen half way up the Bell Rock climb with stunning views over Sedona’s red rock landscape

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte are two skyline dominating formations on the southern edges of Sedona. You can just hike straight up Bell Rock, or you can also include a flat, quiet and scenic loop trail around Courthouse Butte. We did both and we think it’s worth it. If you can’t get parked at Bell Rock Trailhead, drive south towards the Village of Oak Creek and park at Bell Rock Pathway instead. You can easily connect to Courthouse Butte loop from there.

Map of the Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Trail hike in Sedona AZ
Study our map so you know where to park and how to hike the various route options

We parked at Bell Rock Trailhead and decided to hike around the Courthouse Butte Loop first (red line above). Once we’d completed the loop, we hiked up Bell Rock which quickly opened up spectacular views. We found a hidden trail which ended up circling around Bell Rock (gold line) and it was our favorite part of the hike. The hidden trail was very much interpretive and there were drop offs, so only hike it if you’re experienced and have robust shoes.

Dirt path leading to a bell shaped rock formation on a clear day
Bell Rock as seen from the Courthouse Butte Loop Trail

We think Courthouse Butte is a fantastic loop trail for families of all ages. And even if you only make it part of the way up Bell Rock, it’s well worth it for the views. Throw in the adventurous hidden loop and this trail becomes unmissable for avid hikers. Bell Rock is also one of the main vortex sites in Sedona, so it’s usually pretty busy.

READ: How to hike Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Loop Trail in Sedona

9. Boynton Canyon Trail To Subway Cave

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft
  • Trailhead: Boynton Canyon Trailhead
  • Time: 3 hours
Hiker walking on a narrow ledge inside a tunnel like cave that looks like it's been sliced in half
Kristen walking on a narrow ledge inside Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon

Subway Cave is the most popular cave hike in Sedona. It’s located around two-thirds into Boynton Canyon Trail, which also features a vortex site, another lesser known cave called Kachina Cave and an elevated end-of-trail viewpoint. Most of the hike is easy until it gets steep near the end, and if you take either cave trail you’ll climb steep banks.

Map showing how to hike Boynton Canyon to the Subway Cave in Arizona
To reach Subway Cave you must turn off Boynton Canyon Trail at the huge charred tree

We started with Subway Cave, then went to the end-of-trail viewpoint and finished with the vortex site. So we missed Kachina Cave because we didn’t know about it at the time. Subway Cave is by far the more popular anyway, and to reach it you’ll turn right once you see an unusually large burnt tree on the left side of Boynton Canyon Trail. From there it’s an obvious route until you climb up and skirt around the outside of the cave before hopping inside.

Photo of the view from Subway Cave hike in Sedona over red rocks and trees on a sunny day with clouds
Our astounding view from the Subway Cave

The climb inside Subway Cave isn’t the worst, but you need to be careful and wear robust shoes for gripping the rocks. We had the cave to ourselves because we visited in December when it’s quieter in Sedona. But we’ve read hiker reviews and they mostly say the cave is packed, so it might be worth visiting very early or much later in the day to avoid crowds.

READ: How to hike to the Subway Cave in Sedona

10. Doe Mountain Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 400 ft
  • Trailhead: Doe Mountain Trailhead
  • Time: 2 hours
Hot air balloon taking flight from a flat valley and above red rocks at sunrise
We watched hot air balloons taking off at sunrise from the summit of Doe Mountain

Doe Mountain Trail was one of our favorite sunrise hikes in Sedona. The trail is very short but it’s steep enough to make it a bit of a lung buster, so we’d say it’s moderately difficult overall. You’ll climb 400 ft in less than a mile, mostly on switchbacks. At the top you’ll find a huge flat mesa and at the far side of the mesa you’ll be rewarded with sensational views.

Map of the Doe Mountain hike in Sedona showing direction of sunrise and hot air balloons
You can see in this map how easy it is to park, climb and enjoy the views at Doe Mountain

We parked at the trailhead in the dark, climbed for around 30 minutes with headlamps and made it to the viewpoint as hot air balloons were taking flight and the sun began to rise. It was a wonderful experience and we highly recommend you do the same. If you can’t make it for sunrise, we still think Doe Mountain is well worth the short hike so don’t miss it.

Hiker in winter clothes standing on red rocks watching a sunrise and hot air balloon take off from a flat valley below at sunrise in Sedona
Kristen watching hot air balloons take off and warming up in the December sun at dawn

We took coffee and breakfast up with us, sat huddled together in our winter coats and waited for the sun to warm us up. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that we had the summit to ourselves for the sunrise, but we think it would be busier during warmer months.

READ: How to hike to Keyhole Cave in Sedona

11. Chimney Rock And Little Sugarloaf Loop Trail

Hiker sat on a rock at the summit of a hike in Sedona watching a stunning sunrise
Kristen watching a spectacular sunrise from Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf Trail is another Sedona sunrise hike you can’t miss. We actually did this one on our last morning, and we think it’s definitely a strong contender for the best hidden gem hike in Sedona. It’s close to town so it’s convenient, it’s a short loop trail with two parking options (Thunder Mountain or Andante), and the views from both summits are amazing.

Map showing how to hike Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf Trail in Sedona
Follow the numbers in our map above if you hike this trail for sunrise

We’d seen Chimney Rock from other hikes, so we decided to hike it for sunrise. The climb was short but near the top it got steep and loose underfoot, so you must take care. We watched a stunning sunrise erupt from behind Airport Mesa and Sedona’s eastern red rock walls, before heading down to Little Sugarloaf, which actually turned out to be a better viewpoint. Again, this loop is still well worth hiking even if you can’t make it for sunrise.

Photo from behind a hiker stood on a rocky summit overlooking far reaching views on a trail in Sedona
Mark looking at Chimney Rock from the open summit of Little Sugarloaf

Little Sugarloaf is easier to access, it’s flat at the top and it has unobstructed 360 degree views. The best part is that very few know it exists so it’s much quieter than most other trails in Sedona. We didn’t see a single other person at either summit and we stayed up there until around one hour after sunrise. Do not miss these summits if you enjoy sunrise photography.

READ: How to hike Chimney Rock Little Sugarloaf Loop Trail in Sedona

12. Pyramid And Scorpion Loop Trail

Hiker stood on a small mound looking at expansive views over a red rock landscape in Arizona
Kristen hiking a section on the Pyramid Scorpion Loop Trail

Pyramid and Scorpion Loop Trail is another hidden gem hike we found in Sedona that you definitely shouldn’t miss. Park at Pyramid Mountain Trailhead on Red Rock Loop Road and hike anti-clockwise, starting with Pyramid Trail and looping left onto Pyramid Trail before returning to the trailhead.

Map of the Pyramid and Scorpion Loop hiking trail in Sedona Arizona
Our map shows you the parking locations and trail routes for Pyramid and Scorpion Trails

You could also include the whole Scorpion Trail by using Schuerman Mountain Trailhead, but then you’d also have an out and back section to hike with more elevation. We stuck to the shorter loop and we didn’t see a single hiker the whole time. But we did see a mountain biker, so be aware that it’s a shared trail.

Hiker on a narrow trail with views over famous rock formations in the distance
Some of the best views over Cathedral Rock can be found on Scorpion and Pyramid Trail

We enjoyed the tranquility on this trail, and the front-on views of Cathedral Rock were some of the best we saw in Sedona. It’s not going to blow your socks off with adventure, but it’s a very calming and scenic hike to add to your itinerary. Sunset might be the best time of day to hike it so you can see Cathedral Rock glowing red under soft light.

READ: How to hike Pyramid Scorpion Loop Trail in Sedona

13. Munds Wagon Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
  • Trailhead: Munds Wagon Trailhead
  • Time: 5 hours
Person hiking in Sedona on a flat red rock expanse with small pools of water and tall formations ahead
Kristen hiking out around the flat expanse of Cow Pies on Munds Wagon Trail

Munds Wagon Trail is one of the better moderately difficult hikes you can do in Sedona to get away from the crowds. It starts at the bottom of Schnebly Hill Road in a small dirt parking lot and climbs up way beyond Merry Go Round. But to make the most of this hike, we recommend you include Hangover Loop and stop at Merry Go Round before returning downhill to the trailhead. Hikes on the east side of Sedona are typically much quieter, and Munds Wagon is great if you want a longer stretch out.

Photo of red rocks and valleys with a tree and the sun on a hike in Sedona AZ
Our view from Merry Go Round near sunset

After 1.7 miles on Munds Wagon you’ll join Hangover Loop Trail which you should hike anti-clockwise so you spend more time with Sedona facing views. We drove our Jeep up the hill, stopped to hike Hangover Loop and went all the way to Schnebly Hill vista overlook. In truth, Merry Go Round was our favorite part because the view was fantastic. This hike is worth considering if you want something a bit different.

14. Cathedral Rock Trail

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 1.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 700 ft
  • Trailhead: Cathedral Rock Trailhead
  • Time: 2.5 hours
Photo of a sunrise bursting out from behind a tall rock formation in the distance in between two rock towers in the immediate foreground
We watched this sun rise behind Courthouse Butte from the summit of Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock is the most iconic hike in Sedona. It’s like the sun to our solar system, everything in Sedona revolves around it. It’s an awesome trail (we think it’s one of the best hikes in the US) but it’s also extremely busy. Parking at Cathedral Rock Trailhead is near impossible during the day and around sunset. So you may have to park at Yavapai Vista, Bell Rock, Red Rock Crossing or Baldwin instead.

Map of parking options for hiking Cathedral Rock in Sedona
Our map shows the 5 parking areas and trails typically used for hiking Cathedral Rock

We decided to hike Cathedral Rock for sunrise to beat the crowds and it really did live up to the hype. Parking at the main trailhead was all but empty and we managed to summit in time to watch a might sunrise erupt from behind Courthouse Butte in the distance. Now, the trail was very steep and slick, with some small scrambling elements involved. So you need to be confident and wear strong shoes with grips.

Hiker walking on a red rock trail with tall rock spires behind
Kristen hiking back down from the summit of Cathedral Rock after sunrise

Once we summited and caught our breath, we turned left and followed a narrow trail hugging a rock spire to reveal another steep climb between the spires. At the top we sat and watched the sunrise completely alone. Cathedral Rock is the hike you should prioritize, so if you’re short on time in Sedona, get organized and find somewhere to park early in the morning.

READ: How to hike Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona

15. Keyhole Cave Trail

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 2.3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Trailhead: Teacup Trailhead
  • Time: 3 hours
Photo of a hiker sat on the edge of a ledge looking out of a giant cave entrance to the valley below
Mark sat on a ledge of the enormous Keyhole Cave entrance opening

Keyhole Cave is the largest and most difficult cave hike in Sedona. It starts out on Teacup Trail, but you then have to forge your own path through rough desert vegetation for most of the hike and the cave climb is challenging. If you’re an experienced hiker and you want to get off the beaten path in Sedona, you shouldn’t miss this adventurous trail.

Map showing directions for the Keyhole Cave hike in Sedona
Our map shows you the Keyhole Cave hike with trailheads and cave location

Despite having no official trail, Keyhole Cave appears on hiking apps like AllTrails and Gaia GPS, and it’s all in public land. After parking at Teacup Trailhead (also known as Sugar Loaf Trailhead), we took Teacup Trail until reaching the intersection with Thunder Mountain Trail. The path goes left to right, but we walked straight behind the sign and used the distant rock walls ahead as our destination.

Very large oval cave opening leading out to a far reaching view over a valley with red rocks
Looking out over Sedona from the right side of Keyhole Cave

We had to chop and change our paths and routes on both legs of the hike, but apart from getting sharp bush scratches every now and then, the hike was great. We didn’t pass anybody else but there was another couple already inside the cave when we arrived. After climbing inside, we were blown away by the size of the cave and its entrance, as well as the views overlooking Sedona.

READ: How to hike to Keyhole Cave in Sedona

Trails To Hike With More Time

We could list at least another twenty hikes here because Sedona has so many awesome trails. But if you have a bit more time available, you want to get off the beaten path, or you want more challenging trails, here are the next 5 hikes we would prioritize:

  • Bear Mountain
  • Capitol Butte to Thunder Mountain
  • Wilson Mountain
  • Vultee Arch
  • Little Horse to Chicken Point

These hikes are harder to reach or harder in difficulty, so they’re not ones to include on a first visit. We’ll probably start with these the next time we’re in Sedona because we’ve already done the 15 trails covered in this guide.

Sedona Hiking Trails Map

Click or touch the map below to activate. Zoom in and out, move around the map and see the locations for Sedona’s unmissable hiking trails.

Map key:

  • Blue – Quiet or hidden gem hikes
  • Orange – Moderately busy trails
  • Red – Busiest hikes

Key Things To Know

Small gravel parking lot with cars parked and a brown sign showing rules for parking
The tiny parking lot at Soldier Pass Cave is notoriously overcrowded

Difficulty: Lots of the hikes in this guide are listed as moderate or hard. But in reality, we’d say everything up to Pyramid Scorpion Loop in our guide will be fine for most hikers. Remember, you don’t have to take the optional spur trails which increase difficulty.

Passes and fees: You must display either a Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass at these trailheads in Sedona. Some parking lots have ticket machines to buy 1 day or 7 day Red Rock Passes, but we recommend buying online ahead of your visit to save time.

Trailheads: Parking at hiking trailheads was the biggest problem we faced in Sedona. We strongly recommend you get an early start each morning during your trip. A great tip we have for you is to pick the hikes you want to do the most, hike one the first morning, then hike another the second morning etc.

Busiest lots: Devils Bridge Trail (Dry Creek Trailhead), Cathedral Rock Trail (Back O Beyond Rd), Bell Rock Trail (Bell Rock Trailhead), Boynton Canyon Trail (Boynton Canyon Trailhead) and Soldier Pass Trail (Soldier Pass Trailhead) were the busiest parking lots we saw. Remember you can use alternative parking lots and connecting trails to access these hikes.

Shuttle: It’s easier to use the Sedona Shuttle than mess around with parking at the most popular hikes. Posse Grounds park and ride goes to Soldier Pass Trailhead, Dry Creek Trailhead and Mescal Trailhead. Whereas North SR-179 park and ride goes to Cathedral Rock.

READ: Inspirational hiking quotes

Sedona Hiking Itinerary

Now you know the best hikes in Sedona, let’s go through some examples of how you can group them together from 1-3 days.

Easy One Day Itinerary

  • Start with sunrise at Doe Mountain
  • Next hike Fay Canyon (optional arch and end ascent)
  • Park at Long Canyon and hike to Birthing Cave
  • Hike either Devils Bridge or Soldier Pass Trail (may have to use Sedona shuttle)
  • Walk around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte (optional climb up Bell Rock)
  • Finish with a walk along Airport Mesa Sedona View Trail at sunset

Challenging One Day Itinerary

  • Start with sunrise at Cathedral Rock
  • Next hike Devils Bridge
  • Head over to Boynton Canyon and hike to Subway Cave
  • Park at Teacup Trailhead and hike to Keyhole Cave

Two Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Doe Mountain, Fay Canyon, Boynton Canyon, Birthing Cave, Devils Bridge and Soldier Pass
  • Day 2 – Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock Courthouse Butte, Munds Wagon and Sedona View

Three Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Doe Mountain, Fay Canyon, Boynton Canyon, Birthing Cave and Devils Bridge
  • Day 2 – Chimney Rock Little Sugarloaf, Keyhole Cave, Soldier Pass and Pyramid Scorpion
  • Day 3 – Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock Courthouse Butte, Munds Wagon and Sedona View

Hiking tip: Pick a parking lot with a connector trail, get there early and hike several trails before moving your car again. For instance you park at Doe Mountain, hike Doe Mountain, hike Aerie to Fay Canyon, hike Aerie to Boynton Canyon and then return to Doe Mountain via Aerie. You only park once but you hike 3 trails using Aerie as the connector.

The Morgan Conclusion

Hiker walking on a narrow ledge inside a tunnel like cave with light pouring in from below
Here’s Kristen enjoying the awesome Soldier Pass Cave

What we like about hiking in Sedona: We loved how easy it was to hike in Sedona. Almost all of the trails are within 10 miles of town and lots of the popular hikes are clustered together. It almost had a theme park feel to it but instead of going from ride to ride, we’d go from hike to hike. It’s also a very inclusive place to hike, with lots of easy, moderate and hard trails making it perfect for all ages and abilities. Finally, the hikes are diverse, fun, adventurous and photogenic. Overall, Sedona really is a fantastic place to enjoy the great outdoors.

What we don’t like about hiking in Sedona: Parking at trailheads in Sedona was painful. We hated how chaotic the parking lots were, everyone was fighting for spaces and people were overly aggressive. The trails were sometimes busy, but we mostly avoided peak times by doing lots of sunrise hikes and then getting off the beaten path between 10:00am-3:00pm. If you hike in peak seasons during the day, you’ll find the trails to be overcrowded. But other than being busy, we have absolutely no complaints about the hikes.

More From Sedona

Want more Arizona content? Head over to our Arizona travel guides to explore the best of Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond.

We hope our hiking guide helps with planning your visit to Sedona!

Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Happy Hiking,

Mark and Kristen

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4 thoughts on “Hiking In Sedona: The Easy + Hard Trails You Can’t Miss”

  1. My family of 4 (incl two teenagers) is headed to Arizona. We will have a couple days at GC South Rim and a day in Sedona, among other things we are doing in Page and Scottsdale. I’ve read your VERY helpful articles about hiking in these two locations. We will be “easy” day hikers just there to see the views and take in the beauty. I’m wondering what kind of packing we should do? Do we just bring a daypack with sunscreen, hats, etc.? How much water? That seems very heavy. Do most people use refillable water bottles, camelbacks, disposable water bottles? I’m at a loss on what and how much we need to bring for easy day hikes…Thank you for your advice!

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for getting in touch and we’re happy to hear you have a family trip planned to Arizona. Yes, take sunglasses, hats and sunscreen, as well as plenty of water per person either in refillable bottles or camelbacks. Not sure exactly when you are headed to Grand Canyon and Sedona but in summer months when it can be dangerously hot you should definitely carry more water in both places. You certainly won’t need to carry as much water as you would if heading down into the canyon, so just take enough to be comfortable. You can buy or refill water at several places along South Rim, including both “ends” of the rim at Hermits Rest or Desert View Watchtower. Almost all hikes in Sedona are within 10-20 minutes drive of town, which means you can dip back in and out anytime you need a refill, but you should carry plenty water between your family when hiking out in the red rocks, just in case of any emergency. Hope that helps and have a fantastic trip!


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