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20 Best Hikes In Sedona, Arizona (2022 Hiking Guide)

20 Best Hikes In Sedona, Arizona (2022 Hiking Guide)

Are you looking for a comprehensive guide to the very best hikes in Sedona, Arizona? We’re going to walk you through a list of the 20 top rated easy, moderate and hard hikes around Sedona based entirely on our own personal experiences, to help you plan the perfect hiking itinerary for your visit.

Do the hikes in Sedona live up to expectation?

Sedona’s surroundings could easily be a US national park. The network of fantastic hiking trails for all levels of ability is nothing short of remarkable and we’re sure Sedona will surpass even the highest of expectations.

In this guide we cover:

  • The best easy, moderate and hard hikes in Sedona
  • Parking tips, shuttle, passes and fees
  • 1-3 day Sedona hiking itinerary examples
  • Maps of the most popular hikes in Sedona
  • Our own photos from the trails

Let’s start creating your shortlist of amazing hikes in Sedona, Arizona!

*Please note this post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! Read more in our disclosure policy.*

What Is The Best Hike In Sedona?

One of our favorite aspects of hiking in Sedona is the diversity of excellent trails. If you asked 1000 people the best hike in Sedona, there would be a spread of answers with no obvious and clear winner.

Compare that to the best hikes at Grand Canyon or the best hikes at Zion and you will get the same answers almost every time.

Here’s what we personally think the best hikes are in Sedona for various categories:

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

Sedona’s Coconino National Forest and Munds Mountain Wilderness is like a sprawling adventure playground for hikers of all abilities. Every nook and cranny of the picturesque red rock landscape is just waiting to be explored.

So what is the best hike in Sedona, Arizona?

Well, the truth is we genuinely can’t pick out a single winner from 20 standout contenders.

You’ll have let us know your favorite hike in Sedona after you’ve experienced the addictive red rock landscape for yourself.

What we can tell you for certain is that hiking will lead you to almost all of the best sunrise and sunset photography locations in and around Sedona, so don’t forget to pack your camera before setting off on the trails!

Our Sedona Hiking Experience

Where Are Those Morgans inside Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon in Sedona Arizona very popular hike for photographers
Mark and Kristen inside Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon – one of the most popular hikes in Sedona

In December 2021, we spent one of the most memorable 8 day periods of our world travels to date, non-stop hiking around the exceptionally striking red rock landscape of Sedona from dawn ’til dusk.

Our Sedona highlights included 4 sunrise hikes, 6 cave hikes and finding a handful of wonderful hidden gem trails away from the crowds.

We’re going to share all of our favorite hikes and top tips with you in this guide to help you create the perfect Sedona itinerary and really make the most of your visit to this remarkable area of northern Arizona.

Stay tuned until the end as we will offer up a handful of example hiking itineraries for 1, 2 and 3 days to give you an idea of how you can string some of the trails together.

Read: If you’re interested in reading about the cave trails in more detail, here’s our popular guide on how to find and explore the best caves in Sedona, Arizona.

Are There Any Easy Hikes For Beginners In Sedona?

Most of the classic and iconic best hikes in Sedona are rated either as moderate or hard in difficulty. But there are a handful of wonderful easy hikes for beginners to enjoy around Sedona. And we have a very important tip to share.

Tip – Our first major tip for you to consider when creating your personalized list of trails to hike in Sedona is that many of the hikes rated as moderate are actually very easy but have harder optional elements.

For example, Soldier Pass Trail is flat and very easy, but is rated moderate because there is an optional steep climb into Soldier Pass Cave you can either choose to include or not include.

Hikers looking for easier trails can enjoy Soldier Pass Trail without taking on the steep optional climb into the cave.

Similar spur trails transform certain hikes from easy to moderate, and we will make note of this next to each hike listed below.

Parking At Trailheads

Parking lot at Soldier Pass Trail
The tiny parking lot at Soldier Pass Cave is notoriously overcrowded

Parking at hiking trailheads in Sedona is a real challenge and will ultimately be the biggest challenge you face during your visit. Many of the most popular hikes have very limited parking areas and will fill no matter the time of year you visit.

We hiked almost all of the trails in this list during our visit to Sedona in December and we had problems getting parked on several occasions, despite December being a supposed low season.

Tip – You will give yourself the best chance of getting a parking space if you arrive to a trailhead right around sunrise. A crucial Sedona hiking tip is to prioritize your ‘unmissable’ hikes and use each dawn on your trip to guarantee getting parked at one hike per morning.

If you’re here to hike as many trails as possible, we suggest you look at either Uptown or West Sedona when choosing between the best places to stay in Sedona.

Busiest Parking Lots

Hiking is definitely one of the best things to do in Sedona and almost all visitors will hike at least one trail. However, most people will hike several trails and that means certain parking lots fill every day.

Some of Sedona’s hikes are more popular than others due to iconic formations, vortex sites or simply because of social media.

Here’s a heads up on which trails will inevitably be busiest (parking lots included):

  • 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)
  • Soldier Pass Trail (Soldier Pass Trailhead)

Tip – One of the saving graces when it comes to parking for hikes in Sedona is that many of the popular trails have more than one potential trailhead. A tip to remember is always look for connecting trails leading to major hikes, for instance Mescal Trailhead also leads to Devils Bridge.

Grouping Hikes

In certain circumstances it could be beneficial to simply group a bunch of hikes together based on the fact you are parked somewhere and don’t want to leave the space.

Here are some ways you can park once and hike multiple trails.

Doe Mountain Trailhead:

  • Sunrise hike Doe Mountain
  • Hike Aerie Trail to Fay Canyon
  • Continue on Aerie Trail to Boynton Canyon

Mescal Trailhead:

  • Hike Devils Bridge for sunrise
  • Return to trailhead
  • Hike Long Canyon to Birthing Cave
  • Return to trailhead
  • Optional hike Boynton Canyon

Yavapai Vista Point:

  • Hike Cathedral Rock for sunrise
  • Return to Yavapai
  • Hike Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop

Sedona Shuttle Bus

Sedona has become so popular as a tourist hiking destination that the city has been left with no choice but to run a shuttle service to the most sought after trailheads at peak times.

  • The shuttle runs year round from Thursday through Sunday between 7am – 5pm.
  • If you visit on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, you cannot take the shuttle.

Parking has become a huge issue for locals and tourists alike, particularly at trailheads in residential areas like Soldier Pass Trail.

We strongly urge you to consider using the free and eco friendly Sedona shuttle for your own benefit and for the benefit of others.

It will save the drama of fighting for spaces and it will save you time overall by not waiting for a space to open up in the first place.

Here’s a link to the shuttle.

Shuttle Trailhead Options

Here are the two park & ride locations within Sedona and each trailhead you can access from both.

Posse Grounds Park & Ride:

  • Soldier Pass Trailhead (Soldier Pass Trail)
  • Dry Creek Trailhead (Devils Bridge Trail)
  • Mescal Trailhead (Devils Bridge Trail)

North SR-179 Park & Ride:

  • Cathedral Rock Trailhead (Cathedral Rock Trail)

Passes And Fees For Hiking In Sedona

Paying to park at trailheads for hiking in Sedona Arizona red rock pass
Ticket machine to buy Sedona Red Rock Pass at Doe / Bear Mountain Trailhead

There are certain Sedona hiking trailheads at which you must display either a Red Rock Pass or an America the Beautiful Interagency Pass on your vehicle dashboard. Failure to do so may result in a hefty fine.

You are not paying to hike, you are paying to park.

That means if you take a Sedona shuttle to a trailhead, you will not pay anything because the shuttle is free and you won’t be paying to park at a trailhead either.

Tip: You will need to display a pass if you intend to park your own vehicle at any of these trailheads in Sedona. This list covers almost all of the most popular hikes in Sedona so you are almost certainly going to need one of the two passes.

Let’s take a look at both pass options (you only need to display one or the other).

Red Rock Pass

You can buy a Red Rock Pass at this specific recreation.gov site in advance, or you can buy one at a ticket machine when you arrive in person at a trailhead in Sedona.

Note that not all trailheads have ticket machines, so if you buy in person you may have to find another nearby parking area to purchase a physical ticket before parking at your desired trailhead.

Red Rock Pass options include:

  • 1 Day Red Rock Pass – $5
  • 7 Day Red Rock Pass – $15
  • Red Rock Annual Pass – $20

The 1 day pass is a better option if you only intend on hiking for either 1 or 2 days in Sedona. If you plan to hike multiple trails around Sedona over a period of 3 – 7 days, you should buy the 7 day pass.

America The Beautiful Pass

The easier option is to buy an America the Beautiful annual pass, which is also known as an Interagency Pass.

We buy an annual pass every year because it gives us unlimited access to all US national parks and national monuments. In truth, we genuinely did not expect the pass to include parking for hikes in Sedona!

Read our guide on why America the Beautiful national parks pass is one of the best things you can buy if you plan to visit multiple national parks and monuments in the next year.

Instead of buying a Red Rock Pass you can simply display your America the Beautiful Pass.

How We Are Ordering The Best Hikes In Sedona

To make things clear and logical, we are ordering our list of the 20 best hikes in Sedona by difficulty.

You will find easy hikes in Sedona, followed by moderately difficult trails and finally the hardest trails you can hike in Sedona.

Note: Rating a hike as easy, moderate or hard is subjective and will change from hiker to hiker. We have listed hikes into categories based on comparing elements from each hike and determining our personal opinion of difficulty.

Easy Hikes In Sedona, Arizona

The spectacular red rocks of Sedona are filled with fun and adventurous hikes, but what if you’re just looking for the easiest trails to get a taste for the landscape?

Well, you have a diverse selection of shorter, flatter and less intense trails scattered throughout Sedona to consider.

1. Airport Mesa Sedona View Trail

Hiker looking at the view from Airport Mesa Sedona View Trail vortex site at dusk
Kristen soaking up the view over Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte from Airport Mesa vortex site at dusk
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Distance: 1.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 250 ft
  • Trailhead: Airport Mesa Scenic Vista
  • Time Required: 1 hour

Airport Mesa scenic vista is one of the most famous sunset spots in Sedona thanks to its elevated vantage point and northwest facing view over the small city.

You can also find one of the 4 main Sedona vortex sites and more fantastic views at Airport Mesa, but it is located on a small mound 250 ft lower and 0.7 of a mile to the east.

Map of Airport Mesa View Trail
Map of Sedona View Trail hike from scenic vista to vortex site (orange line)

Connecting these two popular attractions is a relatively easy and short hike called Sedona View Trail. Like its name says, the entire hike offers downtown Sedona views with towering red rock formations providing a striking backdrop.

To make this hike harder, you can include Airport Mesa Loop Trail which would add a further 3 miles and 400 ft elevation gain. Views are even better and span all compass directions.

Sunset over Sedona from Airport Mesa one of the most popular places to hike in the evening
Sunset over Sedona from Airport Mesa vista

Parking is free but limited near the vortex site, or you can pay $3 to park in a much larger lot at the scenic vista.

We hiked Sedona View Trail down to the vortex site and back to the scenic vista right in time for a colorful sunset.

Read our complete guide to the easy hike and stunning sunset photography at Airport Mesa Sedona View Trail for more information.

2. West Fork Trail

Subway rock formation with shallow river at the end of West Fork of Oak Creek hike trail in Sedona Arizona
Subway tunnel formation at the end of West Fork of Oak Creek trail
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Distance: 6.6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Trailhead: West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead
  • Time Required: 3-4 hours

West Fork of Oak Creek Trail is an interesting and unique hike in Sedona. The trail is long but very flat and you’ll barely break a sweat. You have to cross Oak Creek around a dozen times, but the water is extremely shallow.

West Fork is located 10 miles drive north of town, which puts many off but it means the trail is quieter. We saw very few people on this hike.

Map of West Fork of Oak Creek Trail
Map of the West Fork of Oak Creek Trail

You have to pay a separate entrance fee of $11 because the hike is on private land. Your Red Rock Pass will not work here.

Is it worth paying a one off fee for this hike in Sedona?

Well, the climax of the traditional West Fork day hike is a gorgeous curving subway tunnel, similar to the Subway Hike in Zion National Park. And it is a great one for the kids or if you’re looking to escape the overcrowded trails in town.

Hiker crossing creek in a forest in arizona
Kristen walking across one of several creek crossings

But despite West Fork being a hugely popular hike with several creek crossings and a picturesque ending, we have to say it would be near the bottom of the pack on our next visit to the area.

Paying $11 to park on top of the Red Rock Pass is frustrating. Plus, it is out of the way and there are more exciting hikes with better views closer to town.

Read our complete guide to hiking West Fork Trail to see if this is a hike you should add to your list.

3. Fay Canyon Trail

Fay Canyon Arch is one of the most popular hikes in Sedona views over red rock landscape
View from behind Fay Canyon Arch overlooking the canyon below
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 150 ft
  • Trailhead: Fay Canyon Trailhead
  • Time Required: 1.5 hours

Fay Canyon is a very popular easy hike in Sedona. It is sandwiched between Boynton Canyon and Doe Mountain / Bear Mountain trailheads respectively, making it easy to hike all 3 (or 4 if you take on Bear!) in one go.

The hike into Fay Canyon is flat, scenic and perfect for beginners.

But there are two optional trail variations, both with steep climbs which would enhance this hike into moderate difficulty with steep and unsteady elevation gain.

Map of Fay Canyon Trail in Sedona Arizona
Map of Fay Canyon with alternate parking options and optional climbs to viewpoints

Steep climb one is up to Fay Canyon Arch. The arch looks tiny from the main trail but it frames the canyon below magnificently once you’re standing behind the formation.

Steep climb two is a choice only for experienced hikers, between a west ascent or east ascent at the back end of Fay Canyon leading to a rock formation summit or ridge summit.

View over Fay Canyon from West Ascent a stunning view and hike in Sedona Arizona
View over Fay Canyon from West Ascent at the end of trail

We hiked part way up west ascent to look back over Fay Canyon for remarkable valley views. Both the arch and end ascent are worth the challenge if you are feeling up to it.

Read our complete guide to hiking Fay Canyon Trail with optional adventure climbs to Fay Canyon Arch and the West Ascent Summit.

4. Soldier Pass Trail (Optional Soldier Pass Cave)

Seven sacred pools on the Soldier Pass Trail hike in Sedona Arizona
Drone photo of the Seven Sacred Pools on Soldier Pass Trail
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy (moderate with cave)
  • Trail Distance: 2.4 miles roundtrip (4.2 miles with cave)
  • Elevation Gain: 250 ft (750 ft with cave)
  • Trailhead: Soldier Pass Trailhead
  • Time Required: 2 hours (3 hours with cave)

Soldier Pass Trail is one of the most heavily trafficked family friendly hikes in Sedona. Typically a hiking trail will lead to one single summit, viewpoint or attraction. But Soldier Pass Trail features three distinct elements.

The first is a gigantic sinkhole in the ground known as Devils Kitchen. Second is a series of small cascading waterfalls known as the Seven Sacred Pools. And finally, the hike can be optionally elevated to moderate difficulty if you want to climb inside Soldier Pass Cave.

Solider Pass Trail and Cave Map
Map of the Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona

All three landmarks offer fantastic photography opportunities but this is a very busy trail so be prepared to share it with plenty of other hikers.

Parking is notoriously challenging at Soldier Pass trailhead, so we suggest trying Jim Thompson trailhead or the Sedona shuttle.

Soldier Pass Cave is one of the best hikes in Sedona stunning narrow caverns with three light sources

We thoroughly enjoyed the easy and flat connecting trail between Devils Kitchen and Seven Sacred Pools, before upping the ante with a thigh burning climb to reach the impressive Soldier Pass Cave.

Read our complete guide to hiking Soldier Pass Trail to Soldier Pass Cave for photos of Devils Kitchen, Seven Sacred Pools and how to access the cave.

5. Birthing Cave via Long Canyon Trail

Hiker sat in a small hole at the back Birthing Cave in Sedona a very popular hike with stunning cave ending
Mark sat in the small half sphere shaped depression at the back of Birthing Cave
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 270 ft
  • Trailhead: Long Canyon Trailhead
  • Time Required: 1.5 hours

Birthing Cave is a lesser known, unique and intriguing cave in Sedona. It is accessed via an easy and flat walk along Long Canyon Trail, followed by a short burst up a steep bank to access the cave area.

This small climb does increase the trail difficulty to bordering on moderate but it is easy enough for most. And it is well worth the climb.

Map of the Birthing Cave hike on Long Canyon Trail in Sedona Arizona
Map of the Long Canyon Trail to Birthing Cave hike in Sedona

Birthing Cave is relatively unknown which means you won’t have to contend with the crowds you would find in other caves. Parking at Long Canyon Trailhead is limited but never too busy and Mescal Trailhead offers an easy alternative.

This is not a typical cave, it is more of a depression cut into a cliffside shaped like a teardrop or flame. And right at the back center of the depression is a second much smaller depression, this time shaped like half a tennis ball or an ice cream scooper.

Hiker stood at on the floor of Birthing Cave in Sedona with a teardrop shaped cave entrance framing the landscape below one of the best hikes in the area
Excellent perspective photo with Kristen and the flame shaped Birthing Cave entrance

You can climb inside the small round hole but it does take some scrambling and you’ll need footwear with good traction. Views over the desert landscape from inside Birthing Cave are exceptional and you might just have this one to yourself.

Read our complete guide to hiking Long Canyon Trail to Birthing Cave in Sedona for photos and a full trail description.

6. Hideout Cave via Robbers Roost Trail

Hiker sat in Hideout Cave window enjoying the view
Kristen sat in Hideout Cave window enjoying the view over Sedona
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 1 mile roundtrip (3 miles w/out 4WD)
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft (450 ft w/out 4WD)
  • Trailhead: Hideout Trailhead (FR 525C – FR 9530 w/out 4WD)
  • Time Required: 1.5 hours (2.5 hours w/out 4WD)

Robbers Roost Trail leading to the photogenic Hideout Cave is almost guaranteed to be quiet, even during the busiest peak season times in Sedona. This hike is located 21 miles northwest of downtown Sedona via gravel roads, which means very few will even consider Robbers Roost.

There are two versions of the hike leading to Hideout Cave. The first is for 4WD high clearance vehicles like Jeeps and ATVs with a parking option just 0.5 miles from the cave. The second is for 2WD vehicles with a parking option 1.5 miles from the cave at the intersection of FR525C and FR9530.

Map of the driving directions from Sedona to Robbers Roost trail and Hideout Cave
Driving directions from Sedona to both parking areas for hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave

Why would you bother with Robbers Roost Trail?

Well, it is a nice change of scenery and an escape from the tourist hordes in town. It is also located near Honanki Heritage Site and Palatki Heritage Site, as well as Diamondback Gulch and Outlaw 4×4 trail. We hired a Jeep in Sedona and combined all of these into one day.

Hiker relaxing in one of the two natural windows inside Hideout Cave in Sedona Arizona
Mark relaxing in the smaller Hideout Cave window looking at the awesome view

The trail itself drops 50 ft and immediately climbs 50 ft like a V shape. To access Hideout Cave you must navigate a narrow ledge with drop offs, which may not be suitable for younger children.

Inside Hideout Cave you will find 2 natural windows with spectacular views, one long oval window and one small circular window.

Read our complete guide to hiking Robbers Roost Trail to Hideout Cave for more information on parking and how to access the cave.

Moderately Difficult Hikes In Sedona

Let’s move onto the best moderately difficult hikes in Sedona, Arizona. This is where the bulk of the most famous hiking trails can be found.

Often the only things qualifying these hikes as moderate as opposed to easy is sections with steeper gradients or light scrambling.

7. Devils Bridge Trail

Devils Bridge red rock formation at sunrise one of the most popular hikes in sedona arizona
Solitude at Devils Bridge during sunrise in December
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 450 ft
  • Trailhead: Dry Creek Trailhead
  • Time Required: 3 hours

Devils Bridge is arguably the most sought after hike for photographers and social media stars in all of Sedona. It is always busy on the trail and especially at the bridge formation itself. Many (including ourselves!) choose to hike Devils Bridge at sunrise in an attempt to beat the rush.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of hiking Devils Bridge, parking is always an issue. Consider taking the Sedona shuttle to Dry Creek Trailhead instead.

Map of the Devils Bridge trail with parking options
The extremely popular Devils Bridge with multiple trailhead options

From Dry Creek Trailhead walk Chuck Wagon Trail so you avoid sharing a muddy road with 4×4 vehicles on Dry Creek Basin. Alternatively, park at Mescal Trailhead and join Devils Bridge via Chuck Wagon.

If you rent a Jeep on your visit to Sedona, you can drive Dry Creek Road past all the hikers and park right at Devils Bridge trailhead. This helped us make the bridge for sunrise.

Where Are Those Morgans hiking on Devils Bridge at sunrise in Sedona Arizona
Mark and Kristen walking out onto Devils Bridge after sunrise

Although Devils Bridge is a unique and photogenic formation in the Sedona Red Rock Wilderness area, we think it is overhyped. If we arrived to the bridge and the line was 50 or 100 deep as it can be, there’s no way we would wait around.

Hiking at sunrise means you will stand a better chance of summiting, getting your photo and leaving before the masses arrive. Most of the trail is flat and easy but there are some steep climbs on uneven rocks close to the summit.

Read our complete guide to hiking Devils Bridge Trail at sunrise for more photographs, alternate parking options and a full trail walkthrough.

8. Bell Rock Climb With Courthouse Butte Loop Trail

Hiking Bell Rock in Sedona to spectacular views over the red rock landscape in northern arizona
Kristen half way up the Bell Rock climb with stunning views over Sedona’s red rock landscape
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 4.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 800 ft
  • Trailhead: Bell Rock Trailhead
  • Time Required: 3 hours

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte are two skyline dominating formations on the southern edges of Sedona. The loop hiking trail encircling both towering rocks is flat, easy, quiet and scenic.

But this is another hugely popular hike and one of the 4 major energy vortex sites in Sedona so arriving early is recommended to get a parking spot. Try Yavapai Vista or South Bell Rock lots if you can’t find a space in the main parking area.

Map of the Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Trail in Sedona Arizona
Map of Bell Rock Climb and Courthouse Butte Loop Trail with our Hidden Loop Trail

You can include an optional adventurous climb directly up most (but not all!) of Bell Rock which increases difficulty but opens up staggering views to the north.

We stumbled across a fun hidden loop trail half way up Bell Rock that you can add into your hike for an even more exciting experience. Solid shoes with good traction are required for climbing around Bell Rock.

Our hidden loop is not a maintained trail and care must be taken, especially with younger kids as there are drop offs to consider. But it does take this hike up a notch and provides 360 degree views.

Bell Rock from the Courthouse Butte Loop on a clear blue sky and sunny day in december
Bell Rock as seen from the Courthouse Butte Loop Trail

The more simplistic loop around the base of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock is suitable for all ages and abilities. Our favorite part of hiking the loop clockwise was right near the end from the south side of Bell Rock.

Read our complete guide to hiking Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Trail including details on our hidden loop route.

9. Boynton Canyon Trail To Subway Cave

Hiker walking inside Subway Cave on the Boynton Canyon Trail hike in Sedona Arizona
Kristen walking on a narrow ledge inside Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft
  • Trailhead: Boynton Canyon Trailhead
  • Time Required: 3 hours

Boynton Canyon Trail is popular, heavily trafficked and diverse. Not only does Boynton Canyon contain an end of trail vista and one of the major energy vortex sites in Sedona, but it also leads to 2 of the 7 caves in Sedona; Kachina Cave and Subway Cave.

We personally chose to hike the entire Boynton Canyon Trail, including its viewpoint crescendo, the spur trail to Subway Cave and a short spur to its vortex site. However, we did unfortunately miss Kachina Cave because we didn’t know it existed until after we left Sedona.

Boynton Canyon Subway Cave Map in Sedona Arizona

But that means you can go one better than us! A spur trail leading to Kachina Cave can be found on the left side of the main trail after passing the residential area as you walk north.

The trail statistics above are for the hike to Subway Cave only, which is all most people do when visiting Boynton Canyon. We challenge you to see the viewpoint, both caves and the vortex site. That would be closer to 9 miles with 1,500 ft elevation gain and around 6 hours hiking time.

View from Subway Cave over red rocks and trees on a sunny day with clouds
Astounding view from Subway Cave in Boynton Canyon

Subway Cave is the star of the show on Boynton Canyon Trail with its striking tunnel-like cave appearing sliced in half by a thin and sharp meat cleaver. It is extremely photogenic but it is also incredibly busy inside the cave and scrambling is required to gain access.

Read our complete guide to hiking Boynton Canyon Trail to Subway Cave for photos of the entire hike and details on exactly where to turn off the main trail.

10. Doe Mountain Trail

Doe Mountain at sunrise perfect morning hike in Sedona to watch hot air balloons take off
Hot air balloons taking off at sunrise in Sedona as seen from the summit of Doe Mountain
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 400 ft
  • Trailhead: Doe / Bear Mountain Trailhead
  • Time Required: 2 hours

Doe Mountain is one of our top picks for a sunrise hike in Sedona. The trail is very short but it is steep enough and lung busting enough to make it a moderately challenging hike overall. You will essentially climb 400 ft of switchbacks in 0.75 miles right off the bat before summiting on a flat table top mesa.

The best part is you can hike nearby Fay Canyon or Boynton Canyon straight after your Doe Mountain sunrise hike before the morning crowds arrive.

Doe Mountain Map showing direction of sunrise and hot air balloons
Simple map showing Doe Mountain summit with the direction of both sunrise and hot air balloons taking off at dawn

Why hike Doe Mountain at sunrise?

Well, the short trail will only take a quick hiker 30 minutes to summit, which means you don’t have to set off long before the sun actually rises. Plus, you are on the western edges of Sedona’s beautiful landscape and you are at elevation.

And there’s a surprise in store.

Doe Mountain is one of the best sunrise hikes in Sedona to watch hot air balloons take to the sky at dawn
Kristen watching hot air balloons take off and warming up in the December sun at dawn

You have front row tickets to Sedona’s sunrise hot air balloon show. Doe Mountain summit has unobstructed views to the southeast overlooking balloons taking to the sky with the sun directly behind.

Read our complete guide to hiking Doe Mountain Trail at sunrise to see the hot air balloons and Sedona landscape vista.

11. Chimney Rock And Little Sugarloaf Loop Trail

Watching sunrise from the top of Chimney Rock in northern Arizona
Kristen watching a spectacular sunrise from the base of Chimney Rock spires
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 2.3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 800 ft
  • Trailhead: Thunder Mountain Trailhead
  • Time Required: 2.5 hours

Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf Trail is another of our best Sedona sunrise hike selections. This one gets you much closer to the action and opens up a completely different vista. If we were pushed we might say this one just about wins it based purely on the view.

Park at Thunder Mountain Trailhead or Andante Trailhead to hike Little Sugarloaf and Chimney Rock. This is not a popular hike in Sedona so you should be able to get parked without issue.

Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf hiking trail map at sunrise
Numbered map showing how to make the most of sunrise at Little Sugarloaf and Chimney Rock in Sedona

You will see the unique and obvious chimney shaped formation of Chimney Rock from many other hikes in Sedona. However, Little Sugarloaf is barely noticeable. We had no idea it even existed until we stood at the base of Chimney Rock’s spires moments before the sun beamed across the Sedona landscape.

Chimney Rock summit requires some light scrambling on unmaintained trail. It is steep and the views are partially restricted. So we suggest you take the easier and gentler trail to a more expansive sunrise viewpoint on the flat topped Little Sugarloaf instead.

Hiker enjoying the view from the summit of Little Sugarloaf in Arizona
Mark looking at Chimney Rock from the open summit of Little Sugarloaf

You will have 360 degree panoramic views over almost every famous rock formation in Sedona from the top of Little Sugarloaf at sunrise. If you feel up to it, hike up to Chimney Rock after sunrise.

We had both Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf completely to ourselves as we watched a magical sunrise erupt over Sedona.

Read our complete guide to hiking Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf Trail at sunrise to see the views from both summits.

12. Vultee Arch Trail

  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 3.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft
  • Trailhead: Vultee Arch Trailhead
  • Time Required: 2 hours

Vultee Arch Trail is one of the very few hikes we missed in Sedona. The traditional route is to drive a 4WD Jeep or ATV the full length of Dry Creek Road and hike 1.75 miles one way to reach Vultee Arch, a picturesque natural bridge formation located to the north of Sedona.

Dry Creek Road was flooded during our visit to Sedona in December, which meant we had to miss the hike to Vultee Arch. Or so we thought at the time.

However, there is another approach you can use to reach Vultee Arch from the other side.

The alternate hiking trail is called Sterling Pass and it begins right on AZ-89 not far from the hugely popular West Fork of Oak Creek. So you can either drive a 4WD vehicle to the Vultee Arch trailhead on Dry Creek Road or you can hike Sterling Pass with any type of vehicle.

Sterling Pass is a hard hike with around 2,000 ft elevation gain and some path finding but it is perfect for avid hikers looking for a short challenging hike without the crowds. It is on our list for next time.

13. Munds Wagon Trail To Cow Pies, Hangover Loop And Merry Go Round Rock

Hiker walking on Cow Pies on the Munds Wagon Trail in Arizona
Kristen hiking out around the flat expanse of Cow Pies on Munds Wagon Trail
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
  • Trailhead: Munds Wagon Trailhead
  • Time Required: 5 hours

Munds Wagon Trail is a fantastic hike for anyone looking to avoid the crowds on popular trails. This is a hike with multiple spur trails offering various difficulty levels on the eastern flank of Sedona, which is almost always overlooked by hikers.

If you stand in downtown Sedona or from a sunrise spot like Chimney Rock or Doe Mountain and look to the east you will see towering mountains bursting up into the sky. A popular Jeep trail leads high up Schnebly Hill Road to a vista or you can hike Munds Wagon Trail almost as far up the eastern mountains.

After 1.7 miles on Munds Wagon you will join Hangover Loop Trail which can be hiked in either direction but we suggest anti-clockwise so you can enjoy views overlooking Sedona to the front instead of back.

Cow Pies and Hangover Loop photo taken from Merry Go Round Rock near sunset on Schnebly Hill
Cow Pies and Hangover Loop as seen from Merry Go Round Rock with starburst of the sun near sunset

An optional but worthwhile spur trail to include on the loop is a short but steep out and back to Merry Go Round Rock, a very popular wedding photo spot, especially at sunset when the light is soft and yellow.

We drove our Jeep up Schnebly Hill but we parked up and hiked the Cow Pies and Hangover Loop. The entire trail (especially at Merry Go Round) has wonderful views over Sedona.

14. Little Horse Trail To Chicken Point

Chicken Point rock formation at the top of Little Horse Trail or Broken Arrow Trail
Chicken Point at the summit of Little Horse hiking trail and Broken Arrow 4×4 trail
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Trailhead: Little Horse Trailhead
  • Time Required: 2.5 hours

Little Horse Trail is another excellent hike in Sedona providing elevated views from the eastern mountains. This one begins close to Cathedral Rock and heads due east up to Chicken Point, which also serves as the highest point on the popular Broken Arrow off roading Jeep trail.

We did not hike this trail because we drove our Jeep to Chicken Point instead but we can highly recommend the viewpoint if you don’t plan to hire a Jeep during your visit to Sedona.

Hiker looking at amazing view from top of Little Horse Trail
Wide open summit at the end of Little Horse Trail with more fantastic views over Sedona

Little Horse Trail is highly rated on All Trails and it leads to a fantastic viewpoint for relatively little effort. Parking shouldn’t be an issue and you may even have the trail to yourself if you visit Sedona during a quieter period.

For a longer hike or to save trying to get parked at two different lots, you can combine Little Horse to Chicken Point with Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop via Bell Rock Trail.

15. Pyramid And Scorpion Loop Trail

Hiking the scorpion pyramid loop trail in sedona arizona
Kristen hiking hidden gem Pyramid Loop Trail in Sedona
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Trailhead: Schuerman Mountain Trailhead
  • Time Required: 3 hours

Pyramid and Scorpion Loop Trail is one of our best Sedona hidden gem hikes. Very few people venture this far to the southwest of town and even fewer know this hike exists. But we don’t think that will last long, so get in now before it becomes more popular.

You can hike this trail in two ways, either by starting near Sedona high school at Schuerman Mountain Trailhead or by starting at Pyramid Mountain Trailhead and hiking a shorter loop version.

Map of Pyramid and Scorpion Loop Trail
Basic map showing Scorpion and Pyramid Loop Trail with trailheads at each end

We personally hiked the shorter loop version without the longer Scorpion Trail section to save time, but we did miss out on some special views.

Scorpion begins at a higher elevation and drops down a ridge line until it reaches the Pyramid / Scorpion Loop, which is shared by mountain bikers. Views to the southeast (namely over Cathedral Rock) are unobstructed and far reaching, especially from the Scorpion Trail section.

Hiker on a trail with views over Cathedral Rock in northern Arizona
Some of the best views over Cathedral Rock can be found on Scorpion and Pyramid Trail

The dirt packed trails of Scorpion and Pyramid are fun and filled with desert vegetation. Awesome Cathedral Rock views flicker in and out of view to the east as you circle the pyramid shaped mountain.

And you will be able to count on one hand the amount of other hikers sharing this unknown trail with you. Sunrise and sunset would both be wonderful times of day to hike Pyramid, with soft light illuminating the red rock views.

Read our complete guide to hiking hidden gem Pyramid and Scorpion Loop Trail for more information.

Hard Hikes In Sedona

The hardest hikes in Sedona should only be attempted by experienced hikers who are confident and well prepared.

This category features some of the most adventurous and challenging trails, including a secret Sedona cave hike and the single most iconic hike in Sedona – Cathedral Rock.

With the exception of Cathedral Rock, you can expect the remainder of these hard trails to be much quieter when directly compared with the popular instagram friendly hikes like Devils Bridge and Subway Cave.

16. Cathedral Rock Trail

Sunrise from the top of Cathedral Rock in Arizona
Watching the sun rise behind Courthouse Butte from between towering spires at the summit of Cathedral Rock
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Trail Distance: 1.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 700 ft
  • Trailhead: Cathedral Rock Trailhead
  • Time Required: 2.5 hours

Cathedral Rock is the quintessential hike you simply can’t miss on your visit to Sedona. It is the trail you should prioritize within your itinerary, whether that be an early start, during the day or a late finish.

But parking at Cathedral Rock Trailhead is near impossible during the day and around sunset. Therefore, 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 Arizona
Map showing the 5 parking areas and trails typically used for hiking Cathedral Rock

We arrived at Cathedral Rock Trailhead around 3pm in time for a 6pm sunset and cars were backed up down Back O Beyond Road. Next morning we arrived 45 minutes before sunrise so we could summit Cathedral Rock for sunrise and the parking lot was empty.

The trail up Cathedral Rock is very short but it is very steep and mostly on slick rock. You must wear shoes with good tread, especially after or during rain. There are scrambling sections requiring use of hands in the lower half of the ascent.

Hiker walking down a sunrise summit at Cathedral Rock hike in Sedona Arizona
Kristen hiking back down from the summit of Cathedral Rock after sunrise

Once you summit and catch your breath, you can either turn right and walk out to a ledge or turn left along a narrow path. This narrow path leads to another hidden climb which in turn brings you up to a remarkable sunrise spot.

Cathedral Rock spires in the immediate foreground, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte in the middle ground and the sun rising in the background illuminating the sky. Stunning.

Read our complete guide to hiking Cathedral Rock Trail for parking options and sunrise photos from the hike.

17. Bear Mountain Trail

Bear Mountain Trailhead in shadow and sunshine mid morning
Trailhead for Bear Mountain at dawn covered in shadow and sunshine
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Trail Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2000 ft
  • Trailhead: Doe / Bear Mountain Trailhead
  • Time Required: 4-6 hours

Bear Mountain Trail is arguably the most popular hard hike in Sedona outside of Cathedral Rock. It is only 5 miles round trip but 2,000 ft elevation gain is no joke and much of that is scrambling. This trail is exposed and can be dangerous in Summer months.

The Bear Mountain Trail is easily accessible and can be combined with hiking nearby Doe Mountain, Fay Canyon or Boynton Canyon. It is not the hardest hike in Sedona, but it is a fantastic challenge for experienced and strong hikers looking to get away from the crowds on easier trails.

We highly recommended you begin hiking Bear Mountain early in the morning so you beat the afternoon heat. Start at 7am to finish by around 12pm.

Gradual elevation gain transitions into steeper climbing and at times you may need to use your hands. Bear Mountain Trail is a great hike but it does take up a big chunk of time so only take it on if you are prepared to lose a half day from your Sedona itinerary.

18. Capitol Butte Trail (Thunder Mountain)

  • Trail Difficulty: Very hard
  • Trail Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1800 ft
  • Trailhead: Dry Creek Road Trailhead
  • Time Required: 4-5 hours

Capitol Butte – also known as Thunder Mountain – is arguably the hardest hike you can attempt in Sedona. It is important to note this trail should only be attempted by very strong and experienced hikers who are not afraid of heights and are capable of navigating with the use of GPS.

We did not hike Capitol Butte during our first visit to Sedona and we probably won’t hike it next time either. However, Capitol Butte has to be in this list of best hikes in Sedona because the 360 degree vista summit at 6,342 ft would be insane and some pro hikers will be champing at the bit to take it on.

Comments from hikers on All Trails read that the trail is very hard to follow and going off trail can lead to serious scrambling or even climbing. Due to constant location checking and small corrections, the hike / climb to Capitol Butte can take longer than expected.

Plan to set off early so you can avoid the heat of midday and afternoon, take plenty of water, wear shoes with excellent traction and take it slow. The descent will take just as long as the ascent due to scrambling sections both ways. This is not for anyone who has a fear of heights.

19. Wilson Mountain Trail

  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Trail Distance: 12 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,800 ft
  • Trailhead: Wilson Mountain Trailhead
  • Time Required: 6 hours

Wilson Mountain is the highest trail you can climb in Sedona, reaching just short of 7,000 ft in elevation. But despite the elevation gain and distance, Wilson Mountain is an easier hard hike when compared to Bear Mountain. The elevation gain is very gradual and there are no extra steep sections to contend with.

We didn’t have time to hike Wilson Mountain but it is definitely a trail we will walk during our next visit to Sedona. The summit features 2 viewpoints and both are well worth visiting.

The first viewpoint looking south from “Sedona Overlook” is spectacular and the second viewpoint called “Canyon Overlook” faces north into Coconino National Forest.

If you’re short on time and want to hike a challenging trail in Sedona, take on Bear Mountain. But if you have plenty of time or want to escape the crowds, hike Wilson Mountain.

20. Keyhole Cave Trail

Keyhole Cave one of the best cave hikes in Sedona hiker perspective against enormous entrance
Mark sat on a ledge of the enormous Keyhole Cave entrance opening
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Trail Distance: 2.3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft
  • Trailhead: Teacup / Sugarloaf Trailhead
  • Time Required: 3 hours

Keyhole Cave is the biggest and most difficult cave to reach in Sedona. There are no official trails leading to the cave but dozens of hikers make it inside the cave each day. It is important to note that Keyhole Cave can only be accessed by forging your own path through rough desert vegetation.

Despite having no official trail, Keyhole Cave appears on hiking apps like All Trails and Gaia GPS, and it is located within public land. Park at Teacup / Sugarloaf Trailhead and hike until you reach the intersection with Thunder Mountain Trail.

Map of the Keyhole Cave hike in Sedona Arizona
Map of the Keyhole Cave hike with trailheads and cave location

Immediately behind the sign, head directly north across a dry creek and aim for the distant red rock formation. You can actually see Keyhole Cave from the parking lot. Wear bulky shoes and long pants to deter sharp and prickly plants from sticking into your feet and ankles.

Accessing Keyhole Cave requires climbing once you reach the entrance but it is doable for non-climbers. Sometimes hikers leave ropes dangling from the top but don’t rely on those ropes unless others on site can attest to safety.

View looking out from inside Keyhole Cave
Looking out over Sedona from the right side of Keyhole Cave

Inside, Keyhole Cave is astounding. The view through the enormous cave entrance is remarkable and the semi-circle shaped interior cavern itself is awesome. Strong hikers shouldn’t miss this one.

Read our complete guide to hiking and climbing into the awesome Sedona Keyhole Cave for details and photos on how to find and access the cave.

Sedona Hiking Trails Map

Would you like to see a map of the most popular hikes in Sedona?

Orientating yourself with the local geography and locations of hikes before you visit will help you get a faster start when you arrive on site in Sedona.

Here’s a link to our interactive Google Map of the best Sedona hikes.

We have already grouped Sedona’s best hikes into difficulty categories in this guide. So in the map you will find all 20 Sedona hikes grouped instead into busy, moderately busy or quiet trails based on our own experiences, research and comments from other hikers.

Key:

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

Navigation Apps for Hiking In Sedona

Hiking trails in Sedona are well marked and mostly easy to follow. But you will lose cell phone service and internet connection on almost all hikes.

If you are going to try finding spur trails leading to caves or take on some of the more challenging trails, you should consider using one of the best hiking apps with offline maps capabilities to your smartphone.

We personally use two hiking apps to do this: AllTrails and GAIA GPS.

Both apps offer similar features and will allow you to download maps to your phone for offline use. But each app is a little different so will go over the benefits to both.

AllTrails

AllTrails uses a database of trail maps and has a large amount of active users. What makes this app great is the reviews, tips and current conditions hikers leave about each trail. We always check to see what people are saying about a trail in the lead up to hiking.

AllTrails is a fantastic resource if you want to know what to expect before you hike.

While AllTrails offers a pro membership for $2.50 per month, $69.99 for three years, or $100 a lifetime, we personally only use the basic free membership.

Be aware maps on this app are crowdsourced, which means trails are uploaded by users. For this reason, we have found AllTrails to not always be accurate.

We only use this app for recent reviews so we can prepare for trail conditions.

GAIA GPS

Using an offline map like gaia gps helps with finding caves on some of the best trails in Sedona Arizona
Using our offline map to find Birthing Cave

GAIA has become a hiking app we can not live without. What sets GAIA apart for us is the technical detail. We have used offline maps on our GAIA app for hundreds of hiking trails and have never missed a turn.

This app will record, track, save and share the time and distance of your trip. It will also tell you altitude, current speed, average speed, moving speed, max speed, and pace.

Membership runs $20/year while a premium membership will cost you $40/year.

If you plan to hike extensively throughout Sedona, GAIA will be the better choice for tracking your exact location at all times.

Use our exclusive GAIA GPS 20% discount to get instant access to this awesome hiking navigation app at a lower cost today.

Sedona Hiking Itinerary Examples

Now you know about all of the best hikes in Sedona spanning the difficulty spectrum. Let’s take a quick look at a few examples of how you can link some of these hikes together.

Easy One Day Sedona Hiking Itinerary

Here’s an example of an easy to moderate hiking day in Sedona:

  • Start with sunrise at Doe Mountain
  • Next hike Fay Canyon without the arch or 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 without climbing up Bell Rock
  • Finish with a walk along Airport Mesa Sedona View Trail around sunset

Challenging One Day Sedona Hiking Itinerary

Now here’s an example of a hard hiking day in Sedona:

  • Start with sunrise at Cathedral Rock
  • Drive to Bear Mountain and hike to the summit
  • Head over to Boynton Canyon and hike to Subway Cave
  • Park at Teacup Trailhead and hike to Keyhole Cave

Two Day Sedona Hiking Itinerary

Two days allows you to split or group hikes together. Here’s an example of how you might create a 2 day Sedona hiking itinerary:

  • D1 Morning – Hike Doe Mountain, Fay Canyon, Boynton Canyon and Birthing Cave
  • D1 Afternoon – Hike Devils Bridge, Keyhole Cave and Soldier Pass Trail
  • D2 Morning – Hike Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock / Courthouse Butte
  • D2 Afternoon – Hike Munds Wagon Trail and Airport Mesa Sedona View Trail

Three Day Sedona Hiking Itinerary

Three days gives you plenty of time to hike the core of Sedona’s hiking trails. Here’s how you can squeeze multiple hikes into each day:

  • D1 – Hike Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Little Horse, Munds Wagon and Airport Mesa
  • D2 – Hike Devils Bridge, Keyhole Cave, Soldier Pass, Chimney Rock and Pyramid / Scorpion
  • D3 – Hike Doe Mountain, Bear Mountain, Fay Canyon, Boynton Canyon and Birthing Cave

More Best Hikes In …

We hope this comprehensive hiking guide helps plan the perfect itinerary filled with the best hikes for your visit to Sedona, Arizona!

Have you been to Sedona? Which is your favorite hiking trail?

Please let us know if you have any questions or need help planning your trip by commenting below.

Happy Hiking,

Mark and Kristen

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