If you are looking for an epic hiking destination, it’s tough to beat Sedona, Arizona. With its red rock scenery, arches, hidden caves, and network of hiking trails, this is a great place to explore on foot. Add in the abundance of top-notch hotels and restaurants in Sedona and you have an awesome getaway destination, whether it is just for a few days or an entire week. In this guide, we share 12 of the best hikes in Sedona.
The hikes in this guide are listed in order from the shortest to the longest. All distances are round trip.
Best Hikes in Sedona
1. Bell Rock Climb
Distance: 1 mile | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 400 feet | Time: 1 to 2 hours | Trailhead: Bell Rock Trailhead
Bell Rock is one of Sedona’s most recognizable landmarks. Hiking onto Bell Rock is tons of fun, making it one of the most popular hikes in Sedona.
Bell Rock Climb | Best Hikes in Sedona
The first 0.25 miles of the climb are marked with trail signs and wire baskets that are filled with rock. As you head higher onto Bell Rock, the wire baskets disappear but you can continue to hike higher by doing your own route finding.
Part of the fun of this hike is rock scrambling up onto the higher levels of Bell Rock.
How far you want to go is up to you. You can’t go all of the way to the top of Bell Rock but you can go pretty far. Here is the view from the upper levels of Bell Rock.
The view from Bell Rock | Best Hikes in Sedona
The view of Courthouse Butte from Bell Rock
2. Cathedral Rock
Distance: 1.2 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 700 feet | Time: 1 to 2 hours | Trailhead: Cathedral Rock Trailhead on Back O Beyond Road
Cathedral Rock is one of the best hikes in Sedona. This hike is short and sweet, and with some rock scrambling and jaw-dropping views, it’s tons of fun from start to finish.
Because of its popularity, do not expect solitude on this trail. This experience is much more about the climb up Cathedral Rock and the reward of panoramic views.
This hike is very similar to the Bell Rock Climb, only on a much larger scale. From the trailhead, you will hike and rock scramble your way up to Cathedral Rock, until you get to the saddle between the massive spires of sandstone. Enjoy the view!
Cathedral Rock View | Best Hikes in Sedona
PRO TRAVEL TIP: This is one of the most popular hikes in Sedona and getting a parking space can be the most challenging part of the hike. For full details on what to expect, with suggestions on optional parking locations, read our Guide to Cathedral Rock.
3. Fay Canyon
Distance: 2 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Time: 1 hour | Trailhead: Fay Canyon Trailhead
If you are looking for an easy, shady stroll through a canyon, put Fay Canyon on your list.
Fay Canyon | Best Hikes in Sedona
From start to finish, you will walk along a flat, sandy trail through Fay Canyon. Parts of the trail are shaded by trees and at times you get glimpses of the red rock cliffs that tower along both sides of the trail.
The trail ends at the back of the canyon…you know you are there once you reach the “End of Trail” sign.
As an optional detour, you can add on the short spur trail to the Fay Canyon Arch. We learned about this after doing this hike but you can read more about it on All Trails.
4. The Birthing Cave
Distance: 2 miles | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Elevation Gain: 250 feet | Time: 1 to 2 hours | Trailhead: Long Canyon Trailhead
To get to the cave, it is a relatively short, flat, and fast hike. Getting up into the cave is more challenging, as you hike up a steep trail to get to the mouth of the cave.
Once inside the Birthing Cave, you have the option to scramble up onto the cave walls. You don’t have to go far, just three or four feet to the first ledge, for great views from the cave.
The Birthing Cave
This is a great photography spot. For the best photos, bring along a wide angle lens (this photo was taken with a 16 – 35 mm lens) or try out the panoramic feature on your smart phone.
LEARN MORE: How to Hike to the Birthing Cave
5. Devils Bridge
Distance: 2 to 4 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Total Ascent: 400 to 500 feet | Time: 1 to 3 hours | Location: Devils Bridge Trailhead
Without a doubt, Devils Bridge is one of the best hikes in Sedona.
Devils Bridge | Best Hikes in Sedona
This is an EXTREMELY popular hike in Sedona. Hundreds of people per day hike to the bridge…for photos, for the views, and to even “pop the question.”
From the trailhead, it is just a 2 mile round-trip hike to Devil’s Bridge. It’s mostly flat and fast and just before getting to the bridge you will hike up several series of inclines and stone steps.
The trick is getting to the trailhead. The Devils Bridge trailhead is located on a road that is only accessible by a 4WD high-clearance vehicle. If you don’t have a 4×4, then you will have to start at the Mescal Trailhead or park and walk from Dry Creek Road.
LEARN MORE: How to Hike to Devils Bridge
6. Airport Loop Trail
Distance: 3 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation Gain: 400 feet | Time: 2 hours | Trailhead: Airport Mesa Trailhead
Airport Mesa is a shrub-covered mesa that is located to the south of Sedona.
The Airport Loop Trail makes a loop around the upper rim of the mesa. Along the hike, you can look out at Sedona’s most famous landmarks, including Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Munds Mesa, Thunder Mountain, and the town of Sedona.
View from the Summit Trail | Best Hikes in Sedona
Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, and Cathedral Rock
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Want the big views without walking the entire loop? Starting at the Airport Mesa trailhead, hike the short spur trail up to the top of the Summit Trail for awesome views over Sedona. Then hike the Loop Trail in a clockwise direction. You only have to hike a half-mile to get the best views of Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Butte. Retrace your steps back to the parking lot.
7. Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop
Distance: 4 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Total Ascent: 400 feet | Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours | Trailhead: Bell Rock Trailhead
If you are looking for an easy hike with great views of two of Sedona’s most iconic formations, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, then put this hike on your to do list.
Bell Rock | Best Hikes in Sedona
This hike is done as a loop, so your views are always changing. It’s a relatively flat hike so it’s great for all ages and ability levels. At the end of the hike, you have the option to add on the climb up Bell Rock (mentioned earlier), which we highly recommend.
Since this hike is done as a loop, it can be hiked in either direction. We recommend hiking the loop in a clockwise direction, saving the best views of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock for the end of the hike.
8. Soldier Pass
Distance: 4.5 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 800 feet | Time: 2 to 4 hours | Trailhead: Soldier Pass Trailhead
There are several reasons why the Soldier Pass Trail is one of the best hikes in Sedona. For one thing, it is relatively short and easy to hike. But the main reason why people love this trail is to visit the Seven Sacred Pools, hike past a sinkhole named Devil’s Kitchen, and hike to the Soldier Pass cave.
7 Sacred Pools
Soldier Pass Cave | Best Hikes in Sedona
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Parking at the trailhead can be a challenge. The trailhead parking lot only holds 14 vehicles, and since it is gated, you have to get your timing right to get a space here. Fortunately, there are other starting points for this hike…the next best place to park is at the Brins Mesa Trailhead. For full details on where to park, read our Guide to the Soldier Pass Trail.
9. Bear Mountain
Distance: 5 miles | Difficulty: Strenuous | Total Ascent: 1,800 feet | Time: 4 to 6 hours | Trailhead: Bear Mountain Trailhead
This may not be the longest hike on this list but it is the toughest. With 1,800 feet of total elevation gain, this hike has some very steep climbs on the way to the summit.
View from Bear Mountain | Best Hikes in Sedona
Bear Mountain is one of the tallest peaks in Sedona. From the top, you are rewarded with panoramic views of the red rocks of Sedona as well as the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff.
LEARN MORE: How to Hike the Bear Mountain Trail
10. West Fork Trail
Distance: 6 miles | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Total Ascent: 535 feet | Time: 3 to 5 hours | Location: West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead
This easy trail meanders along Oak Creek. It’s shady and quiet and it is a much different experience than the other hikes on this list.
West Fork Trail | Best Hikes in Sedona
For almost the entire distance of this hike, you walk along Oak Creek and get to see where the creek carved out the canyon walls. In some places, it resembles the Subway in Zion National Park.
Since you are in the shade of the trees, this is a great hike to do on a hot day in Sedona.
11. Brins Mesa + Soldier Pass Loop
Distance: 6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 1,200 feet | Time: 3 to 5 hours | Trailhead: Brins Mesa Trailhead
The Brins Mesa and Soldier Pass Loop combines two scenic hiking trails into one awesome experience.
Since this is done as a loop, you are always hiking through new landscapes, with new views.
From Brins Mesa, you get panoramic views of the surrounding red rock mountains.
On the Soldier Pass Trail, you get to see Devil’s Kitchen and the Seven Sacred Pools, with the option to add on the Soldier Pass cave.
The Brins Mesa – Soldier Pass Loop works best in a clockwise direction, especially if you can start early. You can hike the busier Soldier Pass Trail first thing in the morning and save the quieter, less-trafficked Brins Mesa Trail for mid to late morning when the hiking trails really start to get crowded.
LEARN MORE: How to Hike the Brins Mesa – Soldier Pass Loop
12. Boynton Canyon Trail & the Subway Cave
Distance: 7.5 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 1,300 feet | Time: 4.5 to 6.5 hours | Trailhead: Boynton Canyon Trail Trailhead
The hiking stats listed above include Boynton Canyon, the Boynton Vista Trail, and the Subway Cave.
Boynton Canyon is one of Sedona’s top hikes. This is a relatively easy hike, as you walk on a mostly flat trail that is sheltered from the sun. The trail ends at the back of the canyon, where a short climb takes you up to a viewpoint, offering sweeping views of Boynton Canyon.
End of the Boynton Canyon Trail | Best Hikes in Sedona
Along the trail, there are two detours you can take, to make this hike even more memorable.
Near the start of the hike, take the short detour on the Boynton Vista Trail for stunning views over the Enchantment Resort and the red rocks of Sedona.
View from the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail
There is also a hidden cave and Sinagua ruins you can visit. This cave, often referred to as the Subway Cave or the Boynton cave, has become a very popular spot in Sedona. Most of the people we met on the Boynton Canyon trail were doing this hike with the sole purpose of visiting the Subway Cave.
Best Hikes in Sedona: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each hiking trail. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Best Hikes in Sedona: Our Recommendations
The classic hikes for first-timers are Devils Bridge, Cathedral Rock, and the Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Loop Trail with or without the Bell Rock Climb.
If you want a short, easy hike, our top picks are Fay Canyon, the Airport Mesa Loop, and the Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Loop Trail.
If you will be hiking with kids, I recommend the Bell Rock Climb, Fay Canyon, and the Birthing Cave. Older kids will love Cathedral Rock and Devils Bridge.
Our favorite hikes are Cathedral Rock, the Brins Mesa and Soldier Pass Loop, Boynton Canyon, and the Birthing Cave.
As of spring 2022, there is a brand new shuttle in Sedona. This shuttle is free to ride and runs to several of the most popular trailheads. It has been implemented to easy traffic congestion in Sedona and help eliminate the parking issues at the popular trailheads.
Here is a quick overview of the trailheads and hikes you can get to with the shuttle.
Trailheads/Hikes You Can Get to with the Sedona Shuttle:
- Dry Creek Trailhead: Devils Bridge, Chuckwagon Trail, Dry Creek Trail
- Soldier Pass Trailhead: Soldier Pass Trail, Devil’s Kitchen, Seven Sacred Pools
- Cathedral Rock Trailhead: Cathedral Trail
- Little Horse Trailhead: Cathedral Trail, Bell Rock, Chicken Point
The shuttle runs every day from Thursday through Sunday. Buses operate from 6:30 am to 6 pm.
Before your visit, I recommend getting updates on the hours of operation and routes of the Sedona Shuttle on the official website. I do my best to keep this post updated, but since this shuttle is new and the schedule is evolving, hours and routes may change. On the official website, you can also get real time updates on when the next shuttle will arrive. Here is a link to the Sedona Shuttle guide.
Tips to Have the Best Experience
For most of these hikes you will need a Red Rock Pass. The pass costs $5 per day or $15 for one week. The pass can be purchased at the fee machine at the trailheads (credit cards only). If you have an America the Beautiful Pass, you can use this rather than purchasing a Red Rock Pass.
Sedona has become a very popular hiking destination. On our visit in April 2021, we were surprised at how busy the trails were. For many hikes, the parking lots were filled by 7 am. At Cathedral Rock, we got one of the last parking spaces at 6:15 am.
For the best experience, plan on getting a very early start, especially if you plan to visit Sedona in the spring and fall, the peak times to be here. Hiking late in the day, between 3:30 and 7:00 pm works very well too.
It took us several trips to Sedona and a total of 7 days to do all of the hikes on this list. If you are an avid hiker, plan on spending at least 3 days here so you can hike a bunch of these trails.
While in Sedona, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
If you have any questions about these hikes in Sedona, or if you would like to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information about Sedona & Arizona
PLACES TO GO IN ARIZONA: Visit Saguaro National Park and Petrified Forest National Park, explore Monument Valley, photograph Antelope Canyon, and visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Learn how to put all of this together in our Arizona Road Trip Itinerary.
SEDONA: Get links to all of our articles in our Sedona Travel Guide. To help you plan your visit, we also have guides to the best things to do in Sedona, the best hikes in Sedona, and how to plan the perfect Sedona itinerary. Learn where to stay in our Sedona Hotel Guide.
SEDONA 4WD ROADS: One of the best things to do in Sedona is to drive the 4WD roads. Here are six 4WD roads in Sedona to choose from and a detailed guide on how to drive Broken Arrow, the most popular 4WD experience in Sedona.
ARIZONA ITINERARIES: If you are looking for road trip ideas through Arizona, we have a couple of good ones. See the highlights of Arizona in our 10 Day Arizona Itinerary, visit the Grand Canyon and Utah’s Mighty 5 in our Two Week American Southwest Itinerary, and visit parts of Arizona, Las Vegas, and southern Utah in our 10 Day American Southwest Itinerary.
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