In Sedona, there are many hidden caves to hike to. The Birthing Cave is one of the fastest and easiest to visit.
Round trip, this hike comes in at 2 miles and most people can do this in about an hour, if you move fast. However, the trick is finding parking (this is a very popular hike in Sedona) and then photographing the cave.
Distance: 2 miles round-trip
Total Ascent: 250 feet
Difficulty: Easy until you get to the cave; climbing up into the Birthing Cave is moderate to difficult
Length of Time: 1 to 2 hours
Trailhead: Long Canyon Trailhead
Location: West Sedona
When to Go: All year. The best time is the spring and fall, when temperatures are mild, but expect big crowds. During the summer, expect very hot temperatures but lower crowds. In the winter, temperatures can get below freezing but crowds are also lower.
Red Rock Pass: A Red Rock Pass is not required for this hike.
Map of the Birthing Cave hike. The blue trail is the Long Canyon Trail. At the split, stay left to continue on the red trail to the Birthing Cave. The green trail is the connector trail between the Mescal Trailhead and Long Canyon Trailhead.
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.
How to Hike to the Birthing Cave
Getting to the Trailhead
Park at the Long Canyon Trailhead, which is located on Long Canyon Road. This parking lot is very small, with enough room for just several cars. Overflow parking is located along the shoulder of Long Canyon Road but this is also very limited. There are no toilets at this trailhead.
If you cannot find a parking space, you can try the nearby Mescal Trailhead, which is also located on Long Canyon Road. There is a trail on the west side of Long Canyon Road that connects Mescal Trailhead to Long Canyon Trail (the Mescal Connector). This trail is 0.5 miles one-way.
Long Canyon Trailhead
Hiking to the Birthing Cave
For the majority of this hike, you will be walking on a wide, flat, sandy trail. It’s not until the very end when the trail gains any real elevation. From the parking area, it’s a quick walk to get to the cave. On this hike, most of your time will be spent enjoying the view and taking photographs.
From the Long Canyon Trailhead, walk on the Long Canyon Trail for 0.6 miles. At this point, there will be a wooden fence in front of you. Just before you reach this fence, turn left onto an unmarked narrower trail. You will now be walking towards the red cliffs.
This is the trail split at 0.6 miles into the hike. Go left to hike to the Birthing Cave.
Follow this narrow trail for 0.3 miles. As you get closer to the cliffs, look for a trail to the right that leads up into the cliffs. Or, just listen for the sounds of talking and laughter from those who already made it to the Birthing Cave.
This is the trail that leads up to the Birthing Cave. Keep an eye out for this heart-shaped depression, which is the Birthing Cave.
This trail to the Birthing Cave is very obvious and almost impossible to miss. What you are looking for is a heart-shaped depression in the cliffs, which is the Birthing Cave. At this point, it is a short, moderate climb to get up to the cave.
Inside the Birthing Cave
Now that you are here, what do you do?
From the entrance of the cave, you can turn around and look out for sweeping views of the red rocks of Sedona. For the best view (to get higher than the shrubs and short trees at the cave entrance), you will have to climb up onto the cave walls. You don’t have to go far, just three or four feet to the first ledge, for better views from the cave.
Inside the Birthing Cave
The walls of the cave are a smooth slickrock. There is very little to hold onto as you climb up, so wearing a good pair of hiking shoes with traction is highly recommended.
You don’t have to go up very high for great views out of the cave. However, if you are sure-footed, it’s worth it to climb up to the higher levels. Just be very careful because it is slippery. If you choose to hike out onto the ledges, which are at the edge of the cave entrance, it will be a long fall to the ground below. So again, be very careful here.
Why is it called the Birthing Cave? There are several theories as to why this cave is called the Birthing Cave. One theory states that the indigenous Hopi people sent pregnant women here when it was time to give birth. But if you look at photos of the cave, it resembles part of the female anatomy, which several of our Facebook fans immediately picked up on when we posted these photos.
How to Photograph the Birthing Cave
If you want to capture a photo of the entire cave entrance, the best place to do this is at the circular depression at the back of the cave. To get our photo of the Birthing Cave entrance, I used a Canon 5D Mark III camera with a 16 – 35 mm lens. I was able to get the entire cave in one shot at 16 mm. I also tried out the panorama feature on my iPhone from the same vantage point, but this cut off the sides of the cave walls.
So, if you want to get a photo of the entire Birthing Cave entrance, you will need a wide angle lens and be prepared to climb up to the back of the cave.
Just note, it is very slippery climbing up here. Put your camera in your backpack or carry it on a strap so you can climb up, using both hands, to this photo spot.
Want to learn more about our photography gear? Click here to visit our Photography Gear Guide.
Photos of the Birthing Cave
Below are photos from inside the Birthing Cave.
I am sitting at the circular depression on the back wall of the cave. From here, you have the best angle to get a photo of the entire cave.
Looking back at the Birthing Cave from the left ledge.
I am standing on the left ledge of the cave. If you do this, be very careful, as it’s a big drop if you slip.
One more view of the cave.
Finishing the Hike
To end the hike, retrace your steps back to the Long Canyon Trailhead. If you hike fast, this takes about 20 minutes.
Best Time of Day to Visit the Birthing Cave
We were here at 4:30 pm in April, a great time to visit the Birthing Cave. By mid to late-afternoon, crowds begin to lessen on the Sedona hiking trails. This time of day is also a great time for photography from this cave.
The cave faces southeast, so in the afternoon the cave is in the shade and the red rocks that you see from the cave are lit up by the late afternoon sun. If you are here for sunset, I think it would be beautiful.
We were not here in the morning, but based on the direction that the cave faces, I think early morning would be a hard time to take photos, as you would be looking directly into the sun.
Midday, from 9 am to 3 pm, expect big crowds on the trails and inside the cave.
Tips to Have the Best Experience
Leave No Trace. Practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace. This includes packing out what you bring to the hiking trail, be considerate of other hikers, and stay on the trail.
Be prepared to spend at least 15 minutes at the Birthing Cave. There will most likely be other groups of people here, and some of them will be scrambling up to the “best photo spot,” so expect to wait your turn to do the same.
Be very careful inside the Birthing Cave. If you are not wearing proper footwear, are afraid of heights, or just feel uneasy hiking up the cave walls, skip it. It’s not worth risking injury just to get a photo.
What to Bring on the Hike
Hiking shoes. You can get by with a good pair of walking shoes or running shoes for this hike. However, if you plan to climb up into the Birthing Cave, I recommend wearing hiking shoes. The extra traction on hiking shoes will make your climb up into the cave and on the cave ledges much easier and safer.
Water and snacks. Bring at least 1 liters of water in the summer.
Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses. There is very little shade on the trail. The cave is shaded from the sun midday and in the afternoon.
Camera. Even a smartphone will do. Use the panorama feature to capture as much of the cave as you can.
More Information on Sedona
BEST OF SEDONA: 15 Epic Things to Do in Sedona
HIKES IN SEDONA: 12 Amazing Hikes in Sedona
ONE DAY IN SEDONA: How to Spend One Perfect Day in Sedona
SEDONA ITINERARY: Sedona Itinerary: Best Way to Spend 1 to 6 Days in Sedona
WHERE TO STAY: Where to Stay in Sedona: Best Hotels for Your Budget
DEVILS BRIDGE: Everything You Need to Know to Hike to Devils Bridge
BOYNTON CANYON & THE SUBWAY CAVE: How to Hike to Boynton Canyon and the Subway Cave
BEAR MOUNTAIN: How to Hike Bear Mountain
SOLDIER PASS HIKE: Complete Guide to the Soldier Pass Hike & Soldier Pass Cave
BRINS MESA: How to Hike the Brins Mesa – Soldier Pass Loop
CATHEDRAL ROCK: How to Hike the Cathedral Rock Trail
4WD ROADS: Six 4WD Roads in Sedona…and Which Ones are Worth It
If you have any questions about hiking to the Birthing Cave, let us know in the comment section below.
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If this is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, visit our United States Travel Guide for more inspiration and travel planning tips.
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