The Best Hikes in Sedona, Arizona
Famed for its red rocks, energy vortexes and spellbinding views, Sedona—which recently made our list of U.S. destinations that will reinvigorate your soul—is a hiker's paradise with a whopping 253 trails. That’s exponentially more than you could possibly hit on a single trip (it would take a months-long stay to make the most minor dent). Even the most active residents and expert guides can’t claim to have conquered all the scenic paths. If you’re planning a visit, chances are the decision of which trails to attempt is taking up a lot of mental real estate. While it’s not like any trails fail to deliver on gorgeous scenery, depending on what you’re seeking in terms of distance, difficulty and payoff, some are better than others. That's why we’ve rounded up the best hikes in Sedona for every skill level.
What is the most popular hike in Sedona?
It’s probably a tie between the popular 3.9-mile Devil’s Bridge Trail, which most reasonably fit folks can do, and the slightly more challenging—albeit shorter—Cathedral Rock Trail.
What’s the most difficult hike in Sedona?
Bear Mountain is widely considered the most challenging trek in the area. It’s not something you’d want to try without the proper gear and, of course, plenty of experience.
What should visitors not miss in Sedona?
The variety of different trails makes Sedona so special. In between hiking—maybe some mountain biking and a Jeep tour or two—don’t forget to carve out some time to walk around the cute downtown area, which is full of restaurants, bars, galleries and New Age shops.
When is the best time to visit Sedona?
Spring and fall present the most consistent, comfortable weather. It gets super hot in the summer, while winter offers a mixed bag of pleasant days and occasional precipitation (yes, it even snows sometimes) but also fewer tourists, which means plenty of room to roam and explore sans crowds.
1. DEVIL'S BRIDGE TRAIL
One of the most famous and frequented hikes in all of Sedona (and that’s saying something), the Devil’s Bridge Trail takes trekkers through some of the most cinematic scenery in Red Rock Country and ends with the largest natural sandstone arch in the area. With an elevation gain of 521 feet and a steep-ish climb to cap things off, it’s rated moderate. While pups on a leash are welcome, the final leg isn’t super pet-friendly. So that’s something to keep in mind. As is the fact that Devil’s Bridge Trail gets super busy and sunny (there’s almost no shade). Our advice? Go early.
2. CATHEDRAL ROCK TRAIL
Cathedral Rock is one of Sedona’s most prominent landmarks. Its visage graces travel brochures, postcards and guidebooks. So it’s no surprise that the 1.2-mile roundtrip hike to witness it ranks among the top-rated treks in the area. Despite the relatively short distance, the total elevation gain is about 740 feet. Along the way, you’ll encounter some steep sections that require near vertical climbing. We swear the views don’t disappoint! And if you’re into the spiritual side of things (when in Sedona, amirite?), it’s said that there’s an energy vortex at the saddle.
3. BOYNTON CANYON
Another deservedly popular Sedona hike, Boynton Canyon, located in Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, lures locals and out-of-towners alike with the promise of energy centers, Native American history and perspective-shifting vistas. The scenery is so gorgeous (especially in the fall when the leaves turn fiery hues) that 7.3 miles will fly by in the blink of an eye. Not really, but it does make the journey super pleasant. If you do need a break, just stop by the Enchantment Resort for some sustenance.
4. SOLDIER PASS TRAIL
As you can probably tell, the number of must-do routes starts to climb (sorry, we couldn’t resist the hiking pun) fairly quickly. Soldier Pass Trail is yet another you don’t want to miss. This 4.5-mile loop with a total elevation gain of 620 feet truly puts the wonder of Mother Nature front and center. Jaw-dropping geologic features include a massive sinkhole called Devil’s Kitchen and the beautiful Seven Sacred Pools, which are fed by a seasonal stream and remain a sacred site for local indigenous people.
5. BEAR MOUNTAIN
Not for the faint of heart or folks who aren’t super fit and experienced trekkers, Bear Mountain is by most accounts the most challenging hike in Sedona. We’ve heard the words exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping and chest-pounding thrown around to describe this strenuous 4.9-mile trail. It’s not the distance, but rather the substantial 1,975 feet elevation gain that gets most people. If all that sounds manageable, your future could be filled with switchbacks and climbing as well as sweeping panoramas of extinct volcanoes and snow-capped peaks.
6. FAY CANYON TRAIL
New to the whole hiking thing? Or, maybe, it’s just that you’re saving your legs to do a few successive days of trekking. Either way, Fay Canyon Trail is one route that’s easy and enjoyable for just about everyone, including furry friends as long as they’re kept on a leash. It’s 2.6 miles of interesting rock formations—notably the famous Fay Canyon Arch—sandstone walls, cliffs and desert plants with minimal elevation gain, good canopy coverage and ample shade.
7. BELL ROCK PATHWAY
You can spot Bell Rock from Highway 179. For an even better view of this incredible natural landmark, hit the Bell Rock Pathway, a relatively easy 3.6-mile out-and-back that’s suitable for all skill levels and doesn’t skimp on photogenic scenery. Simply put: fans of leisurely hikes and scenic viewpoints should add this popular trek to the itinerary. A quick note before heading out, be aware that a Red Rock Pass is required for both trailheads.
8. AIRPORT MESA TRAIL
The Airport Mesa Trail (also known as the Airport Loop Trail) is a 3.2-mile loop that treats trekkers to striking vistas of Wilson Mountain, Capitol Butte and West Sedona. Because the terrain is quite rocky and some sections of the route are a bit tricky, it’s not your best bet for kiddos. There’s almost no shade until the last mile. And the direct sunshine often makes for a scorching journey in the summer. Come prepared with a hat, SPF and plenty of water.
9. BROKEN ARROW TRAIL
Gorgeous red rock scenery and a guarantee that your legs won’t feel like jelly the next day...where do we sign up? Broken Arrow Trail is visually delightful and quite doable for most people. Devil's Dining Room Sinkhole, Chicken Point and Submarine Rock are just some of the formations that come into focus along the way. Because the trail is unshaded and popular, it can get hot in summer and tends to be busy. So plan accordingly.
10. OAK CREEK CANYON
Short, sweet and easy by Sedona standards, Oak Creek Canyon is the perfect starter hike and a total crowd-pleaser. This 1.3-mile heavily trafficked out-and-back trail features a tree-lined creek and little picnic area as well as fantastic views of Cathedral Rock and the Red Rock Crossing Vortex. It’s great if you don’t have a lot of trekking experience (perhaps, that’s the case for someone in your group) or need to take kiddos into account. Year-round accessibility and the fact that pups are welcome on a leash, well, that’s just a bonus in our book.
11. DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL
Short on time and don’t feel like getting super sweaty? It only takes approximately 90 minutes to tackle the beautiful and manageable, 1.5-mile Doe Mountain Trail. And, yet, the payoff rivals much longer, more challenging treks. Expect spectacular panoramas of Sedona’s famous red rock landscape. Look out for landmarks like Wilson Mountain, Boynton Canyon and Chimney Rock. PSA: the Doe Mountain Trail shares a parking lot with the Bear Mountain trailhead. So pay attention to signs or risk embarking on a journey you hadn’t anticipated.
12. BIRTHING CAVE HIKE
Spiritually swirls around Sedona. The Birthing Cave is a sacred site. Moderately easy and accessible for most travelers, the short trail to this magical spot doesn’t require too much exertion. (Though, if you do have some climbing experience that could come in handy to gain a different perspective.) Either way, the views are really pretty. Past visitors also report feeling a real sense of serenity and rejuvenation. We’re guessing the lack of cell phone service once you leave the trailhead has something to do with it.
13. TEACUP TRAIL
With so many awesome hikes in Sedona, the last thing you want is to overdo it on the first day and end up with jelly legs for the rest of the trip. On the flipside, you’re in Red Rock Country and seeing red rocks remains a top priority. The solution? Teacup Trail, an accessible and well-maintained 2.4-mile loop that delivers unparalleled views of Coffee Pot Rock. Proof that, when in Sedona, you certainly don’t have to toil for dazzling photos.
14. SUGARLOAF LOOP TRAIL
By now, we’re guessing you’re starting to notice that a lot of the best hikes in Sedona are actually on the easier side. Pretty reassuring, right? You don’t need to be an expert to commune with nature, soak in the stunning scenery and get some fresh air. Insert Sugarloaf Loop Trail. Reaching the summit of this well-marked, 1.9-mile loop with an elevation gain of 354 feet is easy and enjoyable.
15. WILSON MOUNTAIN TRAIL
We’re ending on a high and hard note. At 7,122 feet, Wilson Mountain is the tallest peak in the area. Wild and rugged like its namesake Richard Wilson, the notorious bear hunter who was killed by a grizzly in 1885, the quad-torching Wilson Mountain Trail stretches 11.5 miles and offers unbeatable views of Sedona and beyond. Got the skills and stamina? Bragging rights—and envy-inducing photos—are sure to follow.