The 12 Best Hikes in Sedona

Silhouette of female hiker in Sedona
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Sedona boasts some of the best hiking in the Southwest with more than 100 trails that wind past red rocks, climb to mountaintop overlooks and meander along creeks. While some of these trails are perfect for families who want to explore the unique landscape, others offer the challenge of scrambling over sandstone surfaces to watch the sunrise or sunset over incredible rock formations. Many require a Red Rock Pass.

A Red Rock Pass can be purchased from vending machines at popular trailheads, the Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center, local visitor bureaus, outfitters, grocery stores, gas stations, resorts, and retailers. You can purchase a daily pass ($5), weekly pass ($15), or annual pass ($20).

For the best experience, bring one liter of water per person for every hour you plan to be on the trail—temperatures in Sedona top 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer—and wear closed-toe shoes. Dogs on a leash are permitted on most trails (there are steep fines for unleased dogs), but if you plan to bring your companion, avoid hikes requiring scrambling up the sandstone. Even experienced canine hikers often struggle with it. 

Depending on your fitness level and how much time you want to spend on the trail, you can’t go wrong no matter which trail you choose. Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up the 12 best hikes to experience this incredible landscape. 

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Soldiers Pass Trail

Soldiers Pass

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Although this 4.7-mile, heavily-trafficked loop begins in a neighborhood, you’ll find yourself at Devils Kitchen, the largest of Sedona’s seven sinkholes, within a quarter-mile. From there, the trail continues past the Seven Sacred Pools—water-filled holes in the sandstone—and climbs to the top of Brins Mesa, where you can see Sedona to the south and the Mogollon Rim to the north. Time your hike to return to your car well before 6 p.m. when the forest service locks the gates to the trail’s parking lot. 

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Boynton Canyon Trail

Boynton Canyon Trail

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Easily accessible from paved roads, this out-and-back trail skirts the Enchantment Resort before heading into a forested box canyon that many believe is a vortex. Don’t be surprised to find people meditating in the canyon or trying to tap into the vortex’s healing energy, and keep an eye out for javelina and other wildlife. Even though Boynton Canyon Trail is one of Sedona's most popular hikes, you're likely to see native species as you trek through the area. If you skip the side trail at about the halfway point that leads to a not-so-secret cave, the hike totals an easy 6 miles.

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Devil’s Bridge Trail

Devils Bridge

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This out-and-back trek to a 50-foot-high natural sandstone arch is one of the most popular in Sedona. Park along Dry Creek or Long Canyon roads and access trailheads there unless you have a high-clearance vehicle and can park at the Dry Creek Lot. Either way, the hike is easy until the last stretch, which requires a strenuous climb up a steep, natural staircase. The 400-foot elevation change rewards with spectacular views of the valley and Instagram-worthy photos of you and your fellow hikers on the arch. Depending on where you park, expect to hike 4 to 6 miles.

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Turkey Creek Trail

Sedona trail

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Cutting through the red terrain west of the Village of Oak Creek, this challenging 6-mile trail is much less trafficked than other popular hikes. The first section rolls gently up and down to Turkey Creek Tank, then crosses the usually dry Turkey Creek, and begins a gradual climb. At just over 2 miles, moderately steep switchbacks lead to the top of House Mountain, an extinct volcano with panoramic views.

Visit Sedona lists additional "secret" hikes like Turkey Creek Trail, where you're more likely to run into locals than other tourists here. Other options include Schuerman Mountain, Baldwin, and Jacks Canyon trails.

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Cathedral Rock Trail

Cathedral Rock

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Nearly vertical ascents near the end of the trail make this strenuous hike up the side of Cathedral Rock best suited for physically fit hikers who aren’t afraid of heights. But for those who can manage 1 1/2-mile, 650-foot elevation gain, the views are worth the effort. Wait until the afternoon to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail since there’s no shade in the morning. Or, better yet, go just before sunset. You'll be mesmerized from your vantage point here as the sky slips from yellows and oranges to reds and purples.

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Lower Chimney Rock Loop

Chimney Rock

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This heavily-used trail with a 375-foot elevation change makes an easy loop just over 1 1/2 miles around the base of Chimney Rock. It is particularly spectacular during wildflower season, March through early May. Watch for the optional trail to the summit for more of a workout. Connecting trails, including Lower Chimney Rock, Thunder Mountain, and Andante trails, give you the option to extend your hike or add some challenge. A popular way to extend your hike is to continue until you come to Lower Chimney Rock Trail and, instead of just looping Chimney Rock, circling the base of the adjacent formation, too, for a total of nearly 3 miles.

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West Fork Trail

West Fork

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For a change of scenery, try West Fork Trail. This 7 1/2-mile hike follows the west fork of Oak Creek through a steep canyon until its walls close in on you and you can’t continue without wading through the water (an option for another quarter of a mile). Cell reception is spotty so you may want to bring a printed map, and parking at the small lot ($11) can be a hassle. Instead, continue another half a mile to where you can park along the side of the road, and pay the $2 admission fee to enter the day use area.

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Doe Mountain Trail

Doe Mountain

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Another favorite for spring wildflower viewing, the 1 1/2-mile Doe Mountain Trail switchbacks 460 feet to the top of a mesa. It’s definitely a challenge—think along the lines of a Stairmaster workout—but rewards with views of Chimney Rock, Bear Mountain, Boynton Canyon, Cockscomb, the city of Sedona, and other landmarks. Come early for the sunrise or wait until sunset for even more spectacular scenery. The hike can be extended by adding the Doe Mountain Loop Trail when you reach the top of the mesa. 

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Birthing Cave Hike

Birthing Cave

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This lesser-known hike to a heart-shaped cave where Hopi women allegedly were sent to give birth starts at the Long Canyon Trailhead and continues half a mile to a fork. Take the left fork, which may appear blocked by branches but is accessible, and then almost the same distance to the cave’s base. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes for the difficult climb inside, and go early to avoid other hikers in your photographs. 

Since there is no cell service on much of this hike, you may want to screenshot directions before you go or bring a printed map.

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Bear Mountain Trail

Bear Mountain

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With an elevation gain of nearly 2,000 feet, Bear Mountain Trail is one of Sedona’s most difficult hikes. The 4.3-mile roundtrip hike starts easily enough with an easy trek across two washes, but as the trail nears the base of the mountain, it narrows and switchbacks steeply 450 feet towards the top. After leveling out again, the trail heads 500 feet up a narrow canyon, crosses a plateau and climbs another 400 feet. Take in views of Fay Canyon and the distant San Francisco Peaks from the top before returning the way you came.

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Courthouse Butte Loop

Courthouse Butte Loop

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A family-friendly hike with the chance to see wildlife, this 4-mile loop starts at the Bell Rock Trailhead and ascends slightly half a mile to its intersection with the Courthouse Butte Loop. Follow signs for the Courthouse Butte Loop through the Munds Mountain Wilderness and around Courthouse Butte. Two side trails give you the option to climb partially up the butte, but if you continue, you’ll round its backside, circle around Bell Rock, and end up where you initially picked up the trail. Backtrack to the parking lot. 

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Brins Mesa Trail

Brins Mesa Trail

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Unobstructed views of Coffee Pot Rock, Capitol Butte, Chimney Rock, and Wilson Mountain await on this 6-mile roundtrip hike into the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. Not to mention silence. Start at the Jim Thompson Trailhead, not far from Uptown Sedona, and watch for wildlife on your way to the mesa’s base. A natural rock staircase takes you to the mesa’s top. You don’t have to an expert hiker to manage the 700-foot elevation change on the hike, but some fitness helps.