Americas, Southwest

5 EPIC Sedona Hikes for Your Bucket List

5 EPIC Sedona Hikes for Your Bucket List

Sedona, Arizona is a magical destination that should be on every hiker’s bucket list. We were blown away by the beautiful red rock scenery and just how much the town had to offer. In addition to unbelievable hikes and mountain biking trails, Sedona has world-class spas, art galleries, and shopping.

Nestled between towering rock formations, Sedona is also just a hop, skip, and jump away from either Phoenix or Flagstaff, making it an easy, unforgettable day trip if you are in the area.

In this post, we will share with you our favorite Sedona hiking trails, parking tips, and packing guides for the perfect Arizona getaway!

How to get to Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is located just north of Phoenix, Arizona. You’ll likely fly into either Phoenix (PHX) or Flagstaff (FLG) and start your journey from there. You will want to have a car to get around since many destinations are spread out in typical Arizona fashion. We recommend using rentalcars.com to compare prices and snag the best deal.

Here are the distances and estimated drive times from major cities in Arizona:

  • Phoenix: 116 miles (2 hours)
  • Prescott: 67 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Flagstaff: 30 miles (1 hour)

From Sedona, you can easily extend your trip to other Arizona landmark destinations, like the Grand Canyon (2-hour drive).

View in Sedona, AZ

5 incredible Sedona hikes for your desert bucket list

1. Cathedral Rock

This is a gorgeous hike that is easily a favorite in the Sedona area — for good reason! The views at the top are stunning, especially at sunset. The trail begins as a gentle walk from the parking lot, but as you near the rock formation, you’ll find that it’s a steep, steep climb. There are some points where it requires a bit of scrambling, although nothing too technical. Since there is very little shade on this trail, it’s best done as an early morning (sunrise) or late evening (sunset) hike, which conveniently makes the views all the more worthwhile.

Cathedral Rock hike details

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 744 ft.
  • Length of time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead location: 34°49’30.7″N 111°47’18.3″W
  • Red Rock Pass required? Yes

2. Devil’s Bridge

Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in Sedona and arguably one of the most iconic hikes in the area. With amazing red rock views and, of course, an unforgettable photo op on top of the arch, it is definitely a popular hike! Be prepared to share it with others since you won’t be alone.

If you have a 4×4, you can technically drive down a wash path to park directly at the official Devil’s Bridge Trailhead. Assuming you don’t have a 4×4, you’ll park at either the Dry Creek Road trailhead or Mescal Trailhead located on Long Canyon Road. You’ll then hike the rest of the way in. Between the two trailheads, opt for the Mescal Trail since the Dry Creek Road Trail will take you along a mostly boring dirty road.

Devil’s Bridge hike details

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 4.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 564 ft.
  • Length of time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead location: 34.9028° N, 111.8138° W
  • Red Rock Pass required? Yes

3. Bell Rock

Bell Rock Hike in Sedona

We loved this Sedona hike! It is an easy loop trail that leads you to stunning red rock views near one of best identifiable rock formations when entering Sedona. (Hint: it looks like a bell! Yeah, we thought you could have guessed that.) There are tons of small trails that allow you to explore the whole area, including Courthouse Butte Loop, Bell Rock Pathway, and Bell Rock Trail. One of our best Sedona memories was watching the sunset cast a reddish glow across the valley while on this trail.

Bell Rock hike details

Fun fact: Bell Rock is purported to have strong vortex energy and is therefore one of Sedona’s most popular meditation sites.

What exactly is a Sedona vortex? According to Visit Sedona, Sedona vortexes are swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. Seeking these vortexes are certainly a “thing to do” in Sedona, and people from all around the world come to experience them.

 4. Soldier’s Pass

Yet another popular Sedona hike, Soldiers Pass is the perfect hike for those looking to explore natural features. On this trail, you’ll pass Devil’s Kitchen (a sink hole), Seven Sacred Pools, and Soldier’s Pass Arch. It can also easily be done with Brin Mesa Trail as a loop.

Soldier’s Pass hike details

  • Type: Out and back (or loop with Brin Mesa Trail)
  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 450 ft.
  • Length of time: 2.5-3hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead location: 34°53’03.4″N 111°47’01.8″W
  • Red Rock Pass required? Yes

5. Little Horse Trail

Little Horse Trail in Sedona, AZ

We wanted to include this trail because it is a little more off the beaten path as far as Sedona hikes go. When we hiked this trail, we found ourselves on long stretches with no one around save for the occasional mountain biker. The surrounding scenery was breathtaking too.

Little Horse Trail hike details

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 450 ft.
  • Length of time: 2.5-3hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead location: 34°49’07.0″N 111°46’16.9″W
  • Red Rock Pass required? Yes

What are the best sunset hikes in Sedona?

Sunset in Sedona is an unforgettable experience. For the best sunset views (at least in our humble opinion), check out these hikes:

  1. Cathedral Rock
  2. Devil’s Bridge
  3. Bell Rock

How does parking work for Sedona hikes?

Fees: If you plan to do a lot of hiking in Red Rock Country, you’ll want to get a Red Rock Pass which costs $5 per day or $15 for a week. Note: The fee is for the entire area, not per trailhead, so you can hop around on a single pass as long as the pass is still valid. You can buy the passes directly at the trailhead via vending machines (credit cards accepted).

Availability: Not going to lie, we had difficulty finding parking during peak times and had to rearrange our hiking plans based on where we could find a spot. The trailhead parking lots tend to be small and fill up quickly for the more popular trails. For the best chance at parking, arrive early or late especially on weekends. And, if all else fails, have a few backup trails in the area that you can try.

Tip: Planning to travel elsewhere? We recommend getting an interagency pass like America the Beautiful, which will cover most places in Sedona as well as entry into national parks like the Grand Canyon.

Sedona Bell Rock

What to pack for your Sedona hike

    1. Hiking boots: For a lot of these hikes, especially Cathedral Rock, you’ll want closed-toed hiking boots with good traction. Keep in mind that you’ll be in the desert, meaning lots of dust and rock. If you plan to do hikes like Cathedral Rock, there’s also a good chance you’ll be doing a bit of light scrambling. We recommend brands such as Columbia, Salomon, and Teva for hiking shoes.
    2. Water bottle: We can’t emphasize this enough — staying hydrated is so important in the desert! You’ll want something that can keep your drink cold, like a Yeti or Hydroflask. Better yet, use a Camelbak with a water pouch to keep your hands free (yes, we will always RAVE about ours when get the chance! Best. Hiking. Purchase. Ever.).
    3. Sun protection: With desert hiking, you’ll want to make sure you are adequately protected from the sun. Bring tons of sunscreen. Our favorite is the toxin-free, reef-friendly Sun Bum. You’ll also a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of your favorite sunglasses.
    4. Dust protection: This one’s a bit more optional, but we’ve said before how much we love having a buff for hiking. Desert hiking presents yet another perfect use case for buffs: keeping the dust out of your face!
    5. Moisture-wicking clothes: It gets HOT in Sedona, and chances are you will be working up a sweat on your hike! Avoid cotton clothing, and stick for quick-drying material. Look for clothes like this 3/4-sleeve hiking shirt that are light, quick-drying, and even offer SPF protection. (You’ll be surprised how the right longer sleeved shirts can actually be better for desert hiking, despite how counter intuitive that might seem.)

Tips for hiking in Sedona

  • Always practice  Leave No Trace when spending time outdoors.
  • Bring LOTS of water. You’ll be desert hiking! As a rule of thumb, in the desert, plan for 1 liter per 1 hour of hiking. (For more hydration basics, check out this great post by REI.)
  • Start early or late to avoid crowds and the heat.
  • Watch out for mountain bikers on trails. Mountain biking is especially popular in Sedona so don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing the trail with them!
  • For wildflowers, you’ll want to time your visit between March through May. Common wildflowers include blooms of claret cup cactus, Indian paintbrush, prickly pear, beavertail, and strawberry hedgehog cactus. As a plus, spring also brings beautiful hiking weather. We especially love Arizona in March.

Summary

Sedona is a hub for outdoor lovers and photographers, with miles of hiking trails, mountain biking galore, the best sunrises and sunsets, and stunning scenery. Of course, we couldn’t go to Sedona without getting our hike on. We think the best Sedona hikes are:

  1. Cathedral Rock
  2. Devil’s Bridge
  3. Bell Rock
  4. Soldier’s Pass
  5. Little Horse Trail

Remember, you’ll be hiking in the desert so pack accordingly and bring lots of water and sunscreen. Sedona is truly magical, and you are bound to have an unforgettable experience.

Now, what are your favorite Sedona hikes? Share with us in the comments, and let us know what we need to explore next!

Incredible hikes you can't miss in Sedona, Arizona

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