Best Hikes in Sedona
Sedona, the “Red Rocks Country,” is nothing short of a hikers paradise. In addition to some iconic rock formations, vortexes and amazing trails, no wonder you will be pleased to find some of the United States’ best hikes in Sedona itself.
Lying in the state of Arizona, Sedona is as beautiful as it’s name sounds. Most noteworthy is the fact that it’s a place to spill your outdoor adventure bug with amazing opportunities to explore. Also, the massive red rocks jutting out from the ground provide both a spectacular view and outdoor adventure sitings.
You can go on hikes, also do mountaineering, rock climbing and what-not being in Sedona. And how about healing yourself spiritually and mentally?
Let’s take a look at some of the best hikes in Sedona. Go and have the time of your life!
- 1 Red Rock Crossing
- 2 Devil’s Bridge
- 3 Cookstove
- 4 Oak Creek Canyon – West Fork Trail
- 5 Bell Rock
- 6 Cathedral Rock
- 7 Fay Canyon
- 8 Sedona’s Map
- 9 Other Outdoor Activities
- 9.1 Motorcycling /ATV-ing
- 9.2 Biking
- 9.3 Rock Climbing
- 9.4 Rafting/ Kayaking
- 10 Vortex Site
- 11 Outdoor Festivals in Sedona
Red Rock Crossing
Starting with the easiest of all, Red Rock Crossing is definitely the visitors’ charm. Furthermore, with two swimming holes and a lake along with the magnificent view of the Cathedral Rock, consider Red Rock when you are in the mood for a short day hike with the family.
Level: Beginner (easy)
Distance: 2 miles
Duration: 2 hours
Entrance Fee: $10
Location: Red Rock Crossing Rd (See directions)
One of the best hikes in Sedona, Red Rocks Crossing is the place where you will get that iconic shot of the red rocks in the backdrop and a stream running in front. And honestly speaking this is literally the easiest of all Sedona hikes and also being one of the least crowded.
Also, the hike runs along the stream on a paved path with trees sidelining the walk. In addition to this, you will come across some grassy fields along the way where you can rest, have a picnic and enjoy the amazing view of the S rocks. Also, getting to the swimming holes is the fun part where you can have a dip and beat the heat.
Eventually, in the end, you will be rewarded with the magnificent sight of Cathedral Rocks and the creek
To be honest, there is nothing devilish about the Devil’s Bridge hike trail in Sedona. It’s rather the notorious roads and the highly rugged terrain that earned the infamous name. Devil’s Bridge, on the other hand, is one of the best hikes in Sedona without a second thought.
Level: Beginner (Moderate)
Distance: 3.8 miles round-trip
Fee: A $5 day pass
Location: Dry Creek Rd Sedona (See directions)
Devil’s Bridge sports the few arches near Sedona along with Vultee Arch and Fay Canyon Arch. In fact, the Devil’s Bridge arch (Yes, it’s an arch, not a bridge!) is the most viewed of all and a signature spot to the whole hike.
There are two routes to take for this hike. One is to take the Dry Creek Road and hike for about 0.8 miles for the Devil’s Bridge, while the other is to start at Long Canyon Trailhead. However, both the trails are quite similar so you won’t miss out on anything while not being on the other!
The hike is quite easy at the start due to hiking along mostly the leveled roads. In the end, finally, the terrain is quite steep to get up to the arch. Consequently, overall the hike is a moderate one and you can treat it as a day hike. Also, you will come close to some jaw-dropping scenery and an amazing view of the Sedona rocks.
A little gem situated in Sedona, Cookstove is probably one of the least known hike trails due to its difficulty level. However, this 1.4-mile trail presents a majestic view of the beautiful wildflowers and oak tree forests. The best month to visit is from April until November for all skill levels.
Distance: 1.4 miles round trip
Elevation change: 800 ft.
Duration: 1.5 hours (roundtrip)
Do not go on the short numbers of the duration; the hike is quite a challenge with considerably steep elevations. It requires you to climb for about 0.7 miles and gradually gaining 800ft of elevation. And most noteworthy is the fact that the trail will no doubt reward you with the beautiful scenery and a chance to explore some rare flora and fauna.
In addition to hiking, Cookstove is famous for birdwatching also, amidst the serene and peaceful Oak Creek Canyon trail. Also, if you are an advanced level hiker then do not overlook this trail. This is one of the best hikes in Sedona.
Oak Creek Canyon – West Fork Trail
Not only has West Fork Trail earned its position in one of the best hikes in Sedona but it also comes in some of the bests in the United States. You will witness yourself surrounded by oak trees and streams all along the way. Although it won’t come as a surprise if you happen to cross a stream using stepping stones and logs.
Distance: 6.4 miles round trip
Duration: Can be modified from day hike to an overnight one
Fee: $10 per car
Location: West Fork Oak Creek Trail Parking Lot (See Directions)
You will notice the steep canyon walls and the thick wood cover is making the heat much bearable throughout. The much pleasant mix of hues will make it all the more remarkable and let you gasp at the amazing wonders. Colorful wildflowers, trees, birds alongside the small river streams and the red rocks will make you want to come here again.
Take care of the stepping stones you will use while crossing the streams as they can be quite slippery. The trail ends with huge canyon walls towering in on you and a pool of water. You can travel further 11 miles but will require some advanced skills like boulder hopping, and wading along with swimming in some areas.
It won’t take a genius mind to realize why Bell Rock’s name is Bell Rock. The shape looks like a giant red bell kept on the earth, hence the name. Also, for obvious reasons it is a photographer’s muse.
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
Duration: 1.5 hours round trip
Elevation: 4000 ft.
Fee: Day pass- $5
Location: Courthouse Vista Parking Lot (See Directions)
The trail overall is quite short, but the climb is steep at the end with an elevation gain of 318 feet. In addition to hiking, Bell Rock is also famous for rock climbing activities and witnesses quite a lot of enthusiasts year round.
Also, there are three trails from where the Bell Rock can be accessed- Bell Rock Pathway, Bell Rock Trail and Courthouse Butte Loop. Out of the three, most noteworthy is the Bell Rock pathway as it gives a spectacular view of the bell itself and the vast area around.
Additionally, if you can, then climb all the way to the top of the bell and enjoy your hike!
The list of best hikes in Sedona is probably incomplete without mentioning the Cathedral Rock. The trail is quite short of about 0.7 miles but offers spectacular and the most iconic views Sedona has to offer. Also, the initial trail is relatively flat but then gains an elevation of about 600ft that puts the label of “difficult” on this trail.
Distance: 1.4 miles round trip
Location: Back ‘O Beyond Road (See Directions)
The trail is quite famous among the climbers as well because the in between you will come across a near vertical section that requires climbing. Therefore, people not comfortable with climbing are advised not to choose this trail. In the end, you will come across a plateau with relatively steep ends. Also, you can do a little more exploring, but that is the completion mark of the hike. Especially relevant is the fact that the hike should be taken in the afternoon for shade in majority areas.
To beat the Arizona sun, Fay Canyon is your best hike for a tinge of cool and greenery. Also, you will be hiking in a thick shade of trees and large mountain walls. Furthermore, you will come across a breathtaking waterfall and loads of green cover in Fay Canyon.
Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
Location: Boynton Pass Road (See Directions)
This hiking trail is quite an easy one with an elevation hike of just 150ft, instantly making it an ideal day hike for a beginner. Finally, the trail ends with the Canyon dividing from where you can do a short and quick climb all the way to the top for an amazing view.
In addition to this lookout for the iconic Bell Rock in the distance. Also, do not forget to take your camera along as you will encounter some terrific sites for photography.
You will encounter a beautiful river and amazing vistas when hiking on Soldiers Pass. The 4-mile loop trail is labeled as a moderate level hike and should be started quite early in the day.
Level: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Fee: Red Rock Day Pass for $5
Location: Soldier’s Pass Trailhead (See Directions)
The Soldier’s Pass hike is relatively quite easy in the start where you need to go downhill for the majority part. You will come across some beautiful sites along the way including the two iconic arches, including the Soldier’s Arch. Also, look out for the much famous Seven Sacred Pools where you can stop and enjoy for some time. The major attraction is the Devil’s Kitchen, the largest sinkhole in Sedona.
Take a look at the Sedona’s map that will provide you with much information regarding the main trailheads, canyons, mountains, and roads. It will help you to plan your activities when in Sedona.
Other Outdoor Activities
Sedona is a place where life happens outdoors! Furthermore, surrounded by 1.8 million acres of forest cover along with the beautiful red rocks jutting outwards and some soothing lakes, Sedona present a magnificent blend of hues.
I walked you through the best hikes in Sedona, but there are other outdoor activities ready to complete your holiday. Also, it is land that attracts fitness freaks, hikers, and photographs, Sedona presents some amazing opportunities to spend your day outside.
In addition to hiking, the best way to start a day fresh in Sedona is by getting a rental motorcycle or ATV and go on your adventure. There are many well-designed trails especially for ATV-ing your way through the red rocks.
Moderate to Difficult
This trail will allow you to your vehicle for about 4 hours covering a distance of about 14.2 miles. The trail is relatively short but will allow you to experience the beautiful landscapes and the rugged terrain. The elevation change is from 3,764 ft. to 4,112 ft.
It will lead you to a historic stone cabin along with the spectacular Oak Creek.
Moderate to Difficult
The Broken Arrow is one of the most popular trails for ATV-ng or the jeep tours. The total time taken to cover can be modified accordingly from 4hrs to 8hrs depending on the trail. Have a look at the amazing red rock structures you pass and the rugged trail that makes driving thrilling.
Be sure to take a camera with yourself as you will have some spectacular things to see during the 28.7-mile trail.
Oak Creek Homestead
Moderate to Difficult
Just like the House Mountain Trail, Oak Creek Homestead is a short trail of about 14.2 miles that takes about 4 hours of time for completion. You will come across a rocky shelf road, Cliffhanger, beautiful stone cabin. The trail ends about 0.5 miles from the river so that you do not cross the Oak Creek boundary.
Remember to take your camera to capture the amazing scenery.
Sedona is a land of outdoor fun! In addition to boasting about the best hikes in Sedona, biking is one activity that notices a good amount of craze here. There are more than 200 mountain biking trails and let’s not even start talking about the much sought after The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival! Furthermore, let’s take a look at some recommended trails.
Note: The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival will be covered in a later section.
Sedona Bike Park
The Sedona Bike Park offers various opportunities to bike enthusiasts of all skill levels. Yet, you must adhere to the park rules and take things into consideration. Take care of yourself and the fellow bikers while enjoying your day.
Technical Ability: Intermediate, Advanced
The park has various trails and remains open till the evening. Enjoying in the park itself can take up your full days time.
Most noteworthy is the fact that without mentioning the Hangover, no list can ever be complete. The Hangover trail is the most jaw-dropping trail that will kick-start your adrenaline like never before. In addition to the rugged of all terrains, you will come across some drop dead thrilling drops and the steepest of all climb. Therefore, it’s quite obvious to say that do not travel on this trail alone!
Technical Ability: EXTREME
Bell Rock Pathway
First of all, beginners do not be disheartened as the Bell Rock Pathway is specially made for you. You can ride here for your leisure time and is perfect for family outings. Also, the trail is quite smooth and will not advanced level difficulties. Probably this is the easiest bike trail Sedona could give you.
Technical Ability: Beginner
What else can Sedona not give to its travelers? The United States has its best hikes in Sedona, biking trails and now rock climbing opportunities too! Yes, the red rock mountains are quite famous in the climbers’ communities. The climbing activities include bouldering, trad climbing, and mountaineering.
Desert and Rock Climbing is a deadly combination, and Mars Attacks is exactly that. Not regarding difficulties but in the quality of climbing.
Type of Climbing: Trad, 4 pitches, Grade II
Difficulty Rating: 5.9
For more information click here
Dr. Rubo’s Wild Ride
The climb at Dr. Rubo’s Wild Ride can be quite a fun-filled activity of your day. With amazing boulders and rocks, it is not a too difficult climb to rank.
Difficulty Level: 5.9
Type of Climbing: Trad, 4 pitches, 300 ft, grade III
For more information click here
North Face is Sedona’s favorite rock climb famously known as the “Rabbit Ears.” Visit this site to complete your journey of adventures after exploring the best hikes in Sedona.
Difficulty Level: 5.10a
Type of Climbing: Trad, 3 pitches, 250 ft
For more information click here
Sedona has some amazing opportunities to offer the water-sport enthusiasts. Go on some of the best hikes in Sedona, while beating the heat softly kayaking through the relaxing rivers surrounded by the amazing landscape. In addition, raft through the Verde and Colorado river to explore the Arizona state.
Take a look at the two rivers famous for kayaking and river rafting.
The Verde River
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Difficulty level: Easy
The Verde river offers a spectacular view of Sedona immersed in colorful hues and full of life. Also, you will get a chance to catch a glimpse of some of the rarest of animals species like the blue heron, black hawks, black bears, golden eagles coyotes, and mule deer.
Depending on the weather and water current, visitors can enjoy soft paddling or kayaking in the river. River rafting is more rigorous activity and might be weather dependent.
Also, you can choose to go on a guided tour or if confident enough, independently raft or kayak in the Verde River.
The Colorado River
Duration: Full day
Difficulty level: Moderate
Colorado River flows through much of the Southwest Arizona, of which Lake Powell is a part. The river flows right next to the Grand Canyon, so brace yourself for some spectacular views throughout the journey. What’s amazing is that you can get a helicopter ride from Grand Canyon to have a breathtaking view from the top.
Just like Verde River, Colorado River also presents good opportunities to raft and kayak.
It might be a little surprise to know that Sedona is not all about the adrenaline pumping and heart racing. In addition to finding the best hikes in Sedona, some mountaineering and kayaking opportunities too, it’s a popular vortex site.
First of all, not many people are aware of what a vortex is and usually overlook this aspect of Sedona. But delving into the concept just a little deeper it might interest you a bit.
Note: Vortex sites are more of a theoretical phenomenon rather than a scientific fact. Some believers claim its existence while some don’t. Sedona is a popular vortex site, and you will stumble upon various vortex tours as well. In the end, it’s all about your personal choice and faith.
What is a vortex?
Vortex is a site of strong transformational energy known to heal one spiritually and mentally. Scientifically speaking, these powerful energy centers are intersections of Earth’s electromagnetic radiations(ley lines) known to dissipate some kind of energy.
The vortex sites are quite popular amongst those on the path of a spiritual journey to get inspired, release stress, peace of mind and get healed mentally.
Sedona’s Vortex Sites
The best-known vortex sites of Sedona known to the world are:
- Airport Mesa
- Bell Rock
- Cathedral Rock
- Boynton Canyon
One thing especially relevant is the fact that it’s not just these four sites in Sedona known for vortexing. Most of all, the whole of the Sedona is a big vortex, but on the particular four sites, the energy center is the most powerful.
While on these best hikes in Sedona you will notice people performing yoga or meditating. That’s probably because they are there for their spiritual tour and feel connected. It’s of utmost importance to respect the fellow hikers in all aspects.
Outdoor Festivals in Sedona
Since we have talked about vortexing, biking, rafting and some of the best hikes in Sedona, it’s time to shuft on to the two most popular outdoor festivals you can witness in Sedona.
In addition to these two, there are events happening in Sedona all year round. Take a look at them here.
Sedona Mountain Bike Festival
The Sedona Mountain Bike Festival happens every year in March first week. This 3-day mountain bike festival is all needed for your Sedona holiday. The events include Main Expo/Festival, Bike Demos, Shuttled Rides, a Beer Garden, and Bands for all three nights in addition to the fact that you can bike all day long.
Many companies get their demo bikes for promotion in this mountain bike festival by giving it for use to the participants. Mostly you will be allowed to use the bike for about an hour or two, depending on the vendor.
The list of exhibitors is long but to mention some:
For Sedona Mountain Bike Festival you can camp at Chavez Crossing Group Campground just about bout 5 miles from the event. The ground can hold up to 80 campers, and you need to book your tent spot before the event.
The way from the campground to the tent holds amazing lanes for you to bike your way to the event. The camp will even include breakfast for the campers on particular days.
For more information and booking, click here.
Other Camp Sites
If you do not wish to camp at the Chavez Crossing Group Campground, there are other sites to camp as well. In addition to being one of the best hikes in Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon offers amazing camping opportunities for the event. Camping here is relatively cheap ranging from $15-$18 only.
All four provide remarkable camping sites for you to stay. The camping style is primitive, likewise, there will not be any amenity of washrooms or food. In addition to this, campfires are a big no-no. For something different than this you can choose to camp at Cave Springs Campground which will provide you with the option of cooking and campfires.
For all the camping sites, registration needs to be done prior to the main event.
If you do not manage to find a spot in any of the campgrounds or do not wish to stay in tents, you can book some private cottages for yourself. Enjoy living in the luxury of Sedona while staying connected to the red rock vibe.
Check out some lodging facilities here.
Note: Some of the most popular trails are there in the biking section of other outdoor activities.
In addition to the best hikes in Sedona, it is quite popular for biking too. Most of all Sedona boasts over 200 trails for biking for all levels. Also, most noteworthy is the fact that from 2018 the trail maps have gone digital and can be accessed through the mobile phones itself.
Some of the most famous trail paths are:
- Hangover Trail
- The “Hogs” Area
- Mescal – Aerie – Cockscomb
- Broken Arrow
A lot of shuttle services are available for the specific trails. Do your research and pre-book the shuttle.
For more information regarding the timings and bookings, click here.
Beer Garden, Bands, and Food
The bike festival has everything needed for the entertainment as well. From fantastic beer gardens to some amazing bands to keep you engaged, the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival has it all. Also, some lip-smacking food from the incredible food trucks to serve you.
The 2018 festival was a giant success, and now we have our eyes set on, as much as, 2019 as well.
The RunSedona festival will take place on Saturday, February 2, 2019. The main events of the festival are 5k, 10k, half marathon lengths distance running. Following this will be a Race Expo, Pasta Dinner, and Awards Celebration.
10k and 5k
The run covers beautiful landscapes and Sedona vibe. The 10k and 5k run is perfect for a whole family or a group of friends to run together and have fun. It takes place at the Dry Creek Road on 5th February 2019.
The time limit for both the activities is 5.5 hours where aid stations are located on every 2 miles to supply water, food and first-aid.
But, first of all, to participate in the run, you will have to register through an online portal.
Half Marathon is one of the most wonderful runs you can experience in Sedona. You will be running through a variety of terrains with the most spectacular views. Furthermore, you will pass through some of the best hikes in Sedona, running along the paved Dry Creek Road.
Just like the 5k and 10k runs, the time limit here is also 5.5 hours and aid stations are set up every two miles. RunSedona’s half marathon is an experience on its own.
Exhibitors will come to RunSedona to promote their products with the event participants. The expo took place at Posse Grounds Park for 2018. Therefore, from simple products to performance gear like clothes, everything will be available at the expo like T-shirts and footwear.
As a result, if you are passionate about running, RunSedona is the festival you need to look forward to.
Sedona is the place for your 2019 holiday. You get to see the best hikes in Sedona, also the biking festival, running festival, outdoor adventure activities and what-not. Be at Sedona and probably live the life of your dreams.