The 7 Best Hikes in Sedona

With more than 100 trails winding past red rocks, climbing to mountaintop vistas, and meandering along creeks, Sedona has some of the best hiking in the Southwest. While some of these routes are ideal for families looking to explore the area, others offer the challenge of scrambling over sandstone surfaces to watch the dawn or sunset over spectacular rock formations. A Red Rock Pass is required for several activities.

Vending machines at prominent trailheads, the Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center, local visitor bureaus, outfitters, grocery stores, gas stations, motels, and businesses all sell the Red Rock Pass. A day pass costs $5, a weekly pass costs $15, and an annual pass costs $20.

Bring one liter of water per person for each hour you anticipate spending on the trail—summer temperatures in Sedona can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit—and wear closed-toe shoes. On most routes, dogs on leashes are allowed (unleased pets face high fines), but if you plan to bring your dog, avoid hikes that require scrambling up sandstone. Even expert dog hikers have difficulty with it.

One can’t go wrong with any path, based on your fitness level and the amount of time you choose to spend on it. Don’t know where to begin?

We’ve compiled a list of the top 7 walks to take in this breathtaking scenery.

1. Soldiers Pass Trail

Although this 4.7-mile, extensive loop starts in a suburb, it only takes a quarter-mile to reach Devils Kitchen, the largest of Sedona’s seven sinkholes. The trail then climbs to the top of Brins Mesa, where you can see Sedona to the south and the Mogollon Rim to the north, passing through the Seven Sacred Pools, which are water-filled cavities in the sandstone. Return to your car long before 6 p.m., when the trail’s parking lot gates are locked by the forest service.

2. Boynton Canyon Trail

This out-and-back trek borders the Enchantment Resort before entering into a forested box canyon that many think is a vortex and is easily accessible from paved highways. Keep a watch out for javelina and other wildlife, and don’t be shocked that people meditate in the canyon or attempt to tap into the vortex’s healing energy. Even though Boynton Canyon Trail is one of Sedona’s most popular walks, you’re likely to meet native species along the way. The hike is an easy 6 kilometers if you forgo the side route that leads to a not-so-secret cave around the halfway mark.

3. Devil’s Bridge Trail

One of Sedona’s most famous out-and-back hikes leads to a 50-foot-high natural sandstone arch. But if you have a high-clearance car and can park at the Dry Creek Lot, park along with Dry Creek or Long Canyon roads and access trailheads from there. The hike is straightforward in any scenario until the final section, which entails a tough ascent up a steep natural stairway. The 400-foot elevation gain rewards you with breathtaking valley views and Instagram-worthy photographs of you and your fellow hikers on the arch. Plan to hike 4 to 6 miles depending on where you park.

4. Turkey Creek Trail

This tough 6-mile track cuts through the red terrain west of Oak Creek Village and is substantially less traveled than other popular walks.

The first portion softly ascends and descends to Turkey Creek Tank, then crosses Turkey Creek, which is normally dry and continues a slow rise. Relatively steep switchbacks ascend to the top of House Mountain, an extinct volcano with panoramic views, in just over 2 miles.

Further “hidden” treks, such as Turkey Creek Trail, are listed on Visit Sedona, where you’re more likely to run into locals than other tourists. Trails such as Schuerman Mountain, Baldwin, and Jacks Canyon are also available.

5. Cathedral Rock Trail

This hard climb up the side of Cathedral Rock is considered ideal for physically fit hikers who aren’t terrified of heights due to nearly vertical ascents near the end. The sights are worth the 1 1/2-mile, 650-foot elevation increase for those who can manage it. Because there is no shade in the morning, wait until the afternoon to lace up your hiking boots and tackle the path. Alternatively, go right before sunset. As the sky shifts from yellows and oranges to reds and purples, you’ll be entranced from your vantage point here.

6. Lower Chimney Rock Loop

This popular trail, with a 375-foot elevation change, loops around the base of Chimney Rock in slightly over 1 1/2 miles. It’s especially beautiful during wildflower season, which runs from March to early May. For a more intense workout, look for the optional trail to the summit. Lower Chimney Rock, Thunder Mountain, and Andante paths connect to provide you with the choice of extending your hike or adding a challenge. Continuing until you reach Lower Chimney Rock Trail and, instead of just ringing Chimney Rock, around the base of the nearby formation for a total of about 3 miles, is a popular way to extend your trip.

7. West Fork Trail

Try West Fork Trail for a change of scenery. This 7 1/2-mile trip along the west fork of Oak Creek down a steep canyon until you can’t go any further without wading through the river (an option for another quarter of a mile). You may wish to carry a printed map because cell connection is patchy, and parking in the small lot ($11) can be difficult. Instead, drive another half mile to a side street where you can park and pay the $2 admission fee to enter the day-use area.

Oladotun Olayemi
Oladotun Olayemi
Dotun is a content enthusiast who specializes in first-in-class content, including finance, travel, crypto, blockchain, market, and business to educate and inform readers.

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