A Hikers Guide to Sedona, Arizona and Surrounding Areas
Sedona, Arizona is truly a hikers paradise! With a wealth of trails to enjoy nature and the spectacular views in red rock country, visitors head out to explore the many trails in the Coconino National Forest, Sedona, Verde Valley and trails that explore the Mogollon Rim.
The spring and fall are still the most popular seasons to hike in the red rocks, but to tell you the truth I have enjoyed hiking during all the seasons. In the summer, I head out at sunrise and enjoy a mild hike and again a few hours before sunset I hit the trails. In the winter, afternoon hikes are a must, the sunshine heats up the trails and the most popular trails are less congested (I prefer Bell Rock Pathway in the colder months). Still, with that said the prime hiking seasons are spring and fall!
Below you will find trails for beginners through more seasoned, and serious, hikers throughout Sedona, the Coconino National Forest, and the Verde Valley with helpful tips, links and our favorite hiking websites. We of course have a few of our favorite hikes and guest’s favorites to share with you, and I am sure you will find a few favorites of your own. Have a great time exploring!
Please keep in mind a Red Rock Pass (or America The Beautiful Interagency Pass, Golden Age or Golden Access) is required when leaving your vehicle unattended while recreating on National Forest land around Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.
Coconino National Forest
The Coconino National Forest, one of six National Forest in Arizona, offers on of the largest varieties of landscape and beauty from the towering red rocks of Sedona to Ponderosa Pine Forests, to alpine tundra. Whatever difficulty level of hike or scenic wonders you want to experience you will find it here. Recreation and hiking information is divided into three Ranger Districts, just click on the area you are interested in hiking and see what awaits you! Before you hit the trail, visit the Coconino National Forest website for maps and information.
Red Rock State Park
Red Rock State Park is a family-oriented 5-mile network of trails with a diverse habitat of plants and wildlife. The Forest Service presents popular talks at the visitor’s center on the natural history of Sedona, and living with our wildlife neighbors. They also offer the following guided hikes and walks: Geology Hike, Moonlight Hikes, Bird Walks and Nature Walks. To see the Schedule of guided hikes please visit Red Rock State Park.
Our Favorite Hikes in Sedona, AZ and surrounding Areas
Bell Rock Pathway
This trail takes you on a scenic journey of the red rocks with panoramic views that can’t be beat. This hiking trail is marked as easy to moderate and there are other paths and trails that lead off the Pathway for you and your family to explore. The Pathway is about 7 miles round trip and it is important to remember it is not a loop. Keep that in mind while you are enjoying your hike and remember you have to hike back the distance you go in. You do not have to hike the entire pathway to enjoy some great views of the red rocks. As soon as you walk the first 10-15 minutes you will be close enough to feel the energy of Bell Rock and get some great views!
Directions: From the junction of Routes 89A and 179 in Sedona, take 179 south 3.6 miles to a paved turnout and trailhead parking on the left (east) at milepost 309.8 for the South trailhead, .2 miles south of the entrance to the United Methodist Church for the North trailhead. Visit our Bell Rock Pathway Photo Album.
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Boynton Canyon Trail
Boynton Canyon Trail is perfect for a morning hike. The Trail is 2.5 miles with a 400 foot gain in elevation. Because this is one of the more popular trails, I prefer this hike in the early morning. Often in the morning you will hear the sweet sound of the flute during this hike. This will put you at the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail (rated as easy to moderate with many rock steps up to the saddle of the vista), you will have to gauge this for yourself. If you continue on the Boynton Canyon trail you will be treated to some wonderful views, and some shade along the way. Keep an eye out for the area’s plentiful wildlife which includes a variety of lizards, songbirds, and I have heard, but not seen white tail deer. You will be skirting along the Enchantment resort during this hike. The Enchantment is a private resort, access is prohibited. You will also come across Deadmans Pass Trail that is a connector trail between the Long Canyon Trail and the Boynton Canyon Trail.
Directions: Take Dry Creek Road at the southwest end of town. Turn north (right) on Dry Creek Road and follow the signs to Boynton Canyon. You’ll find a parking lot and the trailhead just outside the entrance to the Enchantment Resort.
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Soldier Pass Trail
Okay this hike is great for all levels of hikers, with a whole network of trails to extend your hike and difficulty level. A camera is a must on this hike, the views are amazing as you go from the majestic red rocks into the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. Ultimately, scenic vistas can be enjoyed south into Sedona and north into the wilderness and the red cliffs of the Mogollon Rim. The trail dips to cross a wash then climbs out to the Devils Kitchen sinkhole just off the trail to the right at 1/4 miles. The trail then goes over level ground for 1/4 mile to the “Seven Sacred Pools” to the left of the trail.
Directions: From the junction of Routes 89A and 179, take 89A west 1.2 miles to Solider Pass Road on the right. Go 1.5 miles to Rim Shadows Drive, then right 0.2 miles (keep straight ahead where Rim Shadows branches left) to a gated entry road to trailhead parking on the left.
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Red Rock Crossing – Crescent Moon Picnic Site
Red Rock Crossing is one of the most popular places to take a leisurely hike and take some great photos of Cathedral Rock. The Crescent Moon Picnic Site offers pathways that take you to the crossing where Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek meet. There are Picnic Tables, grills and well maintained restrooms. Enjoy a little water play in Oak Creek, walk the pathways and visit Buddha Beach, considered to be the site of a powerful vortex. You will find a variety of rock cairns, last time I was there I was overwhelmed by the complexity of some.
Directions: Drive west from Sedona on US 89A. Just outside town, turn south on FR 216 (Upper Red Rock Loop Road). Drive about 1.5 miles and follow the signs to Red Rock Crossing. All roads except the short segment leading from Red Rock Crossing Road to the picnic area are paved.
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West Fork Oak Creek Trail
There are a number of reasons why West Fork is the most popular trail on the Coconino National Forest. You’ll know some of them once you’ve strolled beside the pleasant little stream that ripples along the canyon floor and look up, way up, at the dizzying cliffs that tower above it. There was a lot of talk that the West Fork Trail was very damaged by the fire last year, I assure you it is just as beautiful as before! This hike is most popular in the fall when vibrant colors take over the trail, but spring is also a great time for this hike, just keep in mind this hike will be cooler than the others, if you start early or late in the day you will want to dress in layers! I also highly suggest to bring your camera along.
To access the West Fork Oak Creek Trail drive north 9.5 miles from Sedona to about halfway between milepost 385 and 384. The trailhead is on the west (left) side of the highway. Visit our West Fork Trail photo album.
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Hiking at Walnut Canyon National Monument in Flagstaff
Carved by Walnut Creek over a period of 6 million years the canyon is twenty miles long, 400 feet deep and 1/4 a mile wide. The canyon offers two trails, the Rim Trail that takes you on an easy beautiful stroll above the rim of the canyon and the Island Trail that is more strenuous and descends 185 vertical feet into the canyon. if you can handle it, the Island Trail is the way to go! The Trail starts with a ramp type walkway down, then stairs taking you down further into the canyon where you will see cliff dwelling rooms along the trail with more visible across the canyon. The trail is paved making it a little easier to walk but I suggest if you have back problems, or a fear of heights, stick to the rim trail….Read More
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Dead Horse Ranch State Park (Cottonwood)
The beautiful park with the unfortunate name sits on over 400 acres in Cottonwood, Arizona and is right next to the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area. The temperatures at the park are often mild, due the park’s elevation, and make it an ideal place for outdoor activities. This state park is a short distance from Sedona and has numerous hiking trails, not to mention trails for mountain biking and horseback riding. You can even take along a nice picnic lunch for your family and take in the scenic view at any of the picnic tables around the park.
Directions from Sedona: Head south on Arizona 89A, continue straight through AZ RT 260 intersection in Cottonwood, turn right onto N 10th Street to the park. Visit our Dead Horse Ranch Photo Album.
Our favorite Sedona Hiking Resources
Tips for Hiking in Sedona
- Make sure to bring plenty of water. Even if you are only hiking a short distance, hydration is key. Take more than you think you will need.
- Create a hiking backpack that includes water, first aid kit, protein snacks, trail map, compass, sunscreen and sunglasses.
- It is always safer to hike with others. Always let somebody know what trails you plan on hiking.
- Wear suitable clothing and shoes for hiking.
- Don’t leave the trail. The ecosystem of the desert is fragile and leaving even a footprint can damage it.
- The trails in Sedona and the Verde Valley are very traveled and it is unlikely that you will come across a rattler, however if your tromp around off the trails you are asking for trouble! With that said be aware of your surroundings and respect the wildlife of Sedona!
- Bring a camera to take some amazing shots.
- Know your limitations.
- Don’t rush your hiking experience. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.
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The Best Western Plus Inn of Sedona is a proud sponsor of the Sedona Trail Keeper Program. As a local business in Sedona, we support the Sedona Trail Keeper program goals and continuously advocate that our visitors respect our fragile landscape, animals, and plants, while staying safe on the trails. As part of this elite group of supporters, we’ve committed to maintaining our delicate landscape and we work daily to preserve Sedona as one of the Earth’s greatest treasures.