Best Hikes in Sedona: Discovering 15 Hidden Trails in the Heart of Arizona

Explore Sedona's stunning red rock formations and hidden gems with our comprehensive guide to the best hikes. Start your adventure today with essential tips, including getting a Red Rock Pass!

Sedona, Arizona is a renowned hiking destination, attracting visitors from around the globe with its breathtaking red rock formations, diverse trails, and mesmerizing energy vortexes. Beyond the iconic Dry Creek Road’s Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock, Sedona offers a wealth of hidden trails waiting to be explored.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker seeking a challenge or a casual walker wanting to immerse yourself in the natural beauty, Sedona has something for everyone. Here’s a guide to the top hikes in Sedona, including hidden gems and popular must-tries for when you next visit Sedona Arizona.

First Things First: Get a Red Rock Pass

Before you embark on your Sedona adventure, remember, obtaining a red rock pass is crucial. Not only does this pass grant you access to parking lots at most trailheads, but it also directly aids trail upkeep and Sedona’s preservation efforts. Even if nabbing a parking spot isn’t on your agenda, purchasing a pass is a fantastic way to show your support.

Conveniently, the Red Rock pass can be bought online. Options include a $5 daily pass, a $15 weekly pass, or a $30 annual pass. Invest in preserving the beauty of Sedona—it’s a small price to pay for the memories you’ll make!

red rock formations in sedona, arizona usa
Rock Formations – Sedona, Arizona, USA

The Best Hiking Trails in Sedona, Arizona

Boynton Canyon Trail to Subway Cave

Roundtrip Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 ft.

Among the best hikes in Sedona, the Boynton Canyon Trail simply stands out. Not many trails offer the blend of amazement and adventure that this trail delivers.

The hike offers stunning views of red rock canyons and culminates in the iconic Subway Cave, a natural sandstone tunnel carved by water and wind. This unique geological feature is the highlight of the trail and a photographer’s dream.

Long Canyon Trail to Birthing Cave

Roundtrip Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft.

As you venture into the heart of Arizona, brace yourself for a distinctive experience among the best Sedona hikes – the Long Canyon trail to Birthing Cave. Fraught with spirit and allure, the Birthing Cave has been hailed as a sacred site by Native American tribes.

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Its arresting charm lends an experience divergent from any other Sedona trek, while the cave’s womb-like shape and presence of a natural spring within have been associated with fertility and childbirth.

While its reverence and majesty have elevated it among the best Sedona hikes, bear in mind its growing popularity. It particularly gets bustling during peak seasons and weekends, possibly leading to overcrowding. For a more serene journey, plan your adventure during the non-peak seasons to truly savor your trip.

View out of the Sedona Birthing Cave looking at the mountains and trees in Sedona, Arizona, USA
photo credit: Travis Smith via Facebook

Table Top Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

Following the rhythm of the red rocks, take your journey of exploration a notch higher by embarking on a hike at the Table Top Trail Sedona. Spread before you like a canvas, this trail fills your senses with unparalleled panoramic views of the nearby geological masterpieces, including the Coffee Pot Rock, Chimney Rock, and the expansive Verde Valley.

These are three vistas you simply cannot miss when hiking in Sedona. You can also watch as the sunrise or sunset paints the red rocks in resplendent hues at this much-loved hotspot, thanks to its clear, unobstructed views.

Cathedral Rock

Roundtrip Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 700 ft.

Another gem among the best hikes Sedona has to offer is the unforgettable climb to Cathedral Rock. Getting to the top of Cathedral Rock is no small feat, but as you stand on one of Sedona’s most iconic and photographed landmarks, you’ll realize it’s worth every step. Perfectly poised for sunrise and sunset viewing, the summit is a destination in its own right.

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The reward of panoramic views is truly magnificent, showcasing stunning vistas of canyons, the verdant Verde Valley, and Sedona’s distinct red rock formations. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the view from Cathedral Rock leaves us speechless!

View of sun on Cathedral rock in Sedona ArizonaWest Fork Trail of Oak Creek Canyon

Roundtrip Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

For an adventurous escapade, the West Fork Trail is a must-try. This trail is a spectacular journey through the heart of Oak Creek Canyon, enveloped by towering red rock walls and abundant green foliage.

It’s not just a feast for the eyes, either. With a series of cascading waterfalls to explore, you can cool off by swimming, wading, or kayaking in the refreshing waters of Oak Creek, making it a great hike for a hot day.

Doe Mountain Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft.

For a family-friendly excursion amongst Sedona’s encaptivating landscapes, make your way to the Doe Mountain Trail Sedona. Blessed with panoramic vistas, this trail will leave you in awe at the sight of Red Rock formations like Thunder Mountain, Bell Rock, and Coffee Pot Rock.

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Although some parts can be rocky and uneven, a little caution is all you need for these sections. The well-maintained trail is an easy trek overall, making it a picturesque stroll that even young children can enjoy. Considered by many as one of the best hikes Sedona has to offer, the trail guarantees a memorable and engaging hiking experience for the entire family.

A hiker in Sedona, Arizona. Doe Mountain Trail. Middle Aged Caucasian male with arms raised against a dramatic sky. Self Portrait. Additional themes include backcountry, adventure, eco tourism, trail running, exercise, fitness, health, healthy living, recreation, leisure, one man, back view, and happiness.Soldier Pass Trail and Seven Sacred Pools

Roundtrip Distance: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft.

The Soldier Pass Trail, a highlight among the top Sedona hikes, leads adventurers to the awe-inspiring Soldier’s Pass Cave, a vast natural archway that frames breathtaking vistas.

Should you continue to hike onward, you’ll also be rewarded by the Seven Sacred Pools, an extraordinary series of natural pools etched into the rock by centuries of water erosion. Though challenging, the journey rewards hikers with stunning views and unique geological features.

Bell Rock Pathway

Roundtrip Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

Bell Rock Pathway offers up-close views of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, two of Sedona’s most iconic red rock formations.

As you wander along the trail, the magnificent red rock formations tower above, offering a spectacular backdrop for a family adventure. That’s right–the Bell Rock Pathway is a family-friendly trip, thanks to the pathway’s uncomplicated terrain and short distance. If you stay for a while, you’ll also be rewarded with incredible sunset views over Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte.

Aerial view looking down on Verde Canyon Railroad on a sunny day in Sedona, Arizona, USA
photo credit: Verde Canyon Railroad via Facebook

Courthouse Butte Loop Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

If you’re looking to level up your hiking experience, embarking on the Courthouse Butte Loop Trail is a must-do adventure. Named after the distinctive Courthouse Butte, a magnificent red rock formation perched in the heart of Sedona, this trail winds around the base of the notable formation. Don’t be surprised if the butte’s courthouse-like silhouette captures your intrigue!

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The trail may present a more challenging hike compared to the Bell Rock Pathway, but the well-marked trail and moderate difficulty make it an exhilarating journey for families and older children with hiking experience.

Choose to journey the loop, or combine with other trails for more varied terrain, and enjoy unparalleled views of the red rocks including Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, and Coffee Pot Rock, each one more majestic than the last.

Bear Mountain Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft.

Don’t fret about meeting any actual bears on your adventure up Bear Mountain trail. Its name, some believe, comes from the bear-like shape of the mountain – visible when peering at it just right. But really, it’s a simple marker of the trail’s location on Bear Mountain. Despite its once bear-filled past, the bold beasts are rare sights on the trail today.

Instead, as you steady your breath at the summit, expect to be met with a different kind of remarkable vision. Nothing short of breathtaking, take in the great views of distinctive Sedona’s red rock formations. From Thunder Mountain to Coffee Pot Rock and Chimney Rock, each vista offers an unforgettable reward for your ascent.

people hiking down trail with red rocks view in the Coconino National Forest near Sedona, Arizona, USA
Coconino National Forest / Flickr

Thunder Mountain Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft.

As you navigate the hidden trails of Sedona, diverge the path less traveled to the mountain trail of Thunder Mountain. A trove of tranquility compared to its busier counterparts, the Thunder Mountain trail gifts hikers a solitude rendezvous with nature. Arriving at an altitude surpassing 10,000 feet, the trail provides a rare gateway into the alpine world.

Come spring and summer, expect your journey to be painted with stunning specks of wildflowers, notably the woolly mule’s ears, Indian paintbrush, and scarlet gilia. At the summit, your efforts are rewarded with magnificent, panoramic vistas of the Sierra Nevada mountains, unveiling the beauty of Caples Lake and the Carson Pass area.

Airport Mesa

Roundtrip Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 600 ft.

Dare to challenge yourself with the meticulously carved trail of the Airport Mesa. At only 3 miles roundtrip, you might underestimate its spirit. However, expect plenty of rock scrambling, adding an unexpected thrill to your journey.

The trail leads you across rugged terrains sculpted by time, bestowing upon you extravagant views of Sedona’s red rock formations, including the Cathedral Spire, Thunder Mountain, and Coffee Pot Rock.

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While these sights can grace your eyes on other trails, hikers take this path, not for the view alone but for the adrenaline-inducing challenges. Successfully navigating the demanding sections instills an overwhelming sense of accomplishment amidst Sedona’s ancient landscapes.

View looking up at the rock formations that make the Sedona Vortex with a blue sky behind them in Sedona, Arizona, USABrins Mesa Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 900 ft.

If it’s tranquility you’re seeking, consider the road less traveled—Brins Mesa Trail. Frequented by fewer hikers, it’s the ideal choice for serenity amongst Sedona’s landscapes. It meanders through a stunning array of red rock formations, hoodoos, and canyons.

And it’s not just the scenery that’s captivating. The wide-open meadows offer ample opportunities for wildlife sightings, adding an extra touch of natural wonder. Significantly, Brins Mesa harbors indigenous history, deemed sacred by Native American tribes. Keep an eye out—you might stumble upon enchanting petroglyphs and sacred artifacts, making your hike a journey through time.

Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

Walk in the footsteps of the Yavapai with a trek along the Chimney Rock and Little Sugarloaf Trail. This journey takes you through native inhabited lands, climbing red rock ridges and descending into intricate canyons.

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As you reach the summit of Chimney Rock, once a vital lookout for the Yavapai, you’ll drink in heart-stopping vistas. And the adventure isn’t limited to land. Expect to cross the frothy waters of Thunder Creek at two separate points, injecting a thrilling element into your trek.

On this trail, remnants of ancient history intersect with untouched natural beauty, creating an unforgettable hiking experience.

rock formations with trees and greenery and rushing water in the foreground - Sedona, Arizona, USA
photo credit: Visit Sedona via Facebook

Keyhole Cave Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.

Why not experience Sedona off the beaten path on the Keyhole Cave Trail? Fewer travelers grace this route, offering you a serene, secluded exploration of Arizona’s wilderness. It’s an unmarked path, demanding keen navigation skills and a thirst for adventure.

As you navigate through imposing red rock formations and rugged canyons, the iconic Keyhole Cave awaits you. Created by centuries of nature’s erosive forces, this natural arch becomes the trail’s pinnacle. To access the cave’s heart, you’ll undertake a brief yet demanding climb – an exhilarating challenge for any intrepid trekker.

Hog Heaven Trail

Roundtrip Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft.

As you embark on the Hog Heaven Trail, you’ll be greeted by towering monsters of red rock such as Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Coffee Pot Rock, painted strikingly against the Arizona sky. Unique formations, namely Hog Wash and Hog Heaven itself, add flavor to your geological journey, boasting a diverse and intriguing landscape.

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The Hog Heaven Trail is a thrilling escapade, with certain stretches revealing steep drop-offs that provide heart-stopping views, simultaneously demanding caution and awareness from adventurous souls. The challenge it presents means fewer hikers, giving you a more serene and intimate experience with Sedona’s wild beauty.

Coffee Pot Rock in Sedona at SunsetPlan a Grand Sedona Adventure Today

Ready to start your Sedona adventure? With Tripster’s flexible vacation packages, all the excitement is just a click away. Not only can you select your desired accommodations from a wide range of Sedona’s top hotels, but you can also score discounted tickets to the most sought-after attractions.

More than just a convenience, Tripster’s tailored vacation packages offer notable savings when you bundle hotel and activity tickets, compared to individual purchases. Experience the heart-stopping views and unique geological formations of Sedona’s best hikes, without straining your wallet. So, why wait? Embrace the adventure and start planning your unforgettable Sedona journey today.

What Did We Miss?

Do you have a favorite hiking trail to add to our guide? Leave us a comment below!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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