8 Best Sedona Hikes Rated: (Easy, Average, Hard)

With its iconic red rock formations and diverse range of trails, Sedona is a hiker’s paradise. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into hiking with some easy trails, looking for that Goldilocks zone of moderate hikes, or eager to conquer the most challenging peaks, we’ve got you covered.

best hiking spots in sedona

Here are the 8 best Sedona hikes rated from easiest to hardest:

Easy Sedona Hikes

Looking for some chill hiking vibes in Sedona? You’re in luck! This place isn’t just for the hardcore hikers and adrenaline junkies. There are plenty of easy trails where you can soak up those iconic red rock views without feeling like you’ve joined a boot camp. Perfect for families, beginners, or anyone who’s in the mood for a leisurely stroll. So, let’s dive into some easy Sedona hikes!

Bell Rock Pathway: The Grandeur of Sedona Without The Sweat

Bell Rock Pathway is the go-to spot for those who want to experience the grandeur of Sedona without breaking a sweat. Nestled among iconic red rock formations, this relatively flat trail serves as a gentle introduction to hiking in the area. You’ll get up close and personal with two of Sedona’s most famous landmarks—Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte—as you walk along the well-maintained path.

The trail is around 3.6 miles round-trip, making it ideal for families or those looking for a quick morning or afternoon hike. The smooth terrain is friendly for beginners, and there’s enough room for cyclists and pets, too. So it’s a fantastic choice if you’re looking to take the whole family, Fido included!

One of the highlights of Bell Rock Pathway is its accessibility. The trailhead is just off Highway 179, which means you can practically roll out of your car and start hiking. This easy access makes it one of the most popular trails in Sedona, especially for those on a tight schedule or for visitors who just happen to be passing through.

best sedona hikes

Despite its popularity and ease, the trail never feels crowded. There’s plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. And speaking of natural beauty, don’t forget to bring your camera! The viewpoints offer amazing photo opportunities of the red rock formations that have made Sedona famous.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a leisurely stroll or a novice eager to dip your toes into the world of hiking, Bell Rock Pathway is a must-visit. With its unbeatable convenience and breathtaking views, it’s a trail that captures the essence of Sedona’s natural wonders without demanding too much effort.

Here’s a table that provides the key information about the Bell Rock Pathway hike in Sedona:

DistanceApprox. 3.6 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 380 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 1.5 to 2 hours
Best FeaturesViews of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, family-friendly, well-maintained path
Difficulty LevelEasy
Trail TypeLoop
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredRed Rock Pass required
Best Time to VisitFall and Spring
Pet-FriendlyYes, dogs allowed on leash
Nearby AttractionsVarious scenic viewpoints, shops, and cafes along Highway 179
Parking AvailabilityAvailable but can fill up quickly; fees may apply

Sugarloaf Loop: A Short Family-Friendly Hike

Sugarloaf Loop is one of those trails that captures the essence of Sedona in a neat little package. At around 1.8 miles round-trip, it’s perfect for families and those looking for a shorter hike that still delivers on breathtaking views. The trail meanders through scrubland, dotted with junipers and manzanita bushes, before reaching Sugarloaf Summit, which is the star of the show.

Climbing the summit is a bit more strenuous, but absolutely worth it. Once you’re at the top, you’re treated to 360-degree views of the Sedona landscape, including iconic landmarks like Thunder Mountain and Coffee Pot Rock. The summit is a great spot to bring a picnic lunch, meditate, or simply marvel at the natural beauty of the area.

For the parents out there, this trail is a win-win. It’s not too taxing for younger kids, and the summit offers a rewarding experience that’ll get the little ones excited about hiking. Plus, the well-marked trail makes it easy to navigate, so you can focus more on the experience and less on the map.

easy sedona hikes

Another advantage of Sugarloaf Loop is its accessibility. Just a short drive from the heart of Sedona, the trailhead offers ample parking. Though popular, the trail rarely feels overcrowded, so you can enjoy some peace and quiet amid nature’s splendor.

If you’re a photography enthusiast, don’t forget your camera. The summit offers numerous photo ops, and you’ll likely catch sight of some local wildlife along the way. In short, Sugarloaf Loop provides a lovely blend of accessibility, moderate exercise, and stunning vistas.

Here’s a table summarizing what you need to know about the Sugarloaf Loop:

DistanceApprox. 1.8 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 400-450 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 1 to 1.5 hours
Best Features360-degree views from Sugarloaf Summit, family-friendly
Difficulty LevelModerate, especially the summit climb
Trail TypeLoop
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredNone required
Best Time to VisitFall and Spring
Pet-FriendlyYes, dogs allowed on leash
Nearby AttractionsClose to downtown Sedona
Parking AvailabilityAmple, but can fill up on weekends

Moderately Difficult Sedona Hikes

So, you’ve tackled the easy trails and you’re itching for a bit more of a challenge, huh? Awesome, because Sedona’s got a sweet lineup of moderate hikes that offer that “just right” level of adventure. We’re talking about trails that have a few more ups and downs, some cool natural landmarks, and jaw-dropping viewpoints that make those extra steps totally worth it. Ready to level up your hiking game in Sedona? Let’s get into it!

Cathedral Rock: Steep Inclines and Scrambles

If you’re after a hiking experience that’s a bit more adventurous, Cathedral Rock is the trail you’ll want to tackle. Known for its steep incline and scrambling sections, this hike isn’t for the faint-hearted but rewards you with some of the most breathtaking panoramic views in all of Sedona. The red rock formations are nothing short of awe-inspiring, and from the summit, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.

The trail itself is about 1.4 miles round-trip, but don’t let the short distance fool you. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in elevation gain, so be prepared to break a sweat. As you ascend, you’ll encounter sections that require you to use your hands and feet to scramble up the rocks. Hiking boots and a good level of fitness will make your journey more enjoyable.

One of the great things about Cathedral Rock is that it offers a sense of accomplishment. Reaching the summit is like earning a badge of honor, and you’ll often find other hikers at the top, sharing in that mutual feeling of achievement. It’s a social trail where conversations and friendships are often struck up along the way.

Photographers and Instagrammers, be warned: you’ll be tempted to stop every few steps to capture the remarkable scenery. The saddle points of the rock formation provide great opportunities for photos, but nothing beats the views from the top, especially during sunset.

Like many popular trails in Sedona, Cathedral Rock can get crowded, especially on weekends. To beat the rush, try hitting the trail early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Not only will you dodge the crowds, but the light during these times also offers a magical glow on the red rocks.

Here’s a table with all the essential details for the Cathedral Rock hike:

DistanceApprox. 1.4 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 600-700 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 1 to 2 hours
Best FeaturesPanoramic views, sense of accomplishment
Difficulty LevelModerate to Difficult
Trail TypeOut-and-back
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredRed Rock Pass required
Best Time to VisitEarly morning or late afternoon
Pet-FriendlyDogs discouraged due to steep, rugged terrain
Nearby AttractionsClose to Oak Creek, Red Rock State Park
Parking AvailabilityLimited; fills up quickly

Devil’s Bridge: A Sedona Classic

Devil’s Bridge is a Sedona classic, and for good reason. This trail leads you to one of the largest natural sandstone arches in the area. The hike itself is moderate, but it culminates in a spectacular payoff—the chance to stand atop the arch with the stunning red rocks of Sedona as your backdrop. The view is nothing short of awe-inspiring, making this hike a must-do for any visitor to the area.

The trail is approximately 4 miles round-trip if you start from the parking lot, but the hike isn’t too strenuous. The elevation gain is about 400 feet, and most of the trail is well-marked and fairly level. However, the final push to the bridge requires some steep steps and a bit of a scramble. Don’t worry though; it’s all part of the adventure, and those moments of effort make reaching the arch that much more rewarding.

The arch itself is both grand and humbling. Standing atop Devil’s Bridge, you’ll feel like you’ve entered one of nature’s most magnificent cathedrals. It’s also a prime spot for photography, so be sure to bring your camera. But be cautious, especially if you have a fear of heights; while the arch is relatively wide, it’s still a long way down.

hiking in sedona

Devil’s Bridge is a highly popular trail, so if solitude is what you’re after, you might want to choose a different hike. The trail can get crowded, especially on weekends and during the holiday seasons. An early start is advised if you want to beat the crowds and have the arch to yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Despite the popularity, the trail never loses its charm. Every twist and turn offers new views, and the sandstone formations keep your eyes wandering and your imagination active. Whether it’s your first time in Sedona or you’re a seasoned visitor, this trail delivers an unforgettable experience.

Here’s a quick table for the key details of the Devil’s Bridge hike:

DistanceApprox. 4 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 400 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 2 to 3 hours
Best FeaturesNatural sandstone arch, panoramic views
Difficulty LevelModerate
Trail TypeOut-and-back
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredNone required
Best Time to VisitEarly morning to beat the crowds
Pet-FriendlyYes, dogs allowed on leash
Nearby AttractionsOther red rock formations, scenic drives
Parking AvailabilityLimited; fills up quickly

Boynton Canyon: Red Rocks and Evergreen Forests

Boynton Canyon is a gem among Sedona’s trails, offering a little bit of everything—from impressive red rock formations to a lush evergreen forest. The hike is a mix of the ethereal and the earthly, taking you on a 6.1-mile round-trip journey through some of the most diverse landscapes in the area. As you head deeper into the trail, you’ll find yourself enclosed in a box canyon, a serene spot that feels worlds away from everyday life.

What sets Boynton Canyon apart is its versatility. One moment, you’re walking through a corridor of towering red rocks, and the next, you’re surrounded by pine, cypress, and juniper trees. This variety makes it an excellent trail for nature lovers who enjoy bird-watching, photography, or simply immersing themselves in diverse ecosystems.

While the hike is relatively moderate, it does offer a good amount of exercise. There are some uphill sections, but they’re manageable, making the trail suitable for most fitness levels. And because it’s a bit longer, you’ll want to bring plenty of water and maybe some snacks for a mid-hike break in the canyon.

woman hiking in sedona

Boynton Canyon is also known for its energy vortex, an area that some believe has concentrated spiritual energy. Whether or not you’re a believer, the serene atmosphere of the canyon does lend itself to introspection and relaxation. It’s a perfect spot for meditation or just soaking in the natural beauty.

Though it’s one of the more popular hikes in Sedona, the trail is long enough that it rarely feels crowded. This makes it a good choice for those who want a bit of solitude without having to venture too far off the beaten path. Early mornings and weekdays are generally less busy if you’re looking to escape the crowds.

Here’s your quick reference table for Boynton Canyon:

DistanceApprox. 6.1 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 450-500 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 3 to 4 hours
Best FeaturesDiverse ecosystems, box canyon, energy vortex
Difficulty LevelModerate
Trail TypeOut-and-back
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredRed Rock Pass required
Best Time to VisitSpring and Fall
Pet-FriendlyYes, dogs allowed on leash
Nearby AttractionsBoynton Canyon Vortex, Enchantment Resort
Parking AvailabilityAmple but can get busy

Challenging Sedona Hikes

Ready to break a sweat and earn those unbelievable Sedona views? You’re in the right place! If you’re the kind of hiker who thinks “the tougher, the better,” then you’re going to love the challenging trails this place has to offer. These aren’t your casual strolls; we’re talking steep inclines, rocky terrain, and maybe even a bit of scrambling. But hey, the reward? Absolutely epic vistas that you’ll have to see to believe. So lace up those sturdy hiking boots—let’s dive into Sedona’s most challenging trails!

Bear Mountain: Panoramic Views at 1,800 Feet

If you’re looking for a hiking challenge in Sedona with rewards to match, Bear Mountain is your go-to trail. This hike is not for the casual stroller; it’s strenuous, with an elevation gain of about 1,800 feet, but the payoff is a panoramic view of Sedona and the surrounding landscapes that’s second to none. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the San Francisco Peaks!

The trail stretches approximately 5 miles round-trip and offers a variety of terrain. You’ll traverse everything from red rock formations to wooded areas, and even a flat mesa near the summit. Be prepared for steep inclines and switchbacks, especially as you approach the top. Good hiking boots and a daypack with plenty of water and snacks are must-haves for this journey.

One of the best aspects of Bear Mountain is that it tends to be less crowded than some other Sedona trails, perhaps because of its challenging nature. This means you’re more likely to find solitude, particularly as you ascend to higher elevations. It’s a hike that allows for moments of quiet reflection, broken only by the oohs and aahs that the vistas will inevitably draw from you.

tough sedona hikes

For photography enthusiasts, Bear Mountain is a goldmine. The diversity of the landscape and the expansive views offer endless photo ops. Whether it’s capturing the flora along the trail or the wide-angle shots from the summit, your camera will get a workout.

Given the trail’s difficulty, it’s advised to start early in the day to avoid the heat and allow ample time for both ascending and descending. Even experienced hikers can find Bear Mountain challenging, so it’s wise to pace yourself and take regular breaks, especially if you’re hiking during the warmer months.

Here’s a handy table to summarize the Bear Mountain hike:

DistanceApprox. 5 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 1,800 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 4 to 6 hours
Best FeaturesPanoramic views, diverse terrain
Difficulty LevelStrenuous
Trail TypeOut-and-back
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredRed Rock Pass required
Best Time to VisitSpring and Fall
Pet-FriendlyNot recommended due to strenuous terrain
Nearby AttractionsDoe Mountain, Fay Canyon
Parking AvailabilityLimited; arrive early

Wilson Mountain: The Highest Peak Around Sedona

If you’ve got a taste for adventure and an appetite for breathtaking vistas, Wilson Mountain should be on your Sedona hiking list. As the highest peak in the area, it offers an unparalleled bird’s-eye view of Sedona’s iconic red rocks, Oak Creek Canyon, and even the distant San Francisco Peaks. Reaching the summit is no small feat, but the reward is one of the most expansive panoramas you’ll find in this part of Arizona.

The trail to the top is about a 10-mile round-trip hike, with an elevation gain of over 2,300 feet. Yep, it’s a doozy, but well worth the effort. The path takes you through a variety of landscapes, ranging from dense forests to exposed ridgelines, offering periodic views that are a tantalizing preview of what awaits at the summit.

A few words of caution: Wilson Mountain is a hike that demands preparation. Given its length and elevation gain, it’s crucial to bring enough water, snacks, and possibly even a packed lunch. Proper footwear is a must, and always keep an eye on the weather; conditions can change quickly at higher elevations.

woman looking out over an overlook in sedona

For those who make it to the summit, the sense of accomplishment is hard to put into words. You’ll find an observation platform at the top, ideal for those panorama shots or just a serene moment of reflection. It’s also a great spot for a picnic—if you’ve been savvy enough to pack some grub.

Because of its challenging nature, Wilson Mountain tends to attract fewer crowds than some of the easier Sedona trails. If you’re looking for solitude combined with awe-inspiring views, this hike is hard to beat. But be sure to start early, particularly in the warmer months, to avoid the heat and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the experience.

Here’s your key info table for Wilson Mountain:

DistanceApprox. 10 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 2,300 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 6 to 8 hours
Best FeaturesExpansive vistas, observation platform
Difficulty LevelStrenuous
Trail TypeOut-and-back
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredRed Rock Pass required
Best Time to VisitSpring and Fall
Pet-FriendlyNot recommended due to strenuous terrain
Nearby AttractionsOak Creek Canyon, Midgley Bridge
Parking AvailabilityLimited; arrive early

Special Mention: The West Fork Trail

Ah, West Fork Trail—a Sedona hike that’s in a class of its own. If you’re a fan of lush landscapes, creek crossings, and the kind of fall foliage that artists dream about, this is your hike. Rated as moderate and clocking in at about 7 miles round-trip, it’s accessible for hikers of most skill levels, making it a popular choice for families and groups.

What sets West Fork Trail apart is the stream that you’ll cross multiple times throughout the hike. Don’t worry, these crossings are part of the fun, and there are stepping stones and logs to help you keep your feet dry. But just in case, you might want to pack an extra pair of socks.

The best time to hike this trail is arguably in the fall when the leaves put on a vibrant show of reds, oranges, and yellows. But honestly, it’s beautiful at any time of the year. Winter brings a sprinkle of snow, spring offers budding greenery, and summer provides cool relief under the forest canopy.

girl hiking in sedona

The hike is gentle for the most part but can be a bit slippery near the water crossings. Good footwear is essential, and walking poles can be helpful if you’re concerned about balance. The trail ends where the canyon narrows, but you can explore further if you’re comfortable wading through shallow water.

This trail tends to attract crowds, especially during peak seasons. A weekday or early morning start can help you avoid the masses. And don’t forget to bring your camera; whether it’s capturing the iridescent quality of light filtering through the leaves or snapping a family photo on a stepping stone, you’ll have ample photo ops.

Here’s a quick reference table for West Fork Trail:

DistanceApprox. 7 miles round-trip
ElevationApprox. 400 feet elevation gain
Time to CompleteAround 3 to 4 hours
Best FeaturesStream crossings, fall foliage
Difficulty LevelModerate
Trail TypeOut-and-back
AccessibilityNot wheelchair or stroller-friendly
Permit RequiredRed Rock Pass required
Best Time to VisitFall for foliage, year-round accessible
Pet-FriendlyYes, dogs allowed on leash
Nearby AttractionsOak Creek Canyon, Slide Rock State Park
Parking AvailabilityLimited; fills up quickly

Tips for Hiking in Sedona

Hiking in Sedona is an experience like no other, but there are a few key things to keep in mind to make your adventure safe and enjoyable. Here are some tips:

  1. Hydration is Key: The dry Arizona climate can dehydrate you quickly. Always carry more water than you think you’ll need, especially during the hotter months.
  2. Footwear Matters: Good hiking boots with ankle support and non-slip soles are crucial. You’ll encounter a variety of terrains—from sandy paths to rocky scrambles.
  3. Pack Essentials: Along with water, pack some trail snacks, a first-aid kit, sunscreen, and a hat. A map or GPS wouldn’t hurt either.
  4. Weather Watch: Keep an eye on the weather forecast. Conditions can change rapidly, and certain trails may be dangerous in inclement weather.
  5. Leave No Trace: Always practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, and respect the environment by staying on designated trails.
  6. Permits and Passes: Many trails require a Red Rock Pass, which you can purchase at visitor centers or kiosks.
  7. Early Bird Gets the View: Popular trails can get crowded, particularly during peak season. Start early to avoid the crowds and the midday heat.
  8. Take Your Time: Elevation and heat can make hiking more strenuous than you might expect. Listen to your body, and take breaks when needed.
  9. Know Your Limits: Sedona offers trails of varying difficulty levels. Don’t overestimate your hiking abilities; it’s okay to turn back.
  10. Capture the Moment: Don’t forget your camera! The stunning vistas are worth capturing, but also take time to soak it all in.
  11. Wildlife Awareness: You might encounter wildlife like snakes or larger mammals. Keep a safe distance and never feed wild animals.
  12. Local Advice: If you can, talk to locals or park rangers for the most up-to-date trail information and recommendations.

Keeping these tips in mind will help ensure you have a memorable and safe hiking experience in the red rock haven that is Sedona.

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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