With sprawling landscapes of lush forests mixed with vibrant sandstone, naturally occurring rock formations, and intriguing gorges as far as the eyes can see, it is easy to guess why Sedona is a hiking lover’s dream!
Hiking in Sedona was such a treat! The red rock towers and dessert views will take your breath away.
If it’s your first time to Sedona, it can be tough to choose between so many great hiking options. It can easily take weeks and months to explore all Sedona has to offer but you have to start somewhere.
On my last visit to Sedona, these three hikes made it to the top of my list for many reasons.
- Bell Rock Trail
- Devils Bridge
- Cathedral Rock
They all have the most amazing views, ample parking, are conveniently located near town, and easy enough for a non-pro hiker like me to find and navigate.
Below I’ve listed all the details you need to make the most out of each hike. Each of these Sedona hikes can all be done in 1/2 days, making them perfect for shorter Sedona Itineraries.
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Bell Rock Pathway, loop + climb
Beautiful, easy and rather short (well only if you don’t stop to take pictures every five feet). This trail was an easy pick because we were staying less than 5 mins away from the trailhead at Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock and wanted to do a few sunrise hikes.
I opted to do a few different sunrise hikes in this area but all on different trails. I was so glad I did. Because it was early, I avoided crowds, parked easily and saw the sandstone light up in brilliant hues in the morning sun.
If you can’t get to Bell Rock for sunrise (around 7 am in January) try to make it by 9 am or be prepared to wait for parking to open up.
On Day 1 of our trip, we stopped by for a sunset hike. There was ample parking in early January at 5:30 pm but in my opinion, the sun was much better for sunrise.
- Distance: Bell rock loop trail about 1.8 miles. The Bell Rock climb about .75miles (depending on when you stop climbing) Bell Rock out and back trail from parking lot 3.5 miles (or 1.5 from Courthouse Vista lot). Courthouse Butte Loop is about 4-miles round trip.
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate. While the loop path is mostly flat there will be a few rock steps and some necessary scrambling (walking up steep and rocky terrain involving the use of one’s hands) if you want to climb up Bell Rock. Hiking to the spire is much more difficult.
- Elevation Gain: About 350 feet
- Parking: About 35 spots at Bell Rock Vista Parking lot. Courthouse Vista has about the same but more space to park on the shoulder. Both provide access to Bell Rock and surrounding trails. Don’t forget to purchase your Red Rock parking pass for $5
There are two parking lots with access to Bell Rock Trail about a mile apart from each other.
Once you reach the lower section of Bell Rock you have an option to attempt to climb further up. Once I stopped noticing the rock cairns (a way to mark a trail with rocks when leaving blazes on trees is not an option) I stopped climbing.
I spent 2-3 hours on this amazing Sedona trail enjoying the views and capturing tons of photos!
Experienced hikers may want to scramble all the way up to one of the spires of Bell Rock. Only do this if you don’t mind a steep and seemingly dangerous climb.
Marked trails past the upper section are very elusive, so if you decide to climb, do so carefully!
It’s not as scary as it sounds! Another beautiful hike with views of untamed wilderness.
Devil’s Bridge is recommended at the Visitors Center which encourages traffic so another good one to do as early as you can.
We began our hike at 11 and encountered plenty of people along the way.
Parking was slightly tough but after about 10 mins a few spots opened up in the main lot.
We were held up in a few places from shaky climbers and I sacrificed some photo ops because of all the people. Regardless, this is still one of the BEST Sedona hikes!
- Distance: 4 ish miles round trip. If you have a 4×4 you can drive directly to the trailhead to cut a mile off of your hike
- Difficulty: Moderate (only because of some steep steps)
- Elevation Gain: 560 feet
- Parking: 6 spots at the trailhead with a high clearance 4×4 vehicle only. 40 spots at the parking lot off of Vultee Arch Road. A lot more roadside parking on BoyntonPass Rd.
There are a few ways you can get to Devil’s Bridge trailhead. One is from Mescal Trail off of Long Canyon Rd. (Mescal trail is an out and back 2.6 mile trail). Devil’s Bridge trailhead is across the street from the end of Mescal Trail.
Pro Tip: According to alltrails.com, if you are hiking after recent rainfall you will have to cross a stream with mid-calf-deep water to get to Devil’s Bridge Summit
The easiest and shortest path is via the rocky 4×4 only road from the Vultee Arch Road parking lot. You will share the road with the off-roading buggies, Pink Jeep tours and any other high clearance vehicles that dare to make it over the boulders.
All in all, it is an easy trail with amazing views of Red Rock Country. There are plenty of lookouts as you ascend reveling more unique landscapes. The trail can be quite steep in places but there are stairs.
I didn’t have to scramble but some less mobile hikers may feel comfortable on all fours going up the steep stairs. Also, with recent rainfall, it will be muddy.
We took about 3 hours round trip to complete this hike. It can definitely be done in less time but, I take a lot of pictures!
Can it get any more beautiful? Cathedral Rock is one of the most iconic rock formations you can hike to in Sedona.
You can access the trail in a few different ways.
The main trailhead from the parking lot of off Back O’Beyone Road gets full quickly. If it’s too packed and you don’t mind adding a few more miles to your hike head to Verde Vally School Road.
You will want to park in the Baldwin Trail Trailhead lot. It is the last parking lot on your left before the road dead ends.
Pro Tip: There are toilets at the Baldwin Trailhead lot -just don’t forget your biodegradable toilet paper!
To get to Cathedral Rock cross the road and hike left down the Baldwin trail to Templeton Trail.
This route takes you through the forest along a river before it crosses with the Cathedral Rock Trail.
The views throughout this route are really nice. In my opinion, with an easy switchback route, being partially shaded and views galore, it’s the better route. The best part, we practically had it all to ourselves!
- Distance: About a 3 miles round trip from Cathedral Rock trailhead
- Difficulty: Moderate to hard. Very steep at some points. Some scrambling is a must
- Elevation Gain: 645 feet
- Parking: About 50 spots between two lots and road parking off of Back O’Beyond Road. It gets full quickly!
We started this hike just after 11 am and made it to the top by 1pm. It’s a beautiful view!
There may be a line to take a photo on the edge but the wait is worth it. It’s known that there is a short rocky path to the left of the “End of Trail” sign that will put you right up against the central pillar of Cathedral Rock. We forgot to find it (I know, grrr) but I’ve seen photos and it is another great viewpoint.
If you are into Sunsets, this is a phenomenal spot. The sun descends right between the rocks into the valley.
If you do a sunset hike make sure to remember a headlamp. Without one, the moon will be the only thing lighting your way down, which can be dangerous.
These three hikes surpassed all my expectations of hiking Sedona Country. The red rocks are truly beautiful, especially when the sun hits them just right.
No matter, what trail your choose you can’t go wrong. There is so much beauty in Sedona waiting around every bend you will start planning your trip back before your even leave!
I still have two more trails on my Sedona hiking bucket list, Airport Mesa and Soldiers Pass. What are your suggestions for the best hikes in Sedona? I’ll add them to my list for next time!
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