Hiking in Sedona is one of the most popular things to do in the Grand Canyon State. The striking rock formations and red tones that light up with each ray of sunshine is just one thing Arizona is famous for.
I have done six Sedona hikes so far and have loved every single one. With sprawling landscapes, vibrant sandstone, and intriguing gorges as far as the eyes can see, it is easy to see why Sedona is a hiking lover’s dream. Hiking in Sedona can is enjoyed year-round but I love hiking in the wintertime when temps are cool, and there are fewer people on the trails.
If it’s your first time in Sedona, choosing between so many great hiking options can be tough. It can easily take weeks and months to explore all Sedona has to offer, but if you only have a few days, you’ll have to narrow down your hiking list. Some of my favorite Sedona hikes include these cave hikes; the Birthing Cave, Solider’s Pass Trail, and the Boynton Subway Cave. All of these were magical, and great options for a moderate hike since the caves can be tough to find.
In this post, I’ll be giving you all the details of these three favorite hikes.
- Bell Rock Trail
- Devils Bridge
- Cathedral Rock
All of these Sedona hikes have the most amazing views, and ample parking, and are conveniently located near town. They are also easy enough hikes for most fitness levels to enjoy but easy to navigate. These do get busy as well but if you hike in Sedona during the low season or early in the a.m you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the crowds.
Below I’ve listed all the details you need to make the most out of each hike. These Sedona hikes can be done in a few hours, making them perfect for shorter stays in Sedona.
If you are planning a trip to Sedona, this 5 day Sedona itinerary is a helpful resource with many recommendations including, where to eat, places to stay, days trips to take, and more.
Bell Rock Pathway, Loop + Climb
- 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
Beautiful, easy, and short (well, only if you don’t stop to take pictures every five feet). This trail was a simple pick because I stayed less than 5 mins away from the trailhead at Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. Every morning I walked around Bell Rock during sunrise, and even though it was freezing (15-20 degrees Fahrenheit), it was a great experience.
I opted to do a few different sunrise hikes, all on different trails at Bell Rock. 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 my trip, I 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.
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, 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!
- 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.
It’s not as scary as it sounds! Devil’s Bridge is another stunning Sedona 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. This is a popular spot for photos, and lines will form to take your photo on the bridge.
I began hiking at 11 am 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.
I was held up in a few places by shaky climbers, and I sacrificed some photo ops because of all the people. Regardless, this is still one of the best Sedona hikes. I love the viewing areas along the way.
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 a moderate trail with amazing views of Red Rock Country. There are plenty of lookouts as you ascend, revealing 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.
It took me about 3 hours round trip to complete this hike, but I stopped for many photos. It can definitely be done in less time, especially if you beat the crowds.
- 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!
Cathedral Rock is one of the most iconic Sedona hikes there is.
You can access the trail in a few different ways.
The main trailhead from the parking lot of off Back O’Beyond Road and gets full quickly. If it’s too packed and you don’t mind adding a few more miles to your hike, head to Verde Valley 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 intersects 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 was I practically had it all to myself!
I started this hike just after 11 am and made it to the top by 1 pm. Unfortunately, it got very crowded on the scrambling section up to the summit.
There may be a line to take photos on the edge, but the wait is worth it. I’ve heard 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. Unfortunately, I forgot to find it during my hike, but I’ve seen photos, and it is another great viewpoint if you want to look for it.
This Sedona hike is a phenomenal spot for sunsets. The sun descends right between the rocks into the valley.
If you do a sunset hike, make sure to bring a headlamp. Without one, the moon will be the only thing lighting your way down, which can be dangerous.
These three Sedona hikes surpassed all my expectations of what I thought hiking in Sedona would be. The red rocks are stunning, especially when the sun hits them just right. No matter what trail you 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 can’t wait to revisit Sedona and experience more of its beautiful hiking trails. If you have any suggestions for the best hikes in Sedona, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to add them to my list for next time.
READ MORE: Spectacular Sedona: A photo tour | 5 days in Sedona: Ultimate guide for an Amazing time! | All you need to know to find Sedona’s secret Birthing Cave | Complete guide to hiking Soldier’s Pass Trail