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16 Best Sedona Hikes for Thrill Seekers & Adventure Lovers

Best Sedona Hikes - girl watching sunset at a Sedona, AZ vista

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In this blog, we’re going to talk about the best Sedona hikes! We’ll go into what Sedona trails are best for sunset and sunrise, easy hiking trails, and everything you need to know before you go to Sedona, AZ. 

Best Sedona Hikes - girl watching sunset at a Sedona, AZ vista

Sedona, Arizona, is an oasis for photographers and explorers, full of vortexes, red rocks, and adventures. And I AM HERE FOR IT – Sedona, AZ hiking trails are also some of the best, IMO.

I have spent about 14 or so years living in Arizona, which means I have seen plenty of AZ. But every time someone asks me what they should see when they visit, I direct them to Sedona.

It just has so much to offer visitors. I love that you can go from eating at an excellent restaurant to staying at a boujee desert spa resort to jumping on a Jeep tour, to hiking, then checking out the art scene. There is something for everyone. 

Sedona was where I did my first hike, actually – wow, I can’t believe that haha. 

True story, though: my family had just moved to Arizona from Chicago, Illinois and my parents thought it would be a great idea to go on a hiking trip in the middle of the summer. LMAO, they were so wrong, BUT little did I know at the time that this would be the start of my love affair with the outdoors. 

Needless to say, this part of AZ is special and a must-see during anyone’s visit to the desert. But here’s the thing: as beautiful as Sedona, AZ is, it’s undoubtedly one of the most touristy destinations in the whole state. So depending on when you visit, there will most likely be a crowd. And because Sedona, AZ, is known for its hiking scene, you’ll most likely experience crowds at all the popular trails. As an Arizona local, I feel like I have to pass along as much information as I can about Sedona, hence why this blog exists in the first place.

I want to make sure that despite it being busy, you have a memorable experience here!

While we will be talking about some of the more popular choices for the best Sedona hikes, I will also provide you with some trail options that you may not have considered or can act as alternatives if you didn’t get to go on a hike you had your sights set on. 

In this blog, you’ll also find some additional details on what you need to know before heading over, AND I’m providing you with a map to the best hiking trails in Sedona, AZ I discuss here. 

And FINALLY, I would like to note that the most popular Sedona, AZ hikes are popular for a reason, so you should aim to see one or two of them during your trip. Again, we’ll discuss these trails more, but I don’t want you to discount them from your trip entirely, k?

Alrighty, I think I’ve spoken enough; let’s get into the best hiking in Sedona!

Disclaimer: Hey there, Explorer! This post may contain affiliate links in which I receive a commission if you decide to purchase. These links help support me and my blog. This is of no extra cost to you, and I only share products I know would be helpful on the best hikes in Sedona, AZ!

Best Sedona Hikes Must-Have: Red Rock Pass

Best Sedona Hikes - Girl standing by Cathedral Rock vortex in Sedona, AZ

Please note that most of these hiking trails require a Red Rock Pass, which you can purchase at the parking lots for $5. You might be thinking; WTF is a Red Rock pass? 

What is a Red Rock Pass?

The Forest Service created the Red Rock Pass program to help keep Sedona trails as immaculate as possible. 

Because of their popularity, Sedona, AZ hiking trails tend to need plenty of maintenance. Therefore, the money earned from the program helps keep the trails pristine. 

But FUN FACT, if you’re a national park lover and have your America the Beautiful Interagency Pass handy, you can hang that on your car and you’ll be good to go!

How Much is a Red Rock Pass?

A Red Rock pass for a day hike is $5. A weekly Red Rock pass is $15, and an annual Red Rock Pass is $20. 

Where to Purchase a Red Rock Pass

You can purchase a Red Rock pass online or in person. I have always used the Red Rock pass vending machines located at the trailheads that require a pass. And yes, the machines accept credit cards. The Forest Service has a complete list of hikes that require a Red Rock Pass you can view on their website. 

Best Trails in Sedona – The 8 Must-Dos

Girl holding her dog on trail in Sedona, AZ

Now that you’re up to date on Red Rock Passes, let’s get into the best Sedona hikes, shall we? 

BUT WAIT, how will this work? In my opinion, there are two kinds of Sedona trails: the must-sees for first-time visitors and the alternatives. The alternatives are pretty impressive, but of course, you will want to see the “musts” to get the whole Sedona experience. And yes, these are pretty popular.

We will start by discussing the must-see hikes first. For these, you’ll notice that I give you a breakdown of the trail details, the best photo spots, tips for the trail, and more (1 – 8). Because these are so popular, we will discuss them in the most detail, so you have EVERYTHING you need before your trip.

Next, I’ll list out some of my favorite “alternative” trails for you to try (9 – 16).

After we talk about hikes, I will give you some pointers to note before visiting Sedona, AZ.

#1 Cathedral Rock via Cathedral Rock Trail – Top Hike in Sedona

Girl sitting at the top of Cathedral Rock Trail for sunset in Sedona, AZ-3

Are you shocked I listed a Cathedral Rock hike first? Probably not since the Cathedral Rock trails are considered to be some of the best hiking in Sedona, AZ. 

Cathedral Rock is the iconic rock structure you’ve probably seen in most pictures in this area. So, if you’ve never been to Sedona, Cathedral Rock is a must! This hike is a bit of a climb to get to the top, and the smooth cliff sides are not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth every step!

Be prepared to use your hands and feet on this hike! For that reason, I suggest wearing closed-toed hiking shoes. The trail can be a bit rocky! 

Cathedral Rock via Cathedral Rock Trail Hike Description

There are a couple of ways to get to the top, and each trail offers something different. Let’s talk about the first option: the Cathedral Rock Trail off Back O’ Beyond Road. Cathedral Rock Trail is the traditional path up Cathedral Rock and has a small parking lot that gets packed within an hour. It’s the easiest and straightforward way to the top.

You’ll most likely see plenty of visitors coming up and down the trail, which will give you an idea of where to go (if this is your first time there).

Regardless, you can expect to follow a series of rock piles to the top if you take this route. All the rock piles were placed there by rangers, FYI (they look like rocks put in a chicken wire prison, LMAO). 

Cathedral Rock via Baldwin Trail Hike Description

However, I like to go up Cathedral Rock via our second option: the backside, down Verde Valley Road. To go the ‘back way,’ you’ll take Baldwin Trail – which makes for one of the best Sedona hikes in my opinion! 

This route brings you along Oak Creek which makes it a more luscious hiking trail. You’ll also get a jaw-dropping view of Cathedral Rock using this route! The parking lot for Baldwin Trail is tiny, but because Cathedral Rock is such a popular hiking destination, the crowds are almost unavoidable.

Baldwin Trail will eventually meet up with Cathedral Rock Trail, which might leave you asking, “Why tf would I use Baldwin if I’ll just be going up Cathedral Rock Trail anyways?” For starters, you get a gorgeous view of Cathedral Rock along your hike, AND you get to experience a sort of calm by hiking along the creek – overall it’s a better hiking experience if you ask me! 

This route looks like:

Baldwin Trail > Templeton Trail > Cathedral Rock Trail

No matter what route you take, once at the top of this Sedona, AZ hiking trail, you can post up anywhere and enjoy some trail snacks. I suggest that after you catch your breath, swing left at the overlook and follow a rocky hill to a hidden pillar, which happens to be the location of a “vortex.”

If you want to read more about your options for getting to the top of Cathedral Rock, I suggest reading my blog on hiking Cathedral Rock for sunset.

Hike for Sunrise or Sunset?

No matter what route you choose, add Cathedral Rock at sunset to your list, and I guarantee you’ll consider it some of the best hiking in Sedona too!

Girl sitting at the top of Cathedral Rock Trail for sunset in Sedona, AZ

Cathedral Rock via Cathedral Rock Trail Hike Breakdown:

  • Location: 34°49’30.7″N 111°47’18.3″W
  • Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 1.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 645 feet
  • Parking: Limited with about 20 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunset for the main vista. 
  • Red Rock Pass Required? Yes

Cathedral Rock Hiking Tips:

  1. This Sedona, AZ hiking trail does not have much tree coverage or shade in general! Pack plenty of water, head protection, and wear sunscreen to stay comfortable.
  2. To reiterate, for a bonus view of Cathedral Rock, start your hike the “back way” via Baldwin Trail. You can get to Baldwin Trail via Verde Valley Road.
  3. Parking can be a challenge since it’s considered one of the top hikes in Sedona, AZ. Red Rock passes are available for purchase at a kiosk located at the trailhead.
  4. When you go to this Sedona hiking trail, make sure you allow time to visit the “secret” pillar!

Best Cathedral Rock Photo Spots:

  • Sunset on the main overlook
  • Along this Sedona hiking trail, looking out at the valley towards the parking lot
  • On the Baldwin Trail, looking up at Cathedral Rock

Read More: Hike Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona, AZ

#2: Devil’s Bridge via Chuck Wagon Trail – Great Hike in Sedona for Sunrise

Girl sitting on Devil_s Bridge for sunrise in Arizona

Ahhh, another popular trail that rightfully deserves a spot on the list of the best Sedona hikes! Again, Devil’s Bridge is kind of a must if you have never been to Sedona. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, it can quickly get crowded within a couple of hours. I do think, though, that if you can go early in the morning or later in the day, it’s worth the adventure.

Devil’s Bridge via Chuck Wagon Trail Hike Description

TYPICALLY the hike to Devil’s Bridge starts on Chuck Wagon Trail where it will eventually meet with Devil’s Bridge Trail. Once you approach the Chuck Wagon trailhead parking, you will have the option of driving Dry Creek Road about a mile closer to the Devil’s Bridge Trail. However, driving Dry Creek Road requires a high clearance vehicle with 4×4 ability. 

If you’re unsure that your car can make the drive, simply park at Chuck Wagon Trailhead lot off Boynton Pass Road and begin your hike. Because this is considered one of the best hiking trails in Sedona, AZ, parking can fill up quickly. You can usually wait a few minutes and a spot will open up for you.

Once parked, hike Chuck Wagon to Devil’s Bridge for about 5.7 miles roundtrip. This route looks like:

Chuck Wagon Trail > Devil’s Bridge Trail and back

This is one of the easy trails in Sedona, AZ to follow and relatively flat. Eventually, you will cross Dry Creek Road (bye bye Jeep tours!) and start your uphill climb towards the Bridge using Devil’s Bridge Trail. If you’re brave enough, you can cross the Bridge when you get there!

Devil’s Bridge via Dry Creek Road Hike Description

However, there are multiple ways to hike to Devil’s Bridge which I recommend reading on. For example, you could just walk Dry Creek Road if you wanted to. This option is a bit dusty and boring PLUS Jeep tours use this road. But people love to go this route because it’s more direct.

Whether you walk or you have a 4×4 vehicle to park directly at the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead, your route would look like:

Dry Creek Road (drive or walk) > Devil’s Bridge Trail

PS: You can start your “walk” or drive from the same Chuck Wagon parking lot we previously discussed.

Devil’s Bridge via Mescal Trail Hike Description

You could also park at the Mescal Trailhead off Long Canyon Road and hike Mescal to Chuck Wagon to Devil’s Bridge. This is about a 4mi round trip hike. The route looks like:

Mescal Trail > Chuck Wagon Trail > Devil’s Bridge Trail

ANYWAYS, you have options is all I’m saying. I suggest reading more on hiking Devil’s Bridge so you understand what adventure might be right for you. 

Hike for Sunset or Sunrise?

Devil’s Bridge is a fantastic Sedona, Arizona hiking trail for a jaw-dropping golden sunrise. Not only is the trail less crowded, but the whole valley underneath the Bridge lights up like no other. Talk about dreamy!

Devil’s Bridge Hike Breakdown:

Devil’s Bridge Hiking Tips:

  • If you want your best shot at avoiding crowds, I highly suggest doing this best Sedona hike in the early morning for sunrise.
  • This is a popular location for photographers, so please be patient!
  • For this Sedona hiking trail, drive a 4×4 vehicle directly to Devil’s Bridge Trail if you want to cut your hike by nearly half.
  • Wear sturdy shoes because hiking on Dry Creek can be rocky!

Best Devil’s Bridge Photo Spots:

  • The only real shot to get on this Sedona hiking trail is of the Bridge itself! I feel like everyone takes the same picture, but it’s iconic.

#3: Bear Mountain Trail – Underrated Sedona, Arizona Hiking Trail

Girl standing on hiking trail in Sedona, AZ

If you’re one for hidden gems AND one of the best trails in Sedona, Bear Mountain is a must. This hike has quite the elevation gain, offering views of its sister, Doe Mountain, and other favorite Sedona spots. 

Bear Mountain Trail Hike Description

Of all the hiking trails in Sedona, AZ listed, Bear Mountain Trail is more on the strenuous side. The trail starts flat but quickly begins to climb up to the summit. It’ll test your fitness level!

The trail sometimes becomes faint, but if you keep your eyes peeled for white diamonds painted (by rangers) on the red rocks, you will have no problem making it to the top. Once you finish this hike, you’ll see one of the best panoramic views of Sedona.

I would also say that this hike is incredibly photogenic because every part of the trail is scenic. I could spend hours taking pictures there! But, honestly, out of all the trails out there, Bear Mountain makes my top two list for the best hiking in Sedona, AZ. Let me know what you feel when you go!

Hike for Sunset or Sunrise?

If you want a real adventure, you can’t beat a Bear Mountain sunrise. If you’re lucky, you might see the hot air balloons when they take off. Hot air balloons + dreamy light make for a bomb @$$ morning, therefore making this one of the best Sedona hikes.

Bear Mountain Hike Breakdown:

  • Location: 34.8983127,-111.874322
  • Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 4.3 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,975 feet
  • Parking: Limited with about 20 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunrise or sunset
  • Red Rock Pass required? Yes

Bear Mountain Hiking Tips:

  • Park at the Doe Mountain parking lot.
  • Try to hike Bear Mountain for sunrise if you can! That’s when you’ll see hot air balloons, making this one of the best hiking trails in Sedona for sunrise! Sunset is a great option too, and not very crowded.
  • Bring a headlamp with you!
  • Take your time on this Sedona hiking trail since it is steep.

Best Bear Mountain Photo Spots:

  • In my opinion, all of the best Sedona hiking photos of Bear Mountain are from the top!
  • The hot air balloons at sunrise make for some great photo ops.

#4: Soldier Pass Trail – Best Hiking Sedona Trail for Adventure Lovers

Girl walking at the Seven Sacred Pools in Sedona, AZ

Soldier Pass is another Sedona classic. Like our other popular hikes, you most likely won’t escape the crowds if you choose to go here, but it’s for a good reason. Along your hike, you’ll have the opportunity to explore three different Sedona landmarks, which we’ll get into. I’d also like to note that you will most likely see Jeep tours along the way, FYI. 

Soldier Pass Trail Hike Description

You will follow the path at the start of the trail until you reach Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole; it’s about 1/4 of a mile in. As you continue past the sinkhole and go about another 1/4 mile, you’ll come up to the Seven Sacred Pools. I love doing this hike after Sedona has had some rain because the pools will be full!

From here, you will continue to follow the trail until it loops back to your destination. As you are hiking, keep your eyes peeled for a fork in the path. If you see a tree with a sign tacked to it reading “Wilderness Area, “follow the fork to the right and climb up to some secret arches!

With its various stops along the way, I find Soldiers Pass to be some of the best hiking in Sedona and one of my favorite trails. It doesn’t get much better than a sinkhole, secret arches, and sacred pools.

Girl sitting in Soldier Pass Cave in Sedona, AZ

Hike for Sunset or Sunrise?

Truthfully, the Soldier Pass trail isn’t going to give you an insane amount of landscape views, but if you want fewer crowds and better lighting for photos, go early in the morning. Either way, this is considered one of the best Sedona hikes for the amount of viewpoints you get to see along your adventure.

Soldier Pass Hike Quick Notes:

  • Believe it or not, Devil’s Kitchen is an active sinkhole! There used to be an underground cave there, but it eventually collapsed.
  • To see the Seven Sacred Pools full, your best bet is to catch them after a rainstorm! If the rain is heavy enough, it’ll turn into a beautiful, cascading waterfall!
  • On a day with little wind, you can catch a reflection in each pool.
  • But what makes this one of the best trails in Sedona is the number of things you can see/ do like hike to the secret arches. If you have the patience to find them, I recommend checking them out!

Soldier Pass Hike Breakdown:

  • Trailhead Location: 34°53’03.4″N 111°47’01.8″W
  • Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 650 feet
  • Parking at Trail: Minimal with about 15 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunrise and golden hour after sunrise
  • Red Rock Pass Required? Yes

Soldier Pass Hiking Tips:

  • Take the Jordan Road Trailhead and make a loop that connects to the Soldier Pass Trail for fewer crowds and epic views. 
  • Another Sedona, Arizona hiking trail you can opt for is taking the Brins Mesa Trailhead to Soldier Pass.

Best Soldier Pass Photo Spots:

  • My favorite Sedona hiking photos from Soldiers Pass have always come from the Jordan Trail area! Taking Jordan Pass will give you a different perspective of this hike.
  • The Arches along this hike make for a great photo op too. Keep in mind that it’ll be dark inside the arches, so you may want to go mid-day for the best light.
  • Seven Sacred Pools is another favorite of mine and kind of a “classic”!
Girl sitting on top of Bell Rock in Sedona, AZ

Bell Rock also has some of the best hiking in Sedona! There are various trails that lead you around the rock, but today we’ll talk about getting to the top. You’ll know why Bell Rock got its name as soon as you pull up to the parking lot- the rock is a pronounced bell shape. 

Bell Rock Access Trail Hike Description

The Bell Rock Access Trail is the quickest way to get to the top of Bell Rock. It will have wooden signs leading to the Bell Rock Climb. Sometimes people get confused because there are two different parking lots you can start from, (there’s Phone Trail, Bell Rock Trail, like I already have a headache lmao) which will determine how long you hike for. I suggest starting from Courthouse Vista

PS: On some maps this parking lot is labeled as the Bell Rock Trailhead, so pay attention to what lot you’re being directed to! Your route would then look like:

Courthouse Vista Parking Lot > Bell Rock Access Trail > Bell Rock Climb

And when I say “climb,” I mean more of a scramble. However, doing so will give you a panoramic view of Sedona, making this one of the best Sedona hikes. You can completely skip this and do a Bell Rock Trail loop instead.

The view will make you believe in magic. You can feel the wind in your hair and take in the entire city of Sedona from the top. Make sure you wear good hiking shoes!

Hike for Sunset or Sunrise?

I suggest going to Bell Rock for sunrise! The rock itself turns into an incredible red color.

Bell Rock Hike Breakdown:

  • Trailhead Location: Courthouse Vista
  • Level: Moderate
  • Distance: .8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • Parking: Limited with about 20 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunrise
  • Red Rock pass required? Yes

Bell Rock Hiking Tips:

  • Like a lot of the other best trails in Sedona in this blog, try to go early! Parking is limited. 
  • Be careful climbing up Bell Rock, as the scrambling rock can be slick. 
  • Wear sunscreen and bring a hat! The trail has no shade.

Best Bell Rock Photo Spots:

  • Again, the best Sedona hiking photos of Bell Rock are from the top! There is an overlook most folks sit at.
  • You can also get some fantastic action shots of yourself or another scrambling on the rocks!

#6: Red Rock Crossing – Easy Hiking Trails in Sedona That Feature Water

Red Rock Crossing in Sedona, AZ at sunset

You MUST do Red Rock Crossing if you only have one day to explore the area. It is a part of the Oak Creek riverfront that acts as a swimming hole and will give you incredible views of Cathedral Rock in Sedona.

In my opinion, the best time to visit is during sunset. However, you must note that this Sedona hiking trail can be a photographer’s hot spot at that time. So prepare for it to be busy if you want great light! There are a few ways to go about this so hear me out. All are easy hiking trails in Sedona, AZ, by the way.

Red Rock Crossing from Verde Valley Road

For starters, park at the Baldwin Trailhead (also a great place to hike up to the Cathedral Rock summit, which we discussed earlier) to start your hike. Hang a left and walk down Verde Valley road until you get to the creek. Depending on what time of day you go, you’ll undoubtedly see other visitors swimming here, so you’ll know that you’re in the right place. I’d also like to point out that this is one of the best Sedona hikes for swimming, so it may be busy in hotter months!

Typically during the hotter months, the water level is relatively low, giving you the option to cross the creek and walk into the picnic site area (which we will discuss next). 

Coming from Verde Valley Road, cross the creek, and walk towards the right, you’ll get closer to Cathedral Rock and the famous water slide area people usually like to hang out by. This is otherwise known as Buddha Beach. The water access point and the view of Cathedral make it one of the best hiking trails in Sedona, especially for first timers!

Red Rock Crossing via Baldwin Trail to Templeton Trail

Now, if you want more of an adventure, park at the Baldwin Trailhead and hike until you get to the Red Rock Crossing Trail junction. When you reach this junction, hang a right and stay on Baldwin Trail. You will need to stay on the path until it goes into Templeton Trail. Red Rock Crossing (Buddha Beach) is under a mile from the Templeton Trail x Baldwin Trail junction. This whole excursion is a little over half a mile. I PERSONALLY think that parking at Baldwin Trailhead and walking Verde Valley Road to Red Rock crossing is a bit less of a hassle, but I can’t dock anyone for wanting more of an adventure!

Red Rock Crossing from Crescent Moon Day Use Site

If everything I just said about the Baldwin area is too much of a hassle, no problem! You can get to Red Rock Crossing without parking in the Baldwin lot. Instead, drive to the Crescent Moon Day Use Site and pay the $11 fee to get in! 

To get to the crossing area, you will walk on a sidewalk. Please note that this area is CASH ONLY. Be prepared. Choosing the picnic area route is the easiest way to get to Red Rock Crossing, but that means many more people will choose this option. That’s why I like to park at Baldwin and walk for a bit. Plus, I save myself $6 (purchase a Red Rock Pass at Baldwin, which is $5 over the $11 picnic fee). 

Sometimes folks will park at the picnic area then go to Baldwin Trail for a hike up to Cathedral Rock (which we mentioned was one of the best Sedona hikes) then come back down to chill at Red Rock Crossing post hike. How you want to do it is up to you!

Red Rock Crossing Hike Breakdown (Verde Valley Road):

  • Trailhead Location: Baldwin Trailhead / 34°49’18.8″N 111°48’29.0″W
  • Level: One of the easy hikes in Sedona, AZ
  • Distance: .2 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 50 feet
  • Parking at Trail: Minimal with about 15 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunset

Red Rock Crossing Hiking Tips:

  • Visit Red Rock Crossing at sunset for the best light!
  • Take a swimsuit with you – you can go for a dip here!
  • Bypass the hike and go to the picnic area for a chill day.

Best Red Rock Crossing Photo Spots:

  • On the way to Red Rock Crossing, there are some fantastic vistas – keep an eye out!
  • The most iconic image from here is a reflection of Cathedral Rock, which is why many consider this one of the best trails in Sedona.
  • From experience, I’ve found that sunset has the best light!

#7: Birthing Cave – Unique Hike in Sedona

Girl standing in the Birthing Cave in Sedona, AZ

Known for having sacred powers, the Birthing Cave is a Sedona local’s favorite. So when Scott and I first saw a picture of this cave, we knew we HAD to go. I love it for its tear-drop shape.

Birthing Cave Hike Description

Before I get into the trail info, I want to note something important: PLEASE be quiet and respectful when you are here! Women from all around will come to this cave hoping that it will give them a better chance at having a healthy pregnancy. Others believe it has healing powers. Whether or not you believe this to be true, respect others’ time and allow them to enjoy the cave as they please.

You will begin your hike on Long Canyon Trailhead No. 122. Parking is limited, so your best bet is to find ample parking space along the side of the main road. Once parked, you will find that the trail is flat and wide with no elevation gain.

Continue hiking for about 0.6 miles until you reach a fork. Go left towards the red cliffs! Once you get up close and personal to the wall, you’ll be able to see the cave from below. Keep an eye out for a small hiking trail that will lead directly to it. The trail is steep and will require you to bushwack a bit.

Now that you’re there, you can take in the view! If you’d like, you can even crawl up to the “belly button” in the cave to get the best vantage point for photos. Once you’re in the cave, you’ll notice how unique it is and might also consider it one of the best Sedona hikes! I didn’t hike this trail for years then it finally made my “must-see” list about two years ago – the Birthing Cave is simply jaw-dropping!

Hike for Sunrise or Sunset?

Sunrise offers some great lighting in the area. Either way, photographing the cave will be a bit of a challenge because the view of the valley will be incredibly bright while the inside of the cave will be dark.

Birthing Cave Hike Breakdown:

  • Trailhead Location: Long Canyon Trailhead 34°54’24.0″N 111°49’27.5″W
  • Level: Easy hike in Sedona, AZ
  • Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: ~400ft
  • Parking at Trail: Minimal
  • Best Light: Sunset or sunrise

Birthing Cave Hiking Tips:

  • It’s tear-drop shape is what makes the Birthing Cave hike one of the best trails in Sedona, but don’t be fooled! The cave is HUGE. You’re going to want an ultra-wide lens. I had a Canon 16-35mm, and that still wasn’t enough! You may have to stitch multiple photos together.
  • You will have to bushwack a bit to get to the cave, so wear layers that’ll protect you.
  • Again, please be respectful of the cave and trail. Leave it better than you found it.

Best Birthing Cave Photo Spots:

  • To get a wide shot of the cave, you will have to crawl into the “womb” hole and use a wide lens. 
  • I love to sit on the left of the cave to create a sense of scale in images.
  • Early morning light and sunset are the best – the peaks in the distance of this Sedona hiking trail will light up!

#8 Doe Mountain – Easy Trail in Sedona

Girl standing in the Birthing Cave in Sedona, AZ

Doe Mountain is so underrated, and if I were you, I’d consider hiking Doe Mountain for sunrise!

Doe Mountain Hike Description

The hike is pretty short (a bit over a mile long), with an elevation gain of around 400ft. When you get to the top, you will have 360 views of Sedona! 

If you want a unique Sedona experience, I suggest you have a picnic at the top of Doe Mountain. That seems pretty extra, but the mountain’s top is relatively flat and has enough room for you to chill. Because of how easy it is to hike, Doe Mountain could also be considered one of the best Sedona hikes for families and beginners alike.

Hike for Sunrise or Sunset?

I have enjoyed both from Doe Mountain! However, sunrise will give you the most glow in the valley.

Girl standing on top of Doe Mountain in Sedona, AZ-2

Doe Mountain Hike Breakdown:

  • Trailhead Location: Doe Mountain / Bear Mountain Parking Lot
  • Trail length: 1.7mi RT
  • Elevation Gain: 430ft
  • Difficulty: One of the easy trails in Sedona, AZ
  • Best Time to Hike: Sunrise or sunset for the best photos
  • Red Rock Pass Required?: Yes
  • Parking: Parking is available and easy to get to

Doe Mountain Hiking Tips

  • Avoid this trail when it is raining since it can get slippery!
  • There is little to no shade on the trail, so wear sunscreen.

Best Doe Mountain Photo Spots

  • The top of Doe Mountain is FULL of photo spots. You can take pics anywhere.

More Hiking Trails in Sedona – Trails 9 -13

Sunset in Sedona AZ

Now that we’ve covered some of the “must-see” hikes for first-time visitors let’s talk about more of the best hiking trails in Sedona, AZ to add to your list!

  • #9 Boynton Canyon Trail – 6.1 miles round trip. This trail offers excellent vista views of Sedona and a cave!
  • #10 Courthouse Butte Loop / Bell Rock Pathway – 3.9 mile loop. You can hike to one of the viewpoints like Bell Rock, but doing the loop will give you the best vantage points and photo opportunities!
  • #11 Airport Mesa Trail – 3.2 miles round trip. This trail offers an iconic view of Sedona and is very photogenic at sunset.
  • #12 Loy Canyon Trail to Loy Butte – 9.8-miles round trip and will give you views of ruins.
  • #13 West Fork Trail – 7.2 miles round trip. You can backpack this trail, and there is a very scenic campsite at the end! Also great for fall colors.

Easy Hikes in Sedona – Trails 14 – 16

Dogs sitting on top of mountain in Sedona, AZ

Now, if you’re not in the mood to hike five-plus miles with a crazy amount of elevation gain, you’re in luck because there are a few easy hikes in Sedona, AZ I recommend! 

  • #14 Fay Canyon Trail – 2.4 miles round trip. You will see arches and fantastic views of red rocks!
  • #15 Teacup/ Sugar Loaf Summit – 1.9 miles round trip. Beautiful views of giant mountains in Sedona.
  • #16 Marg’s Draw – 2 miles round trip. Rugged peaks and remarkable red rocks.

Best Hikes in Sedona, AZ for Photo Lovers

If you’re wanting to know the best Sedona hikes for capturing jaw-dropping images, I recommend looking into the below trails. They each offer unique views that won’t disappoint.

  • West Fork Trail
  • Cathedral Rock
  • Bear Mountain
  • Birthing Cave
  • Devil’s Bridge
  • Airport Mesa Trail
  • Red Rock Crossing

Best Hiking Trails in Sedona for Sunrise and Sunset

Girl sitting at a viewpoint of Cathedral Rock in Sedona for sunset

If you’re in a pinch and need some help deciding what best trails in Sedona will be best for sunset and sunrise, I GOT U. Below are shortlisted you can refer back to when you need some quick trail recommendations.

Best Sedona, AZ Hiking Trails for Sunset

  • Cathedral Rock
  • Airport Mesa Trail
  • Red Rock Crossing

Best Sedona, AZ Hiking Trails for Sunrise

  • Devil’s Bridge
  • Bear Mountain
  • Bell Rock
  • Sugar Loaf
  • Doe Mountain

Top Hikes in Sedona Map

What would a Dani The Explorer blog be without a map? So below, you’ll find a Google Map I created to use during your trip to the best hiking in Sedona. It marks where each trailhead is!

Sedona, AZ Hiking Tips

Okay, so I’ve been going on about hiking trails in Sedona for over half of my life. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind before you go! Below are my top tips for when you head to this part of the desert.

#1: Stay on Trail

Please stay on the trail! Some of the top hikes in Sedona, AZ have precious little beings living in the soil, invisible to the naked eye but CRUCIAL to the ecosystem. When you step off the trail, this can seriously harm the wildlife.

#2: Wear Sunscreen

Sedona is a part of the desert, after all, and it can get so hot! Would you mind wearing sunscreen to protect yourself? Unfortunately, a lot of Sedona, Arizona hiking trails don’t have shade.

#3: Drink Water

Again, since you’re in the desert, please drink water! Dehydrating can seriously ruin your entire trip and could also lead to death.

#4: Be Patient

Sedona is a popular hiking spot, which means you might not have a trail to yourself. So be patient and try to hike early to avoid crowds! You’ll also have a better chance of getting parking if you walk early in the morning or late afternoon.

#5: Bring the Right Camera Gear

For your Sedona hiking trip, I suggest you bring a good camera and a variety of lenses! Of course, you WILL want to take photos. 

Sedona Trails: Know Before You Go

Sunset in Sedona AZ-2

Ready to head to Sedona like yesterday? Here are all of the things you need to know before you embark on the best Sedona hikes!

Where is Sedona?

The city of Sedona is located in Northern Arizona and is about an hour’s drive south of Flagstaff. Because of the vibrant red color of the landscape, this part of Arizona is Red Rock Country, and it’s INCREDIBLE. All of the best trails in Sedona you go on will feature a desert landscape like no other.

And when you get there, you’ll automatically notice an array of hiking options, from family-friendly hikes to more difficult backcountry Sedona, AZ hiking. All of them are great!

How to Get to Sedona

There are a few ways to go about getting to all of the best hiking in Sedona. First, you can either fly into Flagstaff, rent a car, and drive about an hour. Your second option is to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor and drive about two hours. Finally, your third and most expensive option is to fly directly into Sedona! I always recommend flying into Phoenix simply because you can take a whole Arizona road trip

How Long to Stay in Sedona

There are seriously SO many hiking trails in Sedona, AZ that will blow you away, as you can tell. However, if you want to do a majority of them, I recommend staying for four days! Four days will give you time to plan for bad weather, and you’ll allow yourself to have a rest day in between hiking too! You can also opt to stay for a weekend, which is a popular choice amongst travelers. 

When is the Best Hiking in Sedona?

If you can, avoid the summer! Summer temperatures can be upwards of 90 degrees. However, the months from October to March offer cool temps and are some of the most popular times to visit Sedona! 

Where to Stay in Sedona

Lucky for you, lots of trails mean lots of visitors, which means plenty of hotel and accommodation options in Sedona, AZ! Below are a couple of options I recommend for your stay.

  • $$$$ – Enchantment Resort – Amazing spa resort that will take your breath away! If you’re celebrating something special, this would be the perfect stay!
  • $$$ – Courtyard Marriott, Sedona – Scott and I stayed here for his birthday and I HIGHLY recommend it. They have a gorgeous outdoor seating area that is the perfect place to watch the sunset.
  • $$ – Desert Quail Inn – Great place to stay if you want to be in the center of town and plan on spending most of your time out and about!

Best Hiking in Sedona: My Final Thoughts

Sedona, Arizona is a MUST for those coming to this state for the first time. Sedona is such a hiker-friendly city that when you arrive, I know you’ll be busy visiting so many different Sedona trails! If you have questions or use one of my recommendations for the best Sedona hikes, be sure to leave a comment! And happy hiking!

Girl and dog standing on top of Sugar Loaf Trail in Sedona, AZ-2

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  1. Marika Longpre says:

    I went to Sedona last summer and I loved it. I love what you do and your blog is amazing.

  2. Mandy Gommerud says:

    Hey! Question for you – the Soldier’s Pass gate apparently doesn’t open until 8am – did you go at sunrise anyway? Were you able to get past the gate? We’re planning on sunrise this Saturday. Thanks!

    • Dani Rodriguez says:

      Hi Mandy! Great question. I recommend going to “Jordan Trail”. To my knowledge, Jordan Trail doesn’t have a gate. It also offers a more scenic view of the entire area. You can always call the visitors center and check on this just in case. In the past, I was able to go through Jordan trail for sunrise!

  3. Joselyn says:

    Love you’re site! Planning a trip with my boyfriend in June. We heard it’s really hot in June? Too hot to do these hikes in day? If not any recommendations for things to do when it’s that hot would be greatly appreciated.

    • Ken says:

      Too hot is subjective. Bring plenty of water, a hat, sun glasses, and sunscreen and proper clothing and you should be fine provided you are fit and healthy enough for a given hike.

  4. Kylee says:

    Devil’s Bridge was my favorite hike. Looking at pictures I thought the bridge was very narrow, however getting there I was surprised at how wide it actually was! One guy hung off the side and scared the living daylights out of me! ….he lived.

  5. Crystal says:

    Thank you so much for this blog! I’m here in Sedona right now! I am so grateful and honored to be here! I came in from California and everyone has had such beautiful energy and has been so kind! Thank you for all the tips I making notes for my next trip later this year!!

  6. marcia says:

    hi, I never been to Sedona…have airfare from NYC to AZ first week in September. Hope weather will be nice. my companion is not much of a hiker but I love it. do I need to rent a car when I get there to go to all these places for hiking or do they have tours that will pick me up at the hotel?

  7. Sheila Mutascio says:

    Hi – Have you hiked Shamans cave? If you have would you be interested or no someone that would hike it with me. that knows this cave possible a sunset hike. I will be in Sedona 9/11/1- through 9/19/19

    Thank you

  8. Amazing pictures and great choices for the hikes! So much to do in Sedona and you nailed it!

  9. Lexi says:

    Thanks this is amazing! Quick question: why isn’t Merry-Go-around on this and have you been there? Do you know what it’s like at sunrise? Any help would be so appreciated!

    • Dani Rodriguez says:

      Hey Lexi! I have been up there, but I didn’t hike! I took the off-roading route, however. I’m not sure what it’s like up there for sunrise but I have seen it at sunset and had a great experience 🙂

  10. Sarah R Wood says:

    Awesome info, you are so thorough! Hiked The Birthing Cave and Westfork the last couple days, unbelievable experience!
    Curious your suggestions for dslr cameras to capture the best color without the sun bleaching everything out. I’m having trouble with this. I don’t do a lot of post editing, the sun is so bright (not complaining) I’m getting a lot of washed out shots.
    Thanks for such a detailed blog, really helpful for my first Sedona trip????

  11. angie says:

    Hi Thanks for the advice. I am curious though for Birthing Cave – it’s marked as a good Sunset hike. Would you be facing East when you’re at the cave though, so as to not see the sunset?

  12. Ryan M says:

    I appreciate the list but I’m only seeing numbers 1 through 7? Where is 8 through 16?

  13. Nimit Patel says:

    This has to be one of the most detailed and informative articles I’ve come across on Sedona. We are heading there in a couple weeks for my wife’s birthday. Thanks for sharing the specific details and beautiful photographs.

    Are there any other hikes you’ve come to know since writing this article that would be good for sunsets that you can simply drive to/only short walk? I only ask to avoid hiking back in the dark.

  14. Monica says:

    If you go for a sunset hike will you be walking back in the dark?

  15. Hairstyles says:

    Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your web-site is very cool. I’m impressed by the details that you抳e on this website. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched all over the place and just couldn’t come across. What an ideal web site.

  16. Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!