The most scenic Sedona hikes

It’s no secret that Sedona is home to some o the most jaw dropping scenery in the country. Known as Red Rock Country for the colorful red rock formations that dominate the landscape, Sedona is increasingly becoming a popular vacation & 2nd home destination for photographers, nature lovers, hikers, & mountain bikers. Sedona is home to hundreds of miles of trails, some easy, some difficult, yet all loaded with magnificent views of the surrounding million year old ancient rocks.

Gorgeous scenery along the Devil's Bridge hiking trail in Sedona, Arizona

With so many spectacular hikes to choose amongst, picking out a fantastic hike suited to your ability level can be quite an overwhelming trip experience, especially if you have no idea in mind beforehand. To prevent yourself from unnecessary research and stress during your vacation (let’s keep it relaxing!), I have compiled a list of my 12 favorite hikes in Sedona by narrowing down the list to those with the most stunning views. These 12 hikes are the best-of-the- best – no small feat in an area overloaded with so many picturesque trails. Enjoy your vacation and be sure to pick out a trail or 2 from my list to ensure that you enjoy the best Sedona has to offer!

1. Devil’s Bridge

Devil's Bridge arch in Sedona, Arizona

Devil’s Bridge is by far the standout trail in Sedona. This one is definitely number one if you are limited on time. While not the easiest, nor hardest trail in town, Devil’s Bridge definitely wins the award for offering the most jaw dropping scenery. What makes this trail so fascinating is the incredible ending view of Sedona’s largest natural sandstone arch. This is the only arch that you can actually walk across (that is if you are not scared of heights!).

The 2 mile round-trip (6 miles if you do not have a high clearance vehicle as you will have to park at another trail head) is a moderately easy journey with a few steep inclines and scrambling up rocks to get to the ending arch. The hike is relaxing (despite the popularity) with plenty of wide open vistas of the gorgeous rock formations. Standing on the arch while having someone take your photo on the other end is the number 1 must-do in Sedona: a fantastic souvenir photo that beats any man-made souvenir you will find in the tourist shops dominating Uptown Sedona!

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1 mile out-and-back from the main parking lot (requires a high clearance vehicle & is almost always full) or 3 miles out-and-back from the Dry Creek Vista trailhead.
Location: Dry Creek Rd Sedona, AZ 86336
More info & pics from the Devil’s Bridge hike

2. Cookstove

Amazing overview of Oak Creek Canyon from the Cookstove hiking trail

The Cookstove Trail is one of the little known gems in the area, most likely due to the easily missed location along Oak Creek Canyon drive. A minuscule trailhead sign does not help matters, not to mention the fact that most tourists are so absorbed with the magnificent views along Arizona’s most scenic drive that it is very easy to miss the trailhead sign. Featuring amazing overlooks of the entire Oak Creek region, the peaceful Cookstove hike is a must-do for anyone up for a challenge. And a challenge it is, as this hike requires a very steep 0.7 mile climb.

Keep on going and you will be rewarded with magnificent panoramas of the entire Oak Creek Canyon area, a diverse ecosystem consisting of colorful rock formations and lush green forests of ponderosa pines, sycamore, and cypress trees. For your immense effort, you will enjoy some of the top views of any hike in the Northern Arizona region. And do not forget to fill up your water bottle with natural spring water at the tap located just across the road (also where you will park your car). Treat yourself to a healthy breakfast at Indian Gardens pre-hike, located just a few miles down the road.

Difficulty: Hard due to the steep inclines & high elevation
Distance: 1.4 miles round-trip
Location: Milepost 387 on Hwy 89a (Oak Creek Canyon drive). Notice the parking area near the spring water tap (you will see many other cars parked along the side due to the popularity of this natural spring).
More info & pics from the Cookstove Trail

3. Teacup/ Sugarloaf Summit Trail

Stunning views from the Teacup trail in Sedona

Sedona’s Teacup Trail is what I consider to be one of the best values in town for several reasons. This hike is close to town, does not require an annoying drive down a dirt road to get to the trail-head, and offers some stunning scenery without any steep climbing required. At just a little over 2 miles round-trip with just a few minor inclines, it is easy enough for the beginning hiker. The nice aspect of this trail is the unique scenery – you really get to enjoy some views here that you will not find along any of the other trails.

Along this fabulous trail, you will get to take in awe-inspiring vistas of Sedona’s stunning rock formations. This hike in particular will give you the best views of Coffeepot Rock (named as so because it resembles a coffeepot). If you look closely at the photo above, you can make out the coffee spout and lid. Also, you have the option of connecting this trail with the Sugarloaf Summit trail. Sugarloaf is a short, yet steep 0.2 mile climb up to an amazing overlook with more breathtaking 360 degree red rock vistas in every direction. It’s a must-do if you are up for a little more of a challenge.

Difficulty: Easy (Moderate if you combine with the Sugarloaf Summit)
Distance: 1.3 miles out-and-back or 2 mile loop if combining Sugarloaf
Location: Buena Vista Dr Sedona, AZ 86336
More info & pics from the Teacup/Sugarloaf Trail

4. Airport Mesa

Great views from the summit of the Airport Mesa loop hiking trail in Sedona, Arizona

Airport Mesa is one of 4 Sedona hiking vortex sites. Returning Sedona visitors likely already know about vortexes. And, if you have never visited Sedona before, you will likely know what a vortex is before you leave. Pick up any visitors brochure, browse through a local paper, or stop in a specialty shop and you are bound to come across the term at some point. A vortex is basically believed to be an area of intense concentrated energy rising from the earth. Each vortex supposedly can provide healing & energy balancing to whomever comes across it.

Vortexes have become very popular in recent years as more visitors report a sense of healing & inner peace when coming in contact with these powerful natural energy sources. The Sedona New Age community continues to grow, and those seeking spiritual healing continue to make Sedona a spiritual vacation destination.

Airport Mesa is a yang masculine vortex (vortexes are masculine or feminine), which means that you may feel energized or motivated. Feminine yin vortexes (like Cathedral Rock) are reportedly great for those seeking relaxation. Airport Mesa happens to be one of the most stunning hikes scenery-wise, with 360 degree views of many prominent formations. This hike is not one for scaredy cats as there are some really steep narrow sections in the beginning, so be forewarned. Recently saw a few people mountain biking and not quite sure how they survived!

Difficulty: Moderate (not much elevation gain, but feels long especially with the summer heat)
Distance: 3.5 mile loop. Note you may have to park in the overflow lot and complete a short side trail to get to the main trail. This will add an extra 1.2 miles to your total).
Location: Airport Rd Sedona, AZ 86340
More info & pics on the Airport Mesa Loop trail

5. Fay Canyon

Towering red rock views along the Fay Canyon trail in Sedona, Arizona

Fay Canyon is a short little trek which really packs in a lot of big views. This is a short-but-sweet hike if there ever was one. For anyone seeking an relaxing, low-key trail, Fay Canyon is one of your best bets. Although it is one of the easier trails in town, it also happens to be one of the most picturesque. Towering red rock formations and a stroll through the lush Red Rock Secret Wilderness (consisting of a diverse ecosystem of plants), along with opportunity to see wildlife (notice the black bear warning signs!) greet you on this wonderful 3 mile journey through the Sedona wilderness.

A short detour about a 1/2 mile in takes you to a natural arch. It makes the hike a bit harder, but is worth the extra effort if you are looking for a bit more of a challenge!

Difficulty: Easy (a bit more difficult if you complete the side arch trail)
Distance: 1.5 miles out-and-back
Location: Boynton Pass Rd Sedona, AZ 86336
More info & pics from the Fay Canyon Trail

6. Soldiers Pass

3 natural arches along the Soldier's Pass trail in Sedona, Arizona

Soldier’s Pass is one of the more exciting trails in Sedona as you will get to enjoy a number of interesting natural features including 7 sacred pools (a series of 7 natural pools carved out of the sandstone), 3 natural arches, and Sedona’s most active natural sinkhole. On an interesting side note, Apache and Yavapai tribes considered these pools sacred because they were a source of year-round drinking water in the arid desert.

This trail is a bit long at about 2.25 miles each way, although the hike itself is relatively easy. Fortunately, no major climbing is involved. It’s close to town, although stays a bit quieter than the more popular trails. This trail is unique as the landscape changes quite frequently, as you find yourself leisurely strolling through the leafy, shady Red Rock Wilderness one minute, and then venturing out into the wide open vistas and enjoying the amazing red rock formations the next. It’s a must-do for anyone seeking a relaxing longer hike with gorgeous diverse views & unique natural attractions.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.25 miles out-and-back
Location: Rim Shadows Drive Sedona, AZ 86336 (Drive 0.2 miles on this road until you come across the gated trailhead). Parking is extremely limited. It is recommended to take the free Sedona shuttle.
More info & pics from the Soldier’s Pass Trail 

7. Little Horse

Pretty overlook at the end of the Little Horse trail in Sedona

Little Horse is an enjoyable little Sedona workout, which is quite popular with both locals and first time tourists. This trail is just 3 miles and pretty flat, making it suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Because it is so short, it should not take you more than 1.5-2 hours. This means you will have plenty of time to explore more in Sedona as opposed to being knocked off your feet for the rest of the day. It is one of the better choices for new Sedona visitors. The trail is quite enjoyable with magnificent scenery & is well marked (unlike Soldier’s Pass and many others). As an added bonus, the trailhead parking lot is rather large, so usually no need to wait for a spot.

Beautiful views of the notable Courthouse and Cathedral Rock formations will leave you in awe along the way. The ending view known as Chicken Point is absolutely stunning overlook with red rocks surrounding you in every direction. Take some time to savor the views for a bit before continuing on with the return journey!

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.5 miles out-and-back
Location: Milepost 309.8 on Hwy 179
More info & pics from the Little Horse Trail

8. Doe Mountain

Amazing scenery from Sedona's Doe Mountain trail

Doe Mountain is a wonderful intermediate Sedona trail which involves climbing 0.7 miles to the top of a mesa, with great views going up, and even better views atop. It’s a gorgeous hike requiring a bit of a steep climb up a series of switchbacks, although not all that bad considering the tradeoff of stunning views and limited crowds. From the top, you will enjoy 360 degree, uninterrupted views of so many wonderful Sedona landmarks including Wilson and Bear mountain, along with Boynton and Secret Canyon. With stunning red rock vistas, no more than moderate effort required, peace & quiet, ease of parking, and low congestion, Doe Mountain is a bucket list contender for sure.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 0.7 miles out-and-back (add a mile or so if you plan to take a self guided walk around the top of the mesa)
Location: 97-99 Callisto Ct Sedona, AZ 86336

9. Boynton Canyon

Stunning views from the Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona Arizona

Boynton Canyon, a picturesque trail through a box canyon, is one of the most exciting and diverse trails in the area. As the elevation varies throughout this trail, it is not rare to find yourself sweating in the open red rocks one minute and then possibly walking through a forest of snow the next! The gorgeous forest scenery includes a diverse assortment of trees including ponderosa pines and oaks, and is one of the few areas to see colorful fall foliage. Black bears and mountain lions both call the area home, although you are unlikely to see these shy creatures who tend to avoid humans.

The trail is a bit long (about 6 miles round-trip), although the journey is very relaxing with rewarding views all around, especially near the ending climb! Like the Airport Mesa trail, Boynton Canyon is also a vortex site. Boynton Canyon possesses both masculine & feminine energies, providing a yin/yang balance. Whether any spiritual energy actually exists, the hike itself is energizing and refreshing, giving you the rare opportunity to enjoy a variety of exciting landscapes within one hike, ranging from peaceful wilderness forest one minute to colorful red rock vistas the next.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.7 miles out-and-back
Location: Dry Creek Road Sedona, AZ 86340
More info & views from the Boynton Canyon Trail

10. Eagle’s Nest Loop at Red Rock State Park

Gorgeous scenery at Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona

Red Rock State Park shines as one of the region’s overlooked hidden gems. For some reason, it does not draw nearly as much traffic as you would expect. At Red Rock, you will come across 5 miles of family friendly trails which are well marked and easy-moderate in intensity. Eagle’s Nest Loop is the most scenic of the bunch. Oak Creek flows through the park and provides a unique habitat for both plants and wildlife. Birdwatching is a popular pastime. Keep a look out for all sorts of wildlife including javelina and bobcat.

On a side note, Red Rock SP offers a variety of fun family events throughout the year including guided hikes. Be sure to check out the schedule during your visit as these guided hikes are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the diverse flora & fauna found in Sedona. Eagles Nest consists of a 2 mile trek to the highest point in the park. Nothing too difficult here, and the views are incredible – it’s a great bang-for-your-buck trail! Any new visitor will definitely want to plan a visit to Red Rock SP – it’s the perfect way to start your trip. Trails range from a easy 1/2 mile trek to a more challenging climb to Eagle’s Nest, or you can connect them all for a 5 mile loop.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2 mile loop
Location: 4050 Red Rock Loop Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336
More info & pics from Red Rock State Park

11. Templeton Trail

Beautiful red rock and creek views along the Templeton Trail in Sedona AZ

The Templeton Trail at Cathedral Rock is a nice short & less risky alternative than the challenging (and scary!) scramble up Cathedral Rock (especially for those not keen on heights). While completing the challenging climb up Cathedral rewards with awe-inspiring scenery, it is a bit scary & even dangerous. The Templeton is a worthwhile scenic alternative, a hidden treasure in Sedona as it is passed over in favor of the Cathedral hike by almost all visitors, thereby making it a local favorite!

With lush greenery, gorgeous views of flowing Oak Creek, and of course, stunning red rock scenery, Templeton is just as scenic (and even more so due to the creek views) than the more popular Cathedral. This hike wins the award for most relaxing due to the picturesque creek views and low foot traffic. And, at just 2 miles total, the Templeton Trail is a great choice for nearly every Sedona visitor.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1 mile out-and-back
Location: Back O’ Beyond Rd Sedona, AZ 86336
More info & pics from the Templeton Trail

12. Wilson Canyon

Breathtaking views from Wilson Canyon trail in Sedona AZ

Wilson Canyon is a short enjoyable hike which starts at the very popular Midgley Bridge. This is one of the most popular destinations in Sedona due to the amazing photo opportunities, access to a number of scenic hiking trails, and short walking distance to the creek to cool down during the hot summer season. Be aware that the parking lot gets packed by mid morning, so you will want to set off on your hike very early to ensure a spot!

The Wilson Canyon trail involves an easy stroll through the shady Red Rock Secret Wilderness. While leisurely strolling this flat trail, you will be surrounded by shrub oaks and Arizona cypress, making it a perfect shady choice for the warm summer season. Also a nice choice for fall leaf peeping. The trail starts and ends with some magnificent red rock scenery.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.5 miles each way
Location: Midgley Bridge parking lot of 89a  Sedona, AZ 86336
More info & pics from the Wilson Canyon Trail

Tips for a great hike

Visit during the off season, if possible. Hiking is much more enjoyable without tons of foot traffic.

Carry lots of water and snacks on any hike. A camelbak works well in dry desert climates where you need to drink extra water.

Avoid hiking in the summer season, if possible. It’s really hot and there is not much shade. If you do hike, keep it short, get out there early, and drink plenty of water.

Purchase a Red Rock weekly pass to save a few bucks. If you plan on visiting multiple national parks in the upcoming year, do consider purchasing the annual America the Beautiful pass.

Check out this list of dog friendly hikes. Most Sedona hikes allow leashed dogs. Red Rock State Park is one of the few exceptions.

Enjoy a healthy breakfast before your hike and a healthy lunch to refuel. Check out my list of the best restaurants in Sedona.

Check out more great hikes in the Coconino National Forest of Sedona