Beautiful Jim Thompson Trail in Sedona AZ

One of Sedona’s lesser known trails is the beautiful Jim Thompson trail. This lack of tourist traffic makes this beautiful hike all the more appealing. Featuring amazing views of the Steamboat Rock formation, as well as a surprising amount of greenery for the area, it really is a nice little photogenic hike.

In the late 1800’s, Jim Thompson built this trail to connect his 2 homes in Oak Creek and what we know today as Sedona. Fortunately, today we all get to enjoy the mesmerizing red rock views via this peaceful trail.

Outstanding views on the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
Gorgeous views along the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ

You’ll also find a nice diversity of plant life and even some wildflowers along this trail!

Prickly pear on the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
Cactus along the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
Pretty wildflowers along the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
Pretty wildflowers at the start of the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ

Cairn trail markings are easy to follow. Many Sedona trails are inadequately marked, and thus, quite confusing to follow. This trail is mostly flat, making it a good choice for anyone who is interested in getting in a longer, yet easy workout. Views are fantastic the entire way. You will want your camera for this one! The Jim Thompson is a really peaceful and relaxing Sedona option. On a beautiful mild summer day, we saw no more than 5 total hikers. Jim Thompson is one of the more hassle-free hiking options in the area – easy to get to, easy to find parking, and low traffic on the trail itself.

Cairn marking the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
Look for these handy cairns which will guide you in the right direction.
A view o an uphill portion of the Jim Thompson Trail in Sedona AZ
No a soul in sight – just gorgeous red rock scenery!

Because this hike does not have one standout element (like the Devil’s Bridge arch or Vultee Arch), it tends not to get as overcrowded with tourists. Luckily, this means a more peaceful nature trek and better photo opportunities without all the crowds in the way. The highlight comes near the end of the trail where you will enjoy a great view of Midgley Bridge.

Great overview from the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
Beautiful Midgley Bridge in the distance.

Steamboat Rock formation

This hike offers the best views of the notable Steamboat Rock formation. All of Sedona’s rock formations receive unique names based on the shape they resemble. While some of the rock formations do not look anything like their name, Steamboat actually looks like a boat. You will get a really good up close look at it from this trail.

Steamboat rock formation seen from the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
A close up of the steam boat rock formation. Can you make out the shape?

How long will it take?

The trail is quite long – about 2.6 miles each way. Plan at least 2-3 hours for this hike. Because of the summer heat and longish distance, you will want to save this one for the milder spring and fall season.

If you are up for a longer hike, you can connect to the beautiful Wilson Canyon trail at the end point of the trail. This gorgeous shady hike is well worth considering for the beautiful tree coverage. The cooler fall season would be the perfect time to embark on a longer hike through the beautiful Red Rock wilderness.

To Wilson Canyon trail from the Jim Thompson trail in Sedona AZ
Stunning views along Sedona's Wilson Canyon trail
Continue on to the Wilson Canyon trail for more stunning views!

Overall, Jim Thompson is one of the nicer longer hikes in the area. The path is well marked, picturesque, and quiet enough that you can hear yourself think. What more could you ask for in a Sedona nature experience?

Location & Additional Info

Address: I highly recommend parking at the Jordan Road trailhead as opposed to Midgley Bridge. The bridge parking lot is a popular starting point for several trails, and it is near impossible to find a parking spot especially if you arrive past mid-morning. To get to the Jordan Road parking, take 89A north to Jordan Road (it will be on your left after about 0.3 miles). Continue on Jordan Road until reaching Park Ridge Drive until reaching the trailhead parking lot.

Distance: 2.6 miles each way

Time: 2.5-3 hours

Difficulty: Fairly easy as it’s pretty flat, although it could be a bit more difficult for anyone not used to longer hikes, as well as those hiking it in the hot summer season.

Parking fee: A Red Rock Pass ($5 per day) or Annual America the Beautiful Pass (recommend).

Amenities: A restroom is available at the trailhead. Be aware that there is no water, so you will need to bring your own (and plenty of it!).

Pet friendly: Yes. Leashed dogs okay.

Tips: Bring plenty of water, stock your backpack with a few snacks, avoid hiking during the heat of the day, and purchase an Annual Parks pass which is good at all Sedona trails as well as other national parks.

More info on the Jim Thompson trail