The scenic Little Horse Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Little Horse Trail, one of the numerous hiking options within the Coconino National Forest of Sedona, is a moderate trail which is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Despite the short distance, this trail provides an amazing look into Sedona’s majestic red rock landscape. If you are new to the area, Little Horse trail is a great place to start your journey!

Due to the wonderful views, conveniently marked trail (many trails in the area are a bit confusing), and short distance, Little Horse is the perfect choice for new Sedona visitors. It’s not the easiest, nor most difficult hike in the region, although you will get in a great workout, all while taking in amazing views! The 3 mile round-trip journey does not feel so long when you are surrounded by such wonderful views.

Stunning Red Rock Formations

This trail provides one of the most spectacular viewpoints of Courthouse Butte, a formation with an elevation of 5440 feet. Along the way you will also take in fabulous views of Bell Rock and 2 Nuns (pictured below).  The Madonna and Child formation is just to the left of the 2 Nuns. All of Sedona’s rock formations names resemble their peculiar shape. It becomes a fun game to guess different rock formations on any hike.

Stunning red rocks along the Little Horse trail in Sedona

As Little Horse Trail is popular with both mountain bikers and hikers, expect crowds all throughout the year. The popular Jeep Tours also run in this area. Despite the (at times) hefty traffic, most of the trail can still be enjoyed in peace. Every so often you will come across a few hikers or a large group of bikers, although typically you will not see a single person again for quite some time. At times you will feel like you are completely alone, lost in the red rock wilderness – definitely not a bad thing!

A pretty overlook with gorgeous red rock views on the Little Horse Trail in Sedona, Arizona

There are a few minor uphill and downhill sections, yet nothing too challenging. At the end of the trail, you will reach Chicken Point. From here you will be treated to some pretty amazing wide open red rock vistas in every direction.

Convenient trail markers are located on the route (much more so than many of the other hikes I have completed), with the addition of cairns (a stack of stones used as a helpful trail marker) to help guide you along the way. If you choose to lengthen your hike beyond Chicken Point, you will enter the Wilderness area and continue along the Jim Bryant trail. Most beginning hikers will definitely get enough of a workout on Little Horse alone. If you choose to continue, bring plenty of water and salty snacks.

Little Horse trail sign in Sedona

Chicken Point overlook

The Chicken Point overlook is one of the most stunning red rock overlooks in Sedona. Although this overlook can also be accessed via the Broken Arrow hike, Little Horse is an all over better hiking trail.

Views at Chicken Point at the end of Little Horse Trail in Sedona

Best time to hike in Sedona

Unlike many other areas of the country, winter is actually a pretty great time to plan a hike in Sedona. Crowds are practically non existent, the temperatures are much more comfortable, and if you are lucky you may even catch a glimpse of snow on a cactus or a light dusting atop the red rocks. Because there is not much shade on this trail, you will tire out much more quickly during the hot summer season.

Temperatures are much more ideal for hiking in the winter with average daytime highs ranging between 40-60 degrees, thus enabling you to enjoy the views more, take more photos, and stroll at your own leisure without worrying about overheating. Despite the cooler temperatures, always bring extra water! You always want to stay properly hydrated, especially in dry, high altitude climates like Sedona.

Little Horse is the perfect hike as you get to enjoy an energizing workout along with amazing views. You can’t ask for much more than that in a quality hike! First time Sedona visitors will be impressed with the wonderful views, relative peace and quiet, and beautiful natural setting.

Prickly pear cactus along the Little Horse trail in Sedona
Pretty red rock view along the Little Horse Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Hiking Details

Round trip, the Little Horse Trail should only take about 2 hours or so, leaving you plenty of time to explore other attractions in Sedona. Other great hikes to consider during your trip include: Devil’s Bridge, Soldier’s Pass, and Fay Canyon.

Tip: If traveling from Flagstaff, be sure to take scenic Oak Creek Canyon Drive. The 14 mile drive along 89a (between Flagstaff and Sedona) often ranks amongst the most beautiful roads in the country. Although it’s gorgeous anytime of the year, you can’t beat seeing a dusting of snow atop the red rocks after a winter storm! Note – this drive is by far one of the top things to do in Sedona.

Snow covering the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. Oak Creek Canyon drive is beautiful year round, especially during the winter months!
Snow covering the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. Oak Creek Canyon drive is beautiful year round, especially during the winter months!

Directions: At the junction of 89a and 179 in Sedona, you will drive 3.6 miles south on 179 until you reach a paved turnout at milepost 309.8. This will be 0.2 miles south of the United Methodist Church. Or just enter the following GPS coordinates: 34°49’07.0″N 111°46’16.9″W.

Parking is $5 unless you have a Red Rock Pass or annual America the beautiful pass