Little Horse Trail, one of the numerous hiking options within the Coconino National Forest, is a moderate trail which is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Despite the short distance, it 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!
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 or 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 surrounded by such wonderful views.
This trail provides one of the most spectacular views of Courthouse Butte, a butte with an elevation of 5440 feet. Along the way you will also find great views of Bell Rocks 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 are named for what they resemble.
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 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.
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 landscapes. Gorgeous red rocks will surround you in every direction.
The trail is well marked (much more so than many of the others 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.
Unlike many other areas of the country, winter is actually a pretty great time to plan a hike in Sedona. Crowds are fewer, 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 on a summer hike.
Temperatures are much more ideal for hiking in the winter with average daytime highs 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 proper hydrated, especially in dry, high altitude climates like Sedona.
Little Horse is the perfect trail as it combines an enjoyable, energizing workout with amazing views. You can’t ask for much more than that in a quality hike! First time Sedona visitors will be very pleased with the wonderful views, relative peace and quiet, and beautiful natural setting.
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 is frequently regarded amongst the most beautiful 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!
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