Planning the Ultimate Hiking Vacation to Sedona, ArizonaWhen on vacation, getting out and enjoying the sights should be a priority. Those of us who enjoy the outdoors know that hiking the various trails surrounding your destination lets you truly experience the beauty and splendor of an area. After all, nothing brings you closer to the true heart of your destination than tackling the terrain on foot.
So, you're all packed up and ready to go, but where are you heading? We suggest a trip to hike among the riveting red rocks of Sedona, Arizona! The striated sandstone formations in Sedona are the main draw for this popular tourist destination, showcasing fiery shades of orange and red. Many tourists find Sedona to be a place of spiritual healing, while many more make the journey to hike the nearly unending expanse of trails crisscrossing the area.
We've listed a few of our favorite hiking trails in Sedona below to help you plan your outdoor excursion, but don't let us stop you from choosing your own path if that's what excites you; there are no wrong answers when hiking in Sedona!
Planning on staying in the area to enjoy the hiking (and other pleasures), book your vacation rental at Sedona.org.
Brins Mesa & Soldiers PassThis moderately difficult trail leads to one of the most incredible viewpoints in all of Sedona. Starting from the trailhead, you will hike up just over 500 feet in elevation along the 1.5-mile trail (one way), where you will end atop the Brins Mesa, overlooking Mormon Canyon and Soldiers Pass. Partway up the trail, you can choose to head off to the right for an additional mile of trail way -- and another 400 feet of elevation -- to reach the very top of the mesa. Those looking for a longer hike can connect to the Soldiers Pass Trail.
To get to the Brins Mesa trailhead, take State Route 89A to Jordan Rd, then drive north until you reach Park Ridge Dr. Turn left and drive until you reach the parking section at the end of the dirt road.
Soldiers Pass Trail winds between Brins Ridge and Capitol Butte, passing the Devil's Kitchen sinkhole and the "Seven Sacred Pools" along the way. Another trail of moderate difficulty, this hike will take you approximately two miles for a one-way trip with 500 feet of elevation. Tackling both the Brins Mesa Trail and Soldiers Pass Trail will take around 4 hours, but the views are certainly worth it! Across the journey -- about four miles in total -- you will see some of the most scenic sights that Sedona has to offer.
Reach the Soldiers Pass trailhead by traveling north up Soldier Pass Rd from State Route 89A, then drive about 1.4 miles north on Soldier Pass Rd until you reach Shadow Rock Dr. Turn right on Shadow Rock Dr., then continue straight onto Canyon Shadows Dr. Make a quick left onto Forest Service 9904 Rd and you should see parking ahead.
Little HorseWith only a 300-foot rise in elevation, Little Horse Trail is an easier hike, perfect for those who aren't as confident in their physical prowess. This trail covers 1.7 miles one-way, passing by some of the most famous rock formations in Sedona. Catch exquisite views of Cathedral Rock, Gibraltar Rock, and Courthouse Butte / Bell Rock (possibly the most famous spot in all of Sedona!) on the way to Chicken Point. From here, you can choose to head back the way you came, or continue on to Broken Arrow Trail.
To find the trailhead, drive south on Hwy 179 about 3.5 miles from the middle of Sedona. The exit for Little Horse trailhead will be on the left, look for the Little Horse sign following the Back O' Beyond roundabout's exit.
Courthouse Butte LoopThe 4.2-mile loop that makes up the Courthouse Butte Loop Trail might just be the most beloved hiking spot in Arizona, let alone Sedona. Coming in at just under 500 feet in elevation along the way, you will make the long loop around Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. Many people also choose to make the climb to the top of Bell Rock, but be warned -- this isn't for the faint of heart!
The Courthouse Vista trailhead, one of the access points for the Courthouse Butte Loop, can be reached by driving south on Hwy 179 about 4.7 miles from the center of Sedona. You will pass through a few traffic circles before finally turning left to arrive at the parking lot for this trailhead.
Broken ArrowInterested in visiting a spot known as Devil's Dining Room? Then Broken Arrow Trail is for you. This popular spot sits just .6 miles from the Broken Arrow trailhead, before continuing on towards Chicken Point (where it meets up with Little Horse Trail). This winding trail covers 1.7 miles one-way and rises around 450 feet along the way. About halfway down the trail, you can take a detour towards Submarine Rock; we highly recommend you do, as you won't want to miss this lovely rock formation.
Reaching Broken Arrow trailhead is quite easy. Heading south down Hwy 179, turn left onto Morgan Rd. Follow Morgan Rd all the way down to the parking lot for the trailhead.
HuckabyIf you're looking for a challenging hike in Sedona, Huckaby Trail is the place to be! Starting from Midgley Bridge, you'll head down Oak Creek Canyon and along Oak Creek's shaded banks before starting the rigorous portion of the trail. Huckaby Trail will test your mettle, as you must hike up and down multiple canyons and bluffs. The trail finally ends, 2.5 miles later, at Schnebly Hill. Though the elevation difference between the highest and lowest point is 400 feet, the trail frequently drops and climbs over 200 feet, making this hike very difficult for those who aren't in good shape.
Visitors heading south on Hwy 179 will want to turn left onto Schnebly Hill Rd, then follow it for about a mile before turning left into the parking area for the Huckaby trailhead.
Fay CanyonIf Huckaby sounds too difficult for you -- or your children -- Fay Canyon will be just the type of trail you need. This relaxing hike is very forgiving, with barely 200 feet in elevation difference covering the 1.2-mile trail. Your whole family can take part in this scenic hike, where you'll find great views of the surrounding cliff walls and lush trees. Be sure to take the detour halfway down the trail towards the Fay Arch, before finishing your journey at the Half Moon Overhang.
To reach Fay Canyon's trailhead, head west on State Route 89A about 3 miles before turning right onto Dry Creek Rd. Drive for another 3 miles before turning left on Boynton Pass Rd. Continue to Boynton Pass Rd for about 2 miles before reaching the Fay Canyon trailhead parking on the left side of the road.
Experience the Rare Beauty of Sedona for YourselfHopefully, this list has sparked your interest in hiking among the rare red rocks of Sedona. We've only covered a small portion of the area, though; there's much more here than meets the eye. Sedona is a fully-functioning vacation destination with everything you need for a relaxing -- or invigorating -- getaway. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring for yourself!
Photos: Neala McCarten
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April 3, 2017