Sedona has truly some of the best hikes. Partially because of its beauty, these stunning red rocks provide hikers and rock climbers a paradise suited for all types of experience levels. I am dedicating this post to first-time visitors because if you ask a local from Sedona, it’s unlikely any of these will make their list of favorite hikes. If you’re planning to be in Sedona for more than 4 days, the below is a comprehensive list to hit all of the must-visit sites.
Things to Bring on Your Sedona Hike
- Water bottles, and lots of them
- Sunscreen, even in the winter!
- Snacks, like a KIND bar or sandwich for fuel. Keep in mind there aren’t any trash cans on the trails so don’t overpack food – and don’t litter!
- A backpack to carry your water, snacks, and photogrpahy equipment
- Hiking shoes – I got my boots from Zappos. You definintely need hiking boots because you’ll need shoes that give you support and good grip. I contemplated this too and am so glad I had my boots.
Is Sedona Dog-Friendly?
Yes! We took Lyla, our golden retriever, everywhere! Sedona is the most dog-friendly site I’ve ever been to and I really hope it stays that way. We had so many fun memories with Lyla that I will cherish forever. Just avoid bringing your dog on hikes in the summertime when the weather is scorching hot!
Soldier’s Pass is about a 4.5-mile trail that and takes a little over 2 hours round trip. This is one of my most favorite hikes in Sedona because you pass by incredible natural wonders. The trail is open 8 am to 6 pm daily, but get there before 8 am if you want to find parking in the lot. The small parking lot fills up very quickly so we parked about a mile away from the entrance and walked up.
As you enter the trailhead, you’ll approach Devil’s Kitchen in 0.5 miles. This is a sunken hole with interesting rock formations. The main end goal of Soldier’s Pass is to reach the caves. As we were making our way there, we did get lost (stay on the trail, folks). We must have missed trail signs and followed hikers in front of us who were diverting and thought that’s where we should go, too. We quickly realized where we were going wasn’t right and were able to retrace our steps and get back onto the trail.
The loop to the caves is pretty easy. Once you reach the caves, there are several openings of several difficulty levels. Pick your cave, they’re all really cool – I’m exaggerating. I only climbed up into one cave so I can’t vouch for the others. But they sure looked cool!
Seven Sacred Pools
On your way to Soldier’s Pass caves or back, you’ll pass the infamous Seven Sacred Pools. The sun would come and go behind the mountains so we captured a lot of shots that looked so different from the other. These two images we captured were when the sun was peaking through just enough where it wasn’t too bright.
You will be so proud of yourself when you make it up to the top of Cathedral Rock! This 1.2-mile trail may seem short, but it’s a scramble up that requires some scaling and strategy in footwork. You’ll find yourself shoving your foot in holes and crevices and on all-fours at certain points on this hike. It’s not easy, but it is doable, so go slow and steady.
Do get here in the early morning because you really don’t want to do this hike when it’s hot. You should wear hiking boots or shoes that give you a solid grip. The trail signs are marked very clearly and the first quarter of the hike is pretty easy. After that, this is when people start to turn back around. We almost did, especially because we were concerned for Lyla’s safety. But where there’s a will, there’s a way because she scrambled herself through that gulley while Brian and I got on all fours and scaled up. Once you get past that daunting section, it’s manageable.
Once you reach the top, take photos at the platform to the right that overlooks all of Sedona, or sit and enjoy the view! If you experience vertigo, maybe don’t do that because there quite a drop if you look down. To the left when you walk away from the overlook, there is another section that overlooks a different side of the mountains and we found it so peaceful there!
I’m not quite sure what it is with Sedona and naming certain sites the “Devil’s xx”. Is it because of the red rocks or because it gets hot as shit in Sedona? Or both? Either way, when you Google search “Sedona”, 70% of what you find are likely photos of Devil’s Bridge. This is a hike to experience once and perfect for your first time. My biggest advice is to get there early, at around 7 am or earlier.
Reason why? There is a line at Devil’s Bridge to take photos. I am not kidding. If you get to the actual bridge after 9 am, you are looking at over an hour wait to get any photos of yourself said bridge. We got there at 7 am and easily found parking. There are two trails to get to Devil’s Bridge – the loop trail or via Chuckwagon trail. In the interest of time, take the loop trail because that will be shorter and takes about 20 minutes. If you have a truck, you can drive through the trail and park at the start of the ascend to the bridge.
Once you get to the start of climbing up to get to the bridge, it’s time to pick up those legs! It’s about 20 more minutes of rocky stairs and steps that will take you all the way up to the bridge. Once we go there, there was a line but it wasn’t too long. Everyone was very mindful of taking quick picutres and helping others with snapping their photos as well. We waited for about 20 minutes before it was our turn and I set up my tripod, *click* *click* *click*, and we were done!
We took the Chuckwagon trail on the way back to our car, which was a more scenic route. You can take the same trail you took getting up to Devil’s Bridge – it’s all a matter of preference!
Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Trail are neighbors of each other. The main Bell Rock Trail Loop will take you to both. We weren’t on this loop trail for very long before Brian decided to go rogue and have us climb the actual Bell Rock. Mind you, we hiked Soldier’s Pass in the morning so I was already spent and thought we were going on a casual stroll.
Bell Rock was fun, exhilarating, and terrifying. Most people said Cathedral Rock was challenging, but I thought Bell Rock was super difficult and required some climbing skills. The trails aren’t clearly marked so it was hard to figure out where to climb up and how to do it safely. We got halfway up before we realized it was only going to get harder, so we called it for my sanity. I would love to go back next time to climb Bell Rock again but without our dog!
West Fork Trail
Because it was winter, we weren’t able to go to West Fork Trail due to snow and excess flooding, but we would’ve gone if we could! If you’re visiting in the spring or fall, definitely don’t miss this hike as it’s also a favorite of locals too! This 6-mile trail features a river and its stream hit certain points of the trail that you will have to cross.
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