Sedona, Arizona is known as one of the country’s premiere hiking destinations for many reasons. It not only has a wealth of steep canyons, red rock buttes, and trailheads with plenty of spots for picnicking and bird watching, it also has mild weather and interesting things to do and see on its trails. There are so many trails in Sedona that it’s not an easy task to pick just a handful to recommend.
Though you can certainly head off on any of these hikes on your own, for guided tours the top provider in the area is The Hike House. Their rates range between $125 and $250 per person, and you can hike all of these trails under their guise. Here are five of the best places to go hiking in Sedona.
1. Boynton Canyon Trail
One of the most stunning places to go hiking in Sedona is Boynton Canyon Trail. The trail will take you through an awe-inspiring canyon and a landscape with several surprises. In addition to a large pine forest you’ll see alligator junipers, oaks, and several other species of flora. Enchantment Resort is nearby, as is a number of cultural sites.
Boynton Canyon Trail lies in an area that Native America folk lore says is the place where the Apache and Yavapai tribes came to be. If you’d like a mix of cultural and historical stops as well as picturesque natural beauty, this is definitely a trail you should check out. The difficulty of Boynton Canyon Trail is moderate, and it stretches for a total of 6.4 miles. If you only hike one way it will take you close to two hours to finish. For the full hike, expect to spend at least three and a half hours.
2. Brins Mesa
The highest point in Sedona is Wilson Mountain, and just underneath that is an excellent place to go hiking in Sedona: Brins Mesa. This trail goes up 500 feet to overlook both Soldiers Pass and Mormon Canyon, and you have the option of going an additional 400 feet about a mile past where the canyon starts. This moderate hike is one and a half miles one way and three miles total. Depending on whether you prefer to go one way or hike the entire trail, expect to spend between one and two hours on Brins Mesa.
If you prefer extended hikes, Brins Mesa connects to Devils Bridge and Chuck Wagon Trail. The biggest draw to this trail is the incredible view at the top of the mesa. There you’ll be able to see Secret Canyon Wilderness, one of Sedona’s most untouched, pristine, and truly secluded areas. There’s also a knoll just under two miles into Brins Mesa Trail that provides 360 degree views and is the ideal place for a rest or lunch.
3. Little Horse
Those who want a place that’s fairly easy to tackle while hiking in Sedona should check out Little Horse. It goes across red rock, arroyos, and then ends at Chicken Point. Some of the things you’ll be able to see there include Munds Wilderness, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Gibraltar Rock. If you choose to go past Chicken Point, you can extend your adventure via the Broken Arrow Trail and hit Submarine Rock. There’s also the opportunity to take a side hike on the trail and see the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
One of the best things about Little Horse Trail is that it will expose you to most of the natural features that Sedona is famous for, and the views are fantastic. You’ll even be able to get a glimpse of the area’s most renowned formations, all without physically exhausting yourself. The total length of the trail is 3.4 miles, and hiking one way is 1.7 miles. This is a good pick for a shorter hike, as it typically takes just 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete.
4. West Fork
West Fork is known as being one of the most popular and scenic places to go hiking in Sedona’s Red Rock Country. The type of natural beauty that you’ll see on this trail is amazing, and there’s also many interesting historical sites along the way. What’s left of Mayhew Cabin is near the trailhead, and it’s the place where novelist Zane Grey wrote Call of the Canyon in 1924. Other Hollywood notables stayed at Mayhew Cabin, which was then known as Mayhew Lodge, such as Walt Disney and Clark Gable.
The high slot canyon walls make West Fork an amazing trail to hike year round, but in the summer the canyon provides refuge from the heat. The versatility of the trail is another part of what makes it special. You can opt to take the calm route, which is family friendly and easy enough for even young kids to enjoy, or you can challenge yourself and top out on Mogollon Rim, which will require that you take a swim to get through.
The trail is almost flat for its entire length, so it’s also a prime pick for those who want a longer hike where they can relax, enjoy themselves, and take in the scenery. Most spend between two and four hours hiking West Fork. Even in the winter, when West Fork is blanketed in snow, this is still one of the area’s most popular hikes.
5. Fay Canyon
Let’s say you’re a hiking novice or you want to bring along the family and have an enjoyable day seeing the wonders of Sedona. Look no further than Fay Canyon, which is quite suitable for families with children and is flat. You won’t have to worry about scrambling or going up and down in elevation, which is helpful for those who are getting used to exploring the area.
Fay Canyon is 2.4 miles total, 1.2 miles one way. It takes between 40 minutes to just under 1.5 hours for most people to hike, and it’s popular year round. Though this isn’t the best trail to take if you’re looking for the road less traveled and some solitude, families and those who want easy access to breathtaking views should give it a try.