From hiking to jeep excursions and everything in between the adventurous desert landscape of Sedona, Arizona has something to offer every outdoor enthusiast. Endless amounts of hiking trails give visitors plenty of options for sight-seeing and outdoor activities. Most tourists visit Sedona to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding red rock buttes, while some like to enjoy uptown Sedona’s vibrant art galleries and restaurants.
In this blog specifically, I will be highlighting the different hiking trails I took when exploring in Sedona and why I think they are the best trails to get the most out of your trip.
Seven Sacred Pools
Trail Length: 1.1 Miles
Trail Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 108 ft.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Seven Sacred Pools is accessed via Soldier Pass Trail and is a very easy hike and offers amazing views of the surrounding buttes and unique rock sculptures. Each pool was naturally carved into the rock from a seasonal stream and is a crucial water source for the local wildlife. Hiking to the pools is short and forgiving but the pools can be easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. The pools are located just off of the trail to the left and make a great photography subject. Depending on when you visit, the hike can be easier or more difficult if you visit during winter months. Winter months bring a decreased water level due to lack of precipitation, but the most ideal time to visit the pools is in the spring when abundant run-off water fills the pools creating cascading waterfalls from one pool to the next. To be assured you don’t miss the pools I recommend asking other hikers where exactly the pools are at off the trail. The parking lot for Soldier Pass Trail only has 11 spots so you may end up having to park down the road and walking a bit extra to begin the hike.
If you have a 4WD vehicle you can take the unpaved section of the road for a mile, making your hike one mile shorter. If not, you will have to park and walk the unpaved section of the road until you reach the trailhead. Once at the trailhead it is a short and steep hike. The trail stays relatively flat until you reach the base of the bridge, at which point the trail starts to ascend quickly. Once atop the first natural staircase you are greeted with more panoramic desert views. After one last staircase you will be at the bridge. The views from the top of the bridge are well worth the climb up. This hike is busy year-round, so if you are trying to have this spot to yourself I highly recommend visiting during sunrise or sunset.
Trail Length: 1.2 Miles
Trail Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 744 ft.
Another popular hike in the Sedona area is Cathedral Rock. Best known for its sunset views, this hike can be difficult for some. Reaching the top requires some minor scrambling/rock climbing which can deter some from reaching the end of the trail. Although this trail is short, it is a steep hike the entire way up so hiking shoes are recommended for the best traction. This trail can also be difficult to lose on the way up and down so following the cairns will help you stay on trail. This is another heavily trafficked spot so if you are wanting to hike alone, a sunrise hike is suggested. Once at the top there are a few different spots you can explore. You will be greeted with amazing valley views as well as an up-close view of the red canyon walls. If you are visiting for sunset be sure to start the hike down before it gets dark because the descent can be tricky at night.
Trail Length: 4.3 Miles
Trail Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 1,975 ft.
The top of Bear Mountain has some of the best views in Sedona, but the hike to get there is challenging and strenuous in spots. Because of the consistent ascent to the top, this trail is rated as difficult. The Forest Service suggests giving yourself five hours to complete this hike but you can easily spend more soaking in the views and taking photos. Much of the trail is rocky and rugged so hiking books are recommended for ankle support. Bring a lot of water because almost the entirety of the hike is unshaded. During the hike up there are a few steep ascents that are also false summits, so don’t be fooled. For those who don’t wish to conquer the entire hike, there are plenty of good turn around points. The views are scenic the entire way up and if you reach the top they really provide the true beauty of Sedona.
Wherever you go in Sedona, remember to always pack in pack out and respect the land.
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