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11 Underrated Hikes in Sedona, Arizona that you need to do

Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona

It’s no secret that Sedona has some of the most unique and jaw-dropping sights in the world! There are over 100 great hikes to do in Sedona but today, I am sharing 11 of the trails that I believe are underrated! 

 

So if you are looking to beat the crowds but still experience dazzling pools, magical caves, and towering red cathedrals, keep reading for 11 underrated hikes in Sedona

Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona | Fay Canyon

11 Great Hikes in Sedona, Arizona that you need to do

I am lucky to live close to Sedona so go often – I even got eloped there! In this post, I’m sharing 11 underrated and great hikes in Sedona, what to expect when you visit, what to pack for hiking in Sedona, and photos to inspire your next adventure. 

Table of Contents

1. Fay Canyon

Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona | Fay Canyon

Fay Canyon is my favorite underrated hike in Sedona! The hike starts on a shady trail that winds through the cool canyon floor. If you are up for some scrambling, the official hike starts at the “end of trail” sign. Once you ascend from the canopy of trees, you are met with sweeping views Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. 

 

  • Trail Length: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 383 feet
  • Route Type: Out & back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: There is a spacious parking lot across the street from the trailhead – passes needed. There are bathrooms!
  • Fee/Permit: No
 

Find it on AllTrails. 

2. Broken Arrow Trail

Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona | Broken Arrow Trail

If you want to skip the Pink Jeep Tours but still get those amazing views, this is the perfect hike! It’s short, easy, and can be turned into a loop that will take you back to the parking lot. Near the start of the hike, you will see a fenced-in area called The Devil’s Dining Room, which is a massive sinkhole created by underground caverns! You’ll also pass several vortex sites and near the end of the trail is a large rock ledge that makes for the perfect spot to take a photograph and soak in the expansive views of the Munds Mountain Wilderness. 

 

  • Trail Length: 2.8 miles 

  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet

  • Route Type: Out & back

  • Difficulty: Moderate 

  • Kid-friendly: Yes

  • Dog-friendly: Yes

  • Parking: There is ample parking at the trailhead, which is a little way down a short dirt road. 

  • Fee/Permit: Red Rock Pass Required (see below for more information).

 

Find it on AllTrails. 

3. Yavapai Vista Trail

Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona
Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona

I stumbled upon Yavapai Vista Trail a couple of years ago and have visited several times since! I don’t know if I would call it a hike since it was only half a mile to the spot in my photos – it’s more of a hangout spot. As you can see, we brought our favorite REI camp chairs and made an afternoon of watching the clouds roll across the valley. There were hardly any other hikers, but there were a lot of mountain bikers! When I go back, I will pack a picnic and a book – this is a spot place to hang out and soak in the scenery

 

  • Trail Length: 0.5 miles 

  • Elevation Gain: 82 feet

  • Route Type: Out & back

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Kid-friendly: Yes

  • Dog-friendly: Yes

  • Parking: There is a parking lot at the trailhead – it features about ~30 parking spots, a bathroom and a fee station so you can get a Red Rock Pass. 

  • Fee/Permit: Red Rock Pass required

 

Find it on AllTrails. 

4. Brewer Trail

best hikes in Sedona Brewer Trail

I’m surprised this hike isn’t more popular! While it’s all up from the trailhead, this hike is still easy – just be sure to wear good hiking shoes. The summit offers incredible views of West Sedona and is right above one of Sedona’s famous vortexes, which is clearly marked with a viewing platform. Oh and if you are wondering what the old stone building is on the trail, it’s a water tank! We went on a rainy day, which made the views even more magnificent and gave us the trail to ourselves.

 

  • Trail Length: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 374 feet
  • Route Type: Out & back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: You can park at the Wesleyan Church, which is across the street from the trailhead.
  • Fee/Permit: No

5. West Fork Trail

Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona

I’m not sure that this is an underrated hike in Sedona but in case you didn’t know about it, I wanted to shout it out because it deserves a lot of credit. West Fork is one of the best hiking experiences in Sedona. From the steep canyon walls to the cool river and secret pools, this trail is truly paradise. It’s an easy and flat trail and you should expect to get your feet wet with some stream crossings. 

 

Since this hike is so incredible, it is popular. I would suggest going during the week or in Sedona’s off-season. While the summer is perfect for hopping from pool to pool, the winter is less crowded and offers fall colors… yes, in Arizona, we have fall colors in the winter lol. 

 

  • Trail Length: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1053 feet
  • Route Type: Out & back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: There is a parking lot at the trailhead but it is limited. If you can’t get a spot in the lot, you’ll need to park down the road and walk back to the entrance.
  • Fee/Permit: It is $11 (cash) per vehicle to park and $3 (cash) to enter on foot.
 

Find it on AllTrails.

6. Sugarloaf Loop

11 great underrated hikes in Sedona | Hiking Sugarloaf Loop

Sugarloaf Loop is a great hike in Sedona because it’s easy, mostly flat, and offers amazing 360-degree views! This is one of the less crowded trails I’ve hiked in Sedona and the surrounding red rocks look gorgeous at any time of day! Sugarloaf Loop is kid and dog-friendly, making it a great Sedona hike for the whole family. 

  • Trail Length: 1.9
  • Elevation gain: 354 ft
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: There is a small parking lot at the trailhead that fits about 10 cars.
  • Fee/Permit: Red Rock Pass required 
 

Find it on AllTrails. 

7. Keyhole Cave via Sugarloaf Trail

hiking keyhole cave in Sedona

If you’re an experienced hiker on Sugarloaf Trail and looking for something a little more challenging that takes you to a massive cave, Keyhole Cave trail is for you! This trail is off the beaten path and is not for new hikers. The entrance to the cave is a 30-foot Class III climb to get onto the ledge and I highly recommend you have climbing experience. I highly recommend downloading a map before you attempt this hike! If I didn’t have my AllTrails map, I would have gotten lost. 

 

  • Trail Length: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 472 ft
  • Route Type: Out & back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-friendly: No
  • Dog-friendly: No
  • Parking: To get to this trail, park in the Sugarloaf Trail parking lot (featured above).
  • Fee/Permit: Red Rock Pass required 
 

Find it on AllTrails.

8. Airport View Trail

Airport View Trail is a great, easy Sedona hike that offers panoramic views of the entire Sedona area! The trail runs parallel to Airport Road and Airport Loop Trail and you’ll get great views of Coffee Pot Rock, Doe Mountain, Sugar Loaf, Wilson Mountain, and Oak Creek Canyon! Don’t forget your camera or binoculars! 

 

  • Trail Length: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 242 ft
  • Route Type: Out & back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: There is a large parking lot with plenty of spots.
  • Fee/Permit: $3 parking fee 
 

Find it on AllTrails.

9. Slim Shady and Made in the Shade Loop Trail

Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona
Underrated hikes in Sedona, Arizona

If you’re looking for an easy, family-friendly Sedona hike, combine the Slim Shady and Made in the Shade trails for a 2.3 mile loop! This trail takes you next to beautiful Bell Rock and gives you great views of some of Sedona’s massive buttes. Be sure to follow the white marks so you don’t lose the trail! 

 

  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 347 ft
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: Park at Courthouse Loop South Trailhead and cross the 179 to access Slim Shady Trailhead
  • Fee/Permit: Red Rock Pass required 
 

Find it on AllTrails. 

10. Thunder Mountain to Andante Loop

Tucked away in a neighborhood, Thunder Mountain to Andante Loop is an amazing underrated hike in Sedona and one of my favorite places to watch the sun set. This trail is a great choice for families and beginners because it’s not as crowded as other hikes in the area. If you want a longer hike, you can use the connecting trails to extend your hike. 

 

  • Trail Length: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 374 ft
  • Route Type: Out & back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: There is a small parking lot at the trailhead.
  • Fee/Permit: Red Rock Pass required 
 

Find it on AllTrails.

11. Crescent Moon Ranch at Red Rock Crossing

Adventurous Day Trips from Phoenix

This is one of my favorite places to take pictures in Sedona because this trail sits right below the towering and infamous Cathedral Rock! This trail takes you to one of the better (and less crowded) swimming holes in the state so be sure to wear water shoes! 

 

The ranch itself has lots of easy, paved hiking trails that wander through the lush banks of Oak Creek. There are plenty of benches available and a Ramada if you are hosting a larger gathering. 

  • Trail Length: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 52 ft
  • Route Type: Out & back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Parking: There is parking at Crescent Moon Ranch.
  • Fee/Permit: $11 per vehicle 
 

Find it on AllTrails.

Tips For Hiking In Sedona

tips for hiking in Sedona, Arizona | Fay Canyon

While I will always encourage you to plan ahead for your hike, check the weather before you head out, dress appropriately, and always carry the 10 Essentials, here are some Sedona-specific hiking tips:

  • A lot of the hikes will require a Red Rock Pass to park at the trailhead. You can purchase daily or weekly passes at some of the trailheads, or you can pick one up at a gas station. The daily passes are $5, $15 for 7 consecutive days, or $20 for an annual pass.
  • Start early – especially if you are going to a popular trail like Cathedral Rock! Parking lots can fill up fast and depending on the time of year, it can get hot quickly. If you don’t want to deal with the parking lot, check out the free Sedona Shuttle
  • Be prepared to share the trail with other hikers and mountain bikers! Sedona is popular and everyone who respects the land deserves to see its beauty! Please be respectful of others on the trail. 
  • Bring lots of water and snacks, wear sturdy shoes and sunscreen, and don’t forget your camera!

What to pack for hiking in Arizona

what to pack to go hiking in Sedona

The time of year will impact exactly what you need to bring to hike in Sedona. If you visit in the winter, you’ll definitely want to bring long layers and warmer gear but if you visit in the summer, you’ll want light sun-blocking layers and water shoes. 

 

No matter what time of year you visit, there are a couple of basics I recommend for hiking in Sedona: 

 

Hiking shoes 

 

Hiking in Sedona means lots of loose rocks and sandy sections so sturdy hiking shoes are a must. Since hiking in Sedona can get pretty hot, I prefer a lightweight hiking boot with a good grip

 

If the weather is warm enough and the trail flat enough, I love hiking in my Tevas! These ones feature soft heel-strap padding and durable, grippy soles to keep you comfortable while exploring the outdoors or downtown Sedona.

Merino Wool Socks

 

Over the years, I’ve learned that the socks you wear hiking are just as important as the boots! I love hiking in these merino wool socks because they are great for preventing blisters and keeping your feet cool and dry.  

 

Sweat-wicking clothes 

 

No matter the weather, I always get hot and sweaty when I’m hiking in Sedona! For that reason, I prefer hiking in moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester because the fibers keep the sweat on the surface and transport your sweat to the outer layer of your shirt. Once there, the sweat evaporates!

 

Water bottle 

 

You will need to pack a reusable water bottle or water bladder for hiking in Sedona. Since it can get quite hot (no matter what time of year), it’s important to bring plenty of water and drink it throughout your hike.

 

Trail snacks for hikes in Sedona

 

It’s super important to fuel your body when you are hiking, especially when you are hiking in the desert! I love to snack on fresh and fruit, protein bars, and rehydrate with electrolytes! 

 

Sunscreen + sun protection 

 

Sedona, like the rest of the southwest desert, gets a lot of sun. Sunscreen and polarized sunglasses are essential for your hikes! 

Sunhat 

 

If there’s one thing I don’t ever go hiking in Sedona without, it’s a sun hat! If you’re looking for a recommendation, I love this hat from Sunday Afternoons! It looks great on everyone, keeps the sun out of your eyes, and isn’t too hot on the head so you can wear it hiking all year round! 

 

Hiking backpack 

 

If you’re bringing your 10 essentials, extra water, snacks, your camera, and layers, you’ll need a hiking backpack to carry it all in! Here’s my current favorite hiking backpack for day trips – I love that it comes with a hydration bladder! 

Hiking in Sedona | Leave No Trace

great hikes in Sedona Leave No Trace Sign

While you are visiting Sedona, please be sure to practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (LNT). These guidelines are easy-to-understand and help minimize your impact on the outdoors. Here’s a brief overview of LNT: 

 

Plan Ahead & Prepare

 

Planning helps you be prepared for the conditions of your adventure and ensures the safety of yourself and others. Be sure to look at maps, check the weather and know the skills of yourself and the people in your group. 

 

Travel on Durable Surfaces

 

When you spend time outside, your main goal should be to explore with minimal impact or damage to the land, waterways, plants, and animals. Staying on the trails and traveling on surfaces that withstand the impact of your travel (rocks, sand, snow, etc.) are all ways to do this.

 

Dispose of Waste Properly

 

The litter I see on trails (crying emoji). Please be sure to dispose of your waste properly to make everyone’s experience in nature more enjoyable! And waste includes your poop. Digging a cat hole and burying your toilet paper or using a Kula Cloth is a great way to leave no trace!

 

Leave What You Find

 

As much as we love to bring home cool rocks and pick flowers, it’s important to leave nature as you found it. Stacking rocks or carving your name into the sandstone or a living tree causes damage and only encourages others to do the same.

 

Respect Wildlife

 

For everyone’s safety, it’s important to respect wildlife – after all, you are in their home! Give them their space and don’t feed them.

 

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

 

Everyone in Sedona is just trying to enjoy their visit. It’s SO important to be courteous to others because when people are out in nature, they want to listen to nature. Excessive noise, wild pets, or a trashed trail take away from the appeal of the outdoors.

 

Do not touch dwellings sites or petroglyphs 

 

There is a lot of indigenous history in the Sedona area – this land was once inhabited by the Sinagua, Western Apache, Hopitutskwa, Pueblos, and Hohokam People. If you find an ancient dwelling site or petroglyphs, do not touch them. 

 

Before you visit Sedona, consider signing the Sedona Cares Pledge:  

  1. The rocks are red and the silence is golden. I vow to respect the natural quiet of Sedona’s open spaces and neighborhoods.
  2. I will be mindful of Sedona’s arid environment by minimizing my water and energy use and I will be extremely careful with fire.
  3. I’ll make my own memories, but not my own trails.
  4. I won’t risk life or limb (human or sapling) for more likes. I won’t get killed for a killer photo.
  5. When playing outside, I’ll be ready for rapid changes in weather and random episodes of magic.
  6. Leave No Trace and pack out your trash – that includes TP and your pup’s poo!
  7. I will discover art in Sedona’s galleries rather than making my own. Carving on trees or rocks, stacking stones, or defacing the environment diminishes nature’s art.
  8. If I can’t find a parking spot, I will not invent my own. I will go with the traffic flow, using my turn signal often and my car horn seldom.
  9. I’ll be caring and considerate wherever I go, because that’s the Sedona way.

Final thoughts on these 11 great Sedona hikes

Weekend in Sedona, Arizona

I hope you enjoyed learning about these underrated Sedona hikes and are inspired to take a trip of your own! If you’re ready to make a trip out west, check out my other guides on visiting Sedona: 

 

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Meet the author

Jacey West

My mission is simple: Inspire you to get outside. I like camping, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, and exploring National Parks. I’m passionate about sharing all the details of my adventure so you can plan some of your own!

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