Located just minutes from Sedona, Arizona, the hike to Soldier’s Pass Cave is a moderate, 3-mile hike to a narrow cave where you can do some fun exploring and rock scrambling. If climbing into a cave intrigues you, this is the hike for you! Although Soldier’s … Read More How to Hike to Soldier’s Pass Cave: Sedona, Az
In this article, we’ll cover four of the best easy Sedona hikes, featuring unbeatable views of the stunning red rocks. For those inclined to believe in the supernatural powers of natural world, Sedona is considered by many to be a vortex, or a place in nature that is particularly alive with energy and well-suited for mediation, healing, and spiritual enlightenment. Now, most of that healing-crystal, zodiac-sign, natural-magic stuff is a little too out there for me, and I can’t say I felt any form of transcendental enlightenment in Sedona, but the underlying belief is true. Sedona is one of the most beautiful and geologically-unique towns in the United States.
Overview: Easy Sedona Hikes
Filled with towering red rock buttes, stunning sunsets, and glimpses deep into the stars, it is easy to see how Sedona earned its reputation as a place of unique natural energy. A great way to experience Sedona is to get outdoors, but because there are so many hiking options available, it can be hard to choose the best ones. We’ve got all the details you need for four of the best hikes, ranging from easy to moderate.
Below are four of our favorite hikes in Sedona, ordered by difficulty from easy to most challenging:
Map of easy Sedona hikes
- To email this map to yourself for future use, click the three dots in the upper right corner.
- To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.
The map shows the location of the trailhead and summit for each hike:
- Airport Mesa
- Cathedral Rock
- Devil’s Bridge
- Soldier’s Pass
1. Airport Mesa
Hiking distance | 0.5 miles
Elevation gain | 100 feet
Total time | 1 hour (mainly for watching the sunrise/sunset)
Epic-ness rating | 7
Difficulty | easy
You can hardly consider this easy half mile journey a hike, but even though it is short, it is packed with some of the most epic views in Sedona. Airport Mesa is one of the best places to watch the sunrise or sunset, as it provides unimpeded 360 degree views of Sedona’s stunning red rocks.
Getting to the Airport Mesa trailhead
There is a small parking lot at the base of the trail about half a mile up Airport Road on the left side of the road. It is easy to miss – we drove right past and nearly missed the sunrise trying to find it, so drive slowly. If you get to the Sedona Airport Scenic lookout on the right, you’ve gone too far. Save the map at the top of this page to find the exact location of the parking lot.
The “hike” to Airport Mesa
The trail starts at the parking lot and is about a quarter mile up. We sprinted up the short trail for fear that we’d miss the sunrise (we didn’t and had plenty of time).
From the top, you have unmatched views of the surrounding buttes and red rocks in every direction. Watching the sun slowly illuminate Capital Butte is a perfect way to start your day in Sedona.
Should I hike at sunrise or sunset?
If you’re a morning person like me, go for sunrise. It’s less crowded and there is no better way to start your day than with a cup of coffee and a perfect view. You’ll also get a head start on the rest of your day and avoid crowds on your next hike. We did Cathedral Rock immediately after the sunrise and had the trail almost to ourselves.
If the thought of waking up before the sun makes you queasy, the sunset is equally as stunning. The only downside: expect more crowds at sunset. The small parking lot at the trailhead will likely be full. You can park at the Scenic Overlook about half a mile up Airport Road and walk down.
2. Cathedral Rock
Hiking distance | 1.3 miles
Elevation gain | 650 feet
Total time | 2 hours
Epic-ness rating | 8
Difficulty | easy-moderate
*please note this hike is very steep in parts (may be challenging if you have a serious fear of heights) and requires some rock scrambling
- Find this hike on AllTrails: Cathedral Rock Trail
Cathedral Rock is one of the most prominent rock formations in Sedona, and hiking to the top is, in our opinion, the best hike in Sedona. While the hike is steep, the short 1.3 mile distance makes for a fairly easy hike up to experience Sedona’s famous red rocks up close.
We recommend starting early. This is a very popular hike and gets crowded the later you go. We got to the trailhead around 8:00 AM and had the trail nearly to ourselves. We were able to enjoy the incredible views at the summit in peace for a short time before its started filling up.
Getting to the Cathedral Rock trailhead
Park in the lot off Back O’Beyond road. You can find directions here. This lot fills up quickly so even more reason to get an early start! There is a $10 fee to park here.
The Cathedral Rock hike
Head out on the trail and you’ll immediately see this huge red rock formation rising up in front of you. That is the back of Cathedral rock, and yes, that’s where you’re headed!
The hike starts out gradual as you make your way towards Cathedral Rock, hopping from rock to rock. Since most of the hike is over red rock, there isn’t exactly a trail to follow, but the path is well marked with piles of small red rocks (see the left side of the foreground in the second picture above). Keep an eye out for these small structures, and you’ll be sure to stay on the trail.
Soon enough you’ll reach a stretch of rock that ascends steeply with just a narrow gap to climb up. This part may require some scrambling depending on your height. It’s a little challenging, but a ton of fun!
The entire way up you’ll be rewarded with incredible views. When you reach the top, there are a couple places to explore. If you’re feeling brave, you can walk out on a narrow ridge, located to your right when you reach the summit, for an even more complete view of the valley below. Note that when we left, there was a line of people waiting to do this (we walked right out at 9:00 AM).
If you take a left from the summit, you can explore the iconic narrow pillar of Cathedral Rock up close. It was really cool to be able to look back at the pictures we’d taken from below on Red Rock Road and say “I was there!”
Cathedral Rock shadows
If you are hiking on a clear morning, you can see shadows of Cathedral Rock cast onto the valley below. We reached the summit around 9:00 AM, and the shadows were picture perfect. By the time we left, clouds had rolled in and the shadows disappeared. I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again: go early!
We did this hike right after watching the sunrise at Airport Mesa and the timing worked out perfectly.
3. Soldier’s Pass Cave
Hiking distance | 3.1 miles
Elevation gain | 630 feet
Total time | 2 – 3 hours
Epic-ness rating | 7
Difficulty | moderate
- Find this hike on AllTrails: Soldier’s Pass Trail
Note that the hike on AllTrails continues an additional 0.8 miles beyond the turnoff for the cave. We took this route on accident and there isn’t a ton to see. We recommend turning back after the cave.
The hike to Soldier’s Pass Cave is an easy to moderate, 3 mile hike to a narrow cave where you can do some fun exploring and rock scrambling. If climbing into a cave intrigues you, this is the hike for you! This was easily Matt’s favorite hike in Sedona.
The hike to Soldier’s Pass Cave
The trail starts out relatively flat. Less than half a mile into the hike you’ll pass the Devil’s Sinkhole on your right, followed soon after by the Seven Sacred Pools on the lefthand side of the trail (pictured to the left). The turnoff for the cave will be just about 1.2 miles into the hike.
Once you arrive, you can climb up into the cave. It is a steep climb, particularly if you are short (like me!), and slightly frightening to hoist yourself up. From inside the cave, you can rest with a view of the surrounding area through a little triangular window.
You can read more details about the hike to Soldier’s Pass Cave here:
4. Devil’s Bridge
Hiking distance | 4.5 miles
Elevation gain | 560 feet
Total time | 2 hours
Epic-ness rating | 7
Difficulty | easy-moderate
- Find this hike on AllTrails: Devil’s Bridge Trail
Devil’s bridge is probably the most popular hike in Sedona, but the hike itself was personally not our favorite. Don’t get me wrong, the bridge is really cool, but the majority of the hike is along a dirt road without much to see and the trail is very crowded. That being said, if you’re willing to brave the crowds the bridge is worth seeing!
Getting to the Devil’s Bridge trailhead
There is a huge parking lot located here, off Dry Creek Road.
Most people start the hike by walking directly down Dry Creek Road, which is just a boring gravel road. To spend less time walking on this road, we recommend taking the Chuck Wagon Trail which eventually intersects with Dry Creek Road before the turnoff for Devil’s Bridge. The Chuck Wagon trailhead is located just past the restrooms to the left hand side of the parking lot, facing in the direction of Devil’s Bridge (away from the main road).
Taking this route will add some distance to your hike, but we thought it was worth it! If you decide to take this route, just make your you cut back over to Dry Creek Road about half a mile into the hike! There is a small turnoff to the right of the trail. If you miss it, you can still get to Devil’s Bridge, but expect to add significantly more distance to the hike.
Final Ascent to the Bridge
The first 1.2 miles of the hike are easy and mainly flat. At about 1.2 miles (closer to 1.4 miles if you take the Chuck Wagon Trail), you will take a left following signs for Devil’s Bridge. This is where the hike starts to get more scenic, and consequently much more difficult. The last mile up to the bridge is steep, but luckily quite short.
Once you arrive, you can walk out onto the bridge. Its actually not as narrow as it looks in pictures and honestly not scary to go out on! If you arrive in the early morning, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting out onto the bridge. However, the crowds do start to built up mid-morning and by the time we left there was a long line to get your picture taken on the bridge.
How to walk under Devil’s Bridge
Its also possible to walk right up underneath Devil’s Bridge, making for a cool vantage point to see where you had been standing from below. Note that this is not directly on the trail – you will have to make a short detour off a branch of the trail to get here.
Other useful resources
Planning a trip to the southwest? We think you may enjoy the following articles to help you plan your trip:
- Arizona road trip | Adventurous One Week Road Trip in Arizona & Southern Utah
- Grand Canyon: How to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
- Arizona: How to Spend One Amazing Day in Page, Arizona
- Bryce Canyon: How to Hike the Figure Eight Loop in Bryce Canyon
- Zion: Zion West Rim Trail: Backpacking Guide
- Canyonlands: How to Hike to Druid Arch in Canyonlands
- Grand Staircase: 9 Amazing Grand Staircase Escalante Hikes
For all things Arizona: Arizona Travel Guide
No trip to Sedona is complete without tracking a few miles on your feet to reach the best red rock views. As the hikes listed here are all relatively easy, we recommend going for a couple in one day.
What’s your favorite easy Sedona hike? Let us know in the comments section below.