Updated: Jul 29
Since I retired, hiking is my preferred way to explore outdoor areas. Sedona, Arizona is the perfect place to indulge in hiking. It is known as the day hiking capital of the United States. There are many rock scrambling, steep, gravelly trails. If you are like me, a rolling hill trail with panoramic views has much greater appeal. The easy trails described here are appropriate for all skill levels and would be comfortable for all active seniors, empty nestaers and retirees. They all have stunning vistas. Some of them have spurs that add some adrenaline pumping energy to the hike, if you choose to take them.
Things to Know Before You Hike
All of the hikes we did in Sedona can be found on the AllTrails App. AllTrails Pro allows you to download the trail map so you can view it if you lose cellular coverage. I would recommend doing this in Sedona. The cell phone coverage is spotty, possibly due to the energy vortexes throughout the area. Make sure you have appropriate hiking clothes and safety gear. You can find some of my hiking favorites on LiketoKnowit. and my Amazon Store.
Here are some "rules of the road" for hiking in Sedona.
Parking - while there is no shortage of scenic vistas, there is a shortage of parking at trailheads. Most parking areas require hikers to purchase a Red Rock Parking Pass for $5 per day or $15 per week. There are dispensing machines that take credit cards at the parking areas. "America the Beautiful" National Park Passes can be used as a substitute for Red Rock Parking Pass.
Leave no trace - A basic rule of wilderness explorations.
Be considerate of others using the trails - Some of these trails allow for mountain biking and/or horseback riding on the trails. Horses have the first right of way. followed by bikers, lastly hikers.
Do not approach or feed wildlife - another basis rule of wilderness explorations. We saw lots of birds as well as a Javelinas, a wild pig-like creature. Wild animals quickly develop a taste for human food if exposed to it. This causes then to become a nuisance and often destructive. Protect them and yourself by not feeding or approaching them.
Be a lightweight - The heaviest thing in your day pack should be your water. This rule will make hiking more comfortable.
Bring sun protection - Most of these trails to not provide a lot of shade, plan accordingly including, sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and protective clothing.
Pack simple survival items - Once while solo hiking, I got lost in a tangle of unmarked trails. My cell phone battery was dying and I had depleted all my water. While I did get back safely before dark, it freaked me out enough to put together a lightweight survival kit that I always carry with me when I hike.
Be kind to yourself - Hiking is a personal journey not a competition you win through enjoyment, not being the first person to complete the trail. You should walk at a pace that allows you to walk and talk at the same time. This also helps to prevent dehydration and heat stroke in the desert environment.
Watch your time - These trails are rocky and twisty. You do not want to be out there in the dark. Allow yourself time to get back before sunset.
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This is a two mile loop hike along the base of Cathedral Rock and the lower portion of Oak Creek. This hike is a great introduction into the diverse landscape in Sedona. It winds through creek beds, pine forests and red rock formations.
The All Trails App gives you several options for Loop Trails in this area. Most are categorized as easy. If you are looking for harder trails in this area, there is one that climbs Cathedral Rock.
The trail is generally flat. The wanders along Oak Creek for a large part of the hike. It is fascinating to see how the terrain is formed by the flowing water of the creek.
The views of Cathedral Rock from Oak Creek, along the Ballwin Trail.
First thing in the morning, we hiked the Andante Trail from Chimney Rock to Tea Cup Valley. This is a 3 mile out and back trail, The Andante Trail is part of a network of trails around Thunder Mountain and Chimney Rock. This hike can be as short or long as you have the energy and time to devote to it.
This was a lightly trafficked trail in the winter. The vistas of Thunder Mountain are gorgeous. Keep your eye out for Coffee Pot Rock. The wind and rain have created a giant replica of an old fashion, percolator coffee pot. We encountered a family of Javelinas, a pig-like hoofed desert animal indigenous to this area. They are fun to watch as they hunt for food and keep their babies safe. You may have to share this trail with mountain bikers. We encountered a couple groups of them along the trail.
The view from the end of the trail overlooking Tea Cup Valley.
We headed out in the early morning to hike Marg's Draw and we were rewarded with a shaded start to this 4 mile hike. We started at Morgan Road and the first part of the trail was a shaded Juniper Forest. The scent coming from the trees was heavenly, as we walked along in the cool morning air.
This is a hilly out and back trail that can be very busy. By leaving early in the morning, we were able to get a parking place and enjoy shade on the first part of the trail. The vistas along this trail breathtaking. Margs Draw is also part of a network of trails, so it is possible to customize the length of your hike.
A sweeping view of Sedona from the spot where we turned around on Margs Draw Trail.
Bell Rock Loop Trail
Our last hike in Sedona was Bell Rock Loop via the Rector Connector. By hiking in a counterclockwise direction, the trail is less trafficked and longer. On the western side of Bell Rock is the Bell Rock Vortex. I paused, stepped away from the crowds, closed my eyes and tried to feel the vortex. While I did not sense its energetic presence, I did feel a soothing influence. When I close my eyes I normally see swirls of yellow and green. In this place of vortexes, I saw red.
This trail is mostly flat. It was congested around Bell Rock. It is possible to climb to the top of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte if you are a climber. I have to confess, I have a fear of heights. Climbing rocks is not for me.
The views of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte from the Rector Connector.
Not sure you are ready to set out into the wilderness on your own, check out these two options to see the back country of Sedona in a less strenuous manner:
Ready to book your trip to Sedona, check out the great pricing on accommodations at Booking.com.
Looking for more information about visiting United States National Parks and hiking,
check out these blog posts.
For more information on visiting Sedona click on the Blog Posts below: