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Adventurous Sedona Hiking Itinerary: How to Spend 7 Days Exploring Sedona’s Trails and Sights

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Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Sarah Puckett

Wondering what the best Sedona hiking itinerary is for a week in Arizona’s world-renowned red rock region? You’ve come to the right place! Tim and I have visited Sedona multiple times over the last several years during our snowbirding winters in the southwest, and we are here to share our curated 7-day hikers’ itinerary for Sedona.

In this blog post, we share our ideal comprehensive itinerary for a week in Sedona, focusing on hiking while also highlighting other popular things to do in the area. Discover the exhilarating thrill of conquering Cathedral Rock and Bear Mountain, rewarded with panoramic views that will leave you in awe. Immerse yourself in the serene ambiance of the Chapel of the Holy Cross and the Amitabha Stupa, where spirituality meets natural beauty. We will also take you on scenic drives, wine tastings, and cultural adventures, ensuring a well-rounded experience that captures the essence of Sedona for hiking enthusiasts!

Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a nature enthusiast, this 7-day Sedona hiking itinerary will serve as your ultimate guide to unlocking the wonders of Sedona’s red rock landscapes.

7-Day Sedona Hiking Itinerary

Day 1: Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village and Airport Mesa

Stroll Downtown Sedona and the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village

After you arrive to Sedona, I recommend taking some time to settle into your accommodation. If you arrive around lunchtime, grab a bite to eat in downtown Sedona (check out Sedona Secret Garden Cafe). Then, stroll through the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, a vibrant hub of unique shops and galleries. Okay, we know this isn’t a hike, BUT the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village IS one of the best things to do in Sedona, and we want you to get in a good meal before your evening hike!

Airport Mesa Sunset Hike

Now the adventure really begins! For your first hike of the week in Sedona, check out Airport Mesa for outstanding sunset views and an excellent panoramic overview of Sedona’s landscapes. Sunsets in Sedona are magical, and the Airport Mesa Loop trail is one of the best hikes to experience it!

This moderately difficult scenic trail is just under 4 miles long, making it perfect for those who want a bit of a challenge without going too overboard on day one. The terrain is rocky and uneven at times, but as you make your way up the mesa, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Sedona’s famous red rocks.

Note that there are two parking lots for this hike, and the main one fills up quickly. Most people have to park at the secondary lot which adds about a mile round trip to your hike.

Day 2: Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Fay Canyon

Sunrise on Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona
Sunrise at Bell Rock

Sunrise Hike at Bell Rock

Start your morning with a leisurely hike at Bell Rock. This iconic rock formation is considered one of Sedona’s sacred vortices. The Bell Rock vortex is one of several spots in Sedona that are thought to hold special energy. Adherents point to the twisted, marled trees in vortex locations as evidence of the bizarre forces at play here. Some hikers report a tingling sensation when hiking the Bell Rock vortex. So are Sedona’s vortexes real? You’ll have to decide for yourself!

Cathedral Rock Hike 7 Day Sedona Hiking Itinerary
Cathedral Rock

Midmorning Hike at Cathedral Rock

Now that you are warmed up, now it’s time for a bit more of a challenging hike to one of Sedona’s most iconic views at Cathedral Rock. This is one of our top 3 favorite hikes in Sedona and one you should not skip on your hiking itinerary!

The trail starts fairly flat but quickly becomes a steep climb up Cathedral Rock. There were times Tim and I both needed to use our hands to climb up parts of the rock. If you are afraid of heights, it might not be a great idea for you. However, if you feel comfortable on a steep trail and have grippy hiking boots, Cathedral Rock high is sure to be a highlight of your week in Sedona.

When you get to the top of Cathedral Rock, you will see a sign that says “End of Trail.” Here, you have two choices, and you should choose both of them. First, follow the ridge to the right to the end of the cliff. This is a stunning overlook and one of our favorite photography spots in Sedona.

Next, hike the ridge all the way to the left. Here, you can find a short but steep scramble up to an impressive rock spire. We got here just when the sun’s rays were hitting the spire, which was a beautiful surprise since we didn’t even know about this part of the trail before!

When you’re ready, hike back down the way you came. Be careful heading down and don’t be afraid to scoot on your bum during the steep parts. This is my fool-proof strategy, inelegant though it may be!

Afternoon Visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Even if you aren’t religious, a midday visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross is worth your time. This architectural marvel is built into the red rocks of Sedona and is an icon of the city. If you have an interest in art and design, you’ll want to check this place out!

Sunset Hike at Fay Canyon

The hike begins with a leisurely stroll through a serene desert setting. The trail gradually gains elevation, revealing stunning vistas along the way. As you venture deeper into the canyon, the trail becomes slightly more challenging, but nothing too strenuous.

Arriving at the end of the trail, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking amphitheater-like scene with towering cliffs.

PS: Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for guidance along the trail when you hike back after sunset!

Day 3: Soldier Pass and Red Rock State Park

Morning Hike on Soldiers Pass Trail

Start your third day in Sedona with our FAVORITE hike in the Coconino National Forest: Soldier Pass! This trail features several landmarks you will want to stop and take photos or simply admire:

  1. The Sinkhole (Devil’s Kitchen): First, you’ll come across the Sinkhole, also known as Devil’s Kitchen. This geological wonder is a collapsed underground chamber, creating a deep opening.
  2. Seven Sacred Pools: Approximately halfway through the hike, you’ll reach the Seven Sacred Pools. These natural pools, carved into the red rocks, offer a peaceful oasis amidst the desert landscape. Take a moment to relax and appreciate the tranquility of these serene pools. If you’re lucky, you will see them filled with water!
  3. Soldier Pass Cave: Our favorite highlight of the Soldier Pass hike is the Soldier Pass Cave. This hidden gem tucked away amidst the rocks offers a fascinating exploration opportunity. It’s a bit of a scramble to get up inside the cave, but once you’re in, it feels like a hidden world. The photo opportunities are absolutely mindblowing here too.

Afternoon Hiking at Red Rock State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park offers several captivating hikes that showcase the beauty of the area’s stunning rock formations and desert landscapes. Check out one or both of these short and medium-distance hikes during your afternoon hiking in Red Rock State park.

Eagles Nest Trail:

Javelina Trail:

Day 4: West Fork Trail, Sedona Art Center, Doe Mountain

Morning Hike on the West Fork Trail

The trail is located in the Coconino National Forest and winds along the banks of Oak Creek, through towering canyon walls, and lush greenery.

The trailhead for the West Fork Trail can be found at the end of Oak Creek Canyon Road. The parking lot fills up quickly on weekends, so it’s best to arrive early or plan your visit during weekdays. Once you begin your hike, you’ll immediately be surrounded by towering rock formations that rise high above you. The red rocks are part of what makes Sedona such a unique place to explore. Many people compare the West Fork Trail to the Narrows hike in Zion National Park!

As you make your way down the path, you’ll cross over several creeks and streams via well-placed stepping stones. Be sure to wear waterproof shoes or boots as there will almost certainly be water crossings throughout your hike.

Also, if you are visiting Sedona in the summertime, this hike is a great option since it’s one of the few Sedona hikes that offers a lot of shade.

Visit Sedona Arts Center

Between hikes and to beat the heat, make a midday visit to the Sedona Arts Center. If you’re interested in viewing or purchasing art or learning about local artists’ works, the gallery at Sedona Art Center is a must-visit. Its collection features contemporary pieces from both established and emerging artists who hail from Arizona and beyond. You can think of the Sedona Arts Center as Sedona’s local art museum, showing off the city’s eclectic and creative personality.

Sunset Hike at Doe Mountain

The hike up Doe Mountain is a short but steep rocky trek to the top of the flat mountain.

Once at the summit, you will have unobstructed views of other nearby landmarks like Bear Wallow Canyon, Munds Mountain Wilderness Area, and Boynton Canyon. This is what makes it such a great sunset hike! The view from here provides enough reason for people to want to experience this fantastic hiking destination.

Day 5: Devil’s Bridge, Birthing Cave, Merry-Go-Round Rock, Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park

Sarah stands in a white coat on Devils Bridge in Sedona, Arizona

Sunrise Hike to Devil’s Bridge

Devil’s Bridge is one of the most popular hiking trails in Sedona, Arizona, and for good reason. The hike takes you through some of the most beautiful and scenic landscapes in the area, leading to a natural sandstone arch that spans over 50 feet.

We recommend tackling Devil’s Bridge trail for sunrise because that will give you the best chance of having some relative solitude on the trail. Devil’s Bridge stays busy pretty much constantly, but sunrise will be somewhat less crowded.

The trail itself is well-maintained and easy to follow, but it can get steep at times.

As you make your way up the trail toward Devil’s Bridge, you’ll be treated to stunning views of red rock formations surrounding you on all sides. Once you reach the arch itself, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Sedona below.

If you’re feeling bold, and the line isn’t too long, you can walk out onto Devil’s Bridge for the ultimate Sedona hiking photo op. We waited in line for about an hour for this photo, which is the most we’ve ever waited for a picture. But, to us it was worth it! Also, the. bridge is not as scary or narrow as it looks in photos. However, definitely avoid the edges because a fall would be deadly.

Sedona Birthing Cave Unique Hike
Birthing Cave, Sedona

Morning Hike to Birthing Cave

After your sunrise hike at Devil’s Bridge, the next stop on your Sedona hiking itinerary is the iconic Birthing Cave! This is one of the most picturesque caves in Sedona.

This cave gets very busy, and although it is large, there is very little actual surface that is flat enough to sit or stand on. The cave is essentially an oval, so most of the cave wall is curved at a steep grade. Definitely be careful where you walk inside the cave and wear grippy hiking boots so you don’t slip and fall!

Tip: If you want to get epic photos of Birthing Cave, you’ll want to bring a wide-angle lens for your camera, or set your phone camera to the 0.5 setting so you can capture all the walls of this ultra-wide cave!

Merry Go Round Rock hike in Sedona Arizona

Afternoon Hike to Merry Go Round Rock

In the afternoon, make your way to Munds Wagon Trailhead where you’ll start your hike to Merry Go Round Rock! This is one of our favorite hikes in Sedona, and one we only discovered recently. It’s still a lesser-known hiking destination. We saw only a few other people on the weekday we hiked in February.

The trail starts in an open area and eventually traverses onto rocky terrain following a stream. With high water levels, you may get to see mini-waterfalls along the way! It’s a very picturesque trail so don’t be surprised if, like us, you find yourself stopping to enjoy the surroundings frequently!

Eventually, you will arrive at Merry-Go-Round Rock, which has little rocky stumps circling it that resemble horses and carriages on a merry-go-round. Once again nature shows us how cool erosion is.

To find the peephole photo op at Merry-Go-Round Rock, follow the edge of the cliff on your left as you approach the rock on the main trail. You’ll see a short trail to the rim and then a series of natural rock steps down to the hole in the rock. You can get to the “platform” that the hole frames by going back to the trail and then following another set of rugged rock steps out to the flat rock top.

Sunset Visit to Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park

After another adventurous day of hiking in Sedona, tonight you’ll bring it down a notch to a more tranquil pace at the beautiful and serene Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park.

The Amitabha Stupa was built under the guidance of H.H. Chetsang Rinpoche, the head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. It was consecrated in 2004 and has since become an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Surrounding the stupa is the Peace Park, which features beautiful gardens, walking trails, meditation areas, and stunning views of Sedona’s red rocks.

Some even say that the Amitabha Stupa also offers healing benefits. Many people have reported experiencing physical or emotional relief after visiting it. Some even claim that it has helped them overcome illnesses or difficult life situations.

Day 6: Bear Mountain, Honanki, Paltiki, and Montezuma Castle

Morning Hike to Summit of Bear Mountain

This morning you will tackle what is probably the most difficult trek on this Sedona hiking itinerary! Today you’re going to summit Bear Mountain, considered one of the most challenging hikes in Sedona.

It’s a steep hike the entire way, and the final ascent requires some scrambling over rocks and boulders before reaching the summit. Once hikers reach Bear Mountain’s peak, they’ll find themselves standing atop a towering red sandstone formation with sweeping views of Oak Creek Canyon and distant mountain ranges.

We recommend starting this hike early in the morning, around sunrise or a bit before, so you can avoid warmer temperatures during the trek. Bring lots of water and some salty snacks, too!

Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument

Afternoon Historical Explorations

After your big hike this morning, we recommend taking it easy on your legs and driving to nearby historical sites like Honanki Heritage Site, Paltiki Heritage Site, and Montezuma Castle National Monument. All of those showcase the dwellings of indigenous and Sinagua people whose history dates back over 700 years in the region.

Day 7: Boynton Canyon to Subway Cave and Sedona Heritage Museum

Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona, Arizona
Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon Trail

Morning Hike in Boynton Canyon

Before you leave Sedona, we have one last hike for your 7-day itinerary! Boynton Canyon is one of the most popular trails in Sedona.

The first part of the hike takes you through a scenic valley surrounded by towering red rock cliffs. You’ll pass by lush vegetation, including juniper trees and cacti.

Afternoon Visit to Sedona Heritage Museum

If you have time before leaving Sedona, be sure to check out the Sedona Heritage Museum where you can learn about the history of the town. Having just experienced the best hikes and sites in the area, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for Sedona’s fascinating history and what makes it the awe-inspiring, quirky, and spiritual hiking destination it is today.

Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona
Hiking on Bell Rock

Tips for Hiking in Sedona

Here are some key tips for making the most of this 7-day Sedona hiking itinerary.

How much time do you need in Sedona?

This itinerary is written for one week in Sedona, which we think allows avid hikers maximum opportunity to hike a variety of trails in Sedona, from rivers to caves, and canyons to cliffs. We think 7 days is the perfect amount of time to get a taste of everything!

That said, you can definitely experience a rewarding trip to Sedona in as little as a long weekend! To custom-craft your own hiking itinerary for Sedona, we recommend just picking your favorite of the seven days outlined in this post to mix and match the daily itineraries to suit the length of your Sedona trip!

Our personal recommendation? If you only have three days or a long weekend in Sedona, we recommend doing Days 2, 3, and 5 from the itinerary above!

Best Time to Visit

We think late fall, winter, and early spring are the best seasons to visit Sedona for a hiking trip. All of our trips to Sedona have been in January or February. We really like Sedona in January as it’s a quieter time of the year and temperatures are very mild and perfect for hiking. The summer is scorching hot and hiking in extreme heat is not just unpleasant, it’s incredibly dangerous.

Staying Safer in the Desert Sun

When embarking on a hiking adventure in Sedona, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety and well-being. The desert climate can be unforgiving, especially during the hot summer months, so make sure to bring an ample supply of water to stay hydrated throughout your journey. Additionally, wearing a hat can provide much-needed shade and protect your face and head from the scorching sun. Applying sunscreen is equally important, as it helps shield your skin from harmful UV rays and prevents sunburns, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience.

Average Temperatures in Sedona Arizona
Average Temperatures in Sedona, Arizona

Parking Fees in Sedona

Many of the hikes in Sedona are within the Coconino National Forest. To park at these trailheads, you will need to purchase a $5/day, $15/week, or $20/year Red Rocks Pass at the trailhead. Alternatively, if you have the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass, you can use that as well!

Sedona Shuttle

The free Sedona Shuttle runs year-round Thursday through Sunday and is a great way to avoid parking and traffic hassles during your hiking trip to Sedona. For hiking trails along the shuttle route, we’ve indicated which stop to use.

Use Navigation Tools

Sedona boasts a vast network of hiking trails, and it’s easy to get disoriented or lose your way amidst the stunning red rock formations. Utilizing a reliable navigation tool such as AllTrails can be immensely helpful. These apps provide detailed maps, trail descriptions, and user reviews, giving you a clear understanding of the route and its difficulty level. By following the designated trail and staying on course, you can avoid unnecessary detours and ensure a safer and more efficient hiking experience.

We’ve provided links to the AllTrails maps for each hike included in this itinerary.

Leave No Trace

One of the core principles of responsible outdoor recreation is to “Leave No Trace.” This means leaving the environment as you found it, or even better. When hiking in Sedona, make sure to pack out all trash, including food wrappers, water bottles, and any other items you bring with you. Dispose of waste properly at designated bins or take it with you to maintain the pristine beauty of the area. Respect the natural surroundings, avoid disturbing wildlife, and minimize your impact on the ecosystem, allowing future hikers to appreciate the unspoiled splendor of Sedona’s red rock landscape.

Stay on trail

When hiking in Sedona, it’s vital to respect and preserve the fragile desert ecosystem. Veering off the designated trails can disrupt delicate flora and fauna, cause soil erosion, and damage the natural environment. To minimize your impact, stay on the established paths and avoid creating new ones. By sticking to the trail, you not only protect the ecosystem but also reduce the risk of getting lost or encountering dangerous terrain.

Don’t build rock cairns

While it may be tempting to leave your mark or help guide other hikers, building rock cairns (stacks of rocks) is discouraged in Sedona. These structures can disrupt the natural balance of the landscape, confuse fellow hikers, and even harm the local wildlife. It’s best to appreciate the natural beauty of Sedona’s red rock formations without altering them. Instead, rely on trail markers, maps, or navigation tools to find your way, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the pristine environment without unnecessary human interference.

Merry Go Round Rock Hike

Final Thoughts on 7 Day Sedona Hiking Itinerary

To summarize, here is our ideal 7-day Sedona hiking itinerary:

  • Day 1: Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village and Airport Mesa
  • Day 2: Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Fay Canyon
  • Day 3: Soldier Pass and Red Rock State Park
  • Day 4: West Fork Trail, Sedona Art Center, Doe Mountain
  • Day 5: Devil’s Bridge, Birthing Cave, Merry-Go-Round Rock, Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
  • Day 6: Bear Mountain, Honanki, Paltiki, and Montezuma Castle
  • Day 7: Boynton Canyon to Subway Cave and Sedona Heritage Museum

We hope this 7-day Sedona hiking itinerary helps you plan an amazing hiking trip to one of the most beautiful red rock desert hiking destinations on earth, Sedona, Arizona!

Want even more Sedona adventures? Check out our list of over 35 unique things to do in Sedona! If you are looking for more adventures in Arizona or the USA, don’t miss our other guides!

Click here for Arizona Guides

Click here for USA Guides

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