Hiking in Sedona, AZ

Sedona is a hiker’s paradise. Tim and I had so much fun hiking in Sedona. Many of the hikes were great for Calla, too. We also thoroughly enjoyed some strenuous solo hikes. This post will focus on hiking in the Sedona area – I covered our boondocking stay and details on downtown Sedona in this post.

Fun along the Boynton Canyon Trail

Let me start out by saying that we in no way did all of the hikes in Sedona. We didn’t even make it to some of the more popular ones – Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. Mostly we chose hikes that were close to our campsite. Cathedral Rock was on the other side of Sedona, and every time we thought about driving there, hiking, then coming back, we always ran into an obstacle around Calla needing a nap. We definitely want to come back to Sedona, so we will have plenty to do on our return visit!

The Coconino has my heart

When we plan hikes, we mostly use AllTrails. Here’s their list for Sedona. Then we use the map view, find our camping spot, and research which hikes are close and have good reviews. We also look a lot at the total distance and elevation gain. We love a difficult hike by ourselves, but if we go as a family, we choose easy or moderate ones.  Here are some of the hikes we did in Sedona:

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon was our first hike in Sedona. This hike gave us a good feel for just how diverse Sedona is – you have the beautiful red rock, of course – but this hike showed us just how lush the vegetation is, which is quite different from what we had seen in Arizona thus far. Oak Creek Canyon had green trees (yes, this is a big deal once you’ve been in the desert for months), tons of creek crossings, and lots of little waterfalls. Prior to this we hadn’t seen a woodsy environment in a very long time. It even reminded us of home! Calla had a ton of fun throwing rocks into water on this hike.

The only downside of this hike is that you have to pay $10 just to hike, which is crazy. Sedona really capitalizes on the fact that it’s so beautiful.

At the trailhead for Oak Creek Canyon
After seeing nothing but cacti and sand for months, this scenery looked amazing to us
One of the many creek crossings in Oak Creek Canyon
We’ve gotta keep it real. Calla is not always happy about hiking!

Fay Canyon

Fay Canyon was recommended to us by another full-time RVing family, who said that it was a great hike to do with kids. It was pretty short – a couple of miles, if I recall correctly, and the real treat was at the end. There was a giant pile of rocks you could climb up (we took turns – Calla couldn’t come) and get a beautiful view of the red rock canyons of Sedona.

The Fay Canyon Trailhead
Hiking Fay Canyon. Calla did most of this hike by herself, not in the carrier!
Tim took this picture when he climbed on top of the rocks. You can see Cathedral Rock in the distance

Boynton Canyon

We hiked a small portion of Boynton Canyon because we read that there was a vortex there. It was a beautiful hike, and we took it really slowly because Calla didn’t want to be in the carrier. She wanted to climb up the rocks and hills all by herself! The most interesting thing about this hike is that we saw some barefoot hippies doing yoga on top of a very tall rock. Looked extremely scary to me, but he was rocking his Warror III at least a hundred feet in the air. Maybe he was feeling the vortex energy?!

Calla was kind of cranky on this hike, so we didn’t really get a chance to stop and see if we felt anything from the vortex.

The guy doing yoga on top of the rocks
Hiking Boynton Canyon
This pic was taken by Tim. He climbed the rocks at Boynton Canyon, and Calla wanted to follow him!
My “trying to ignore my whiny toddler but it’s not so secretly annoying me” face
These rock cairns are all over Sedona

Honanki Heritage Site

I went to the Honanki Heritage Site by myself real quick after my Loy Canyon hike (see below). They were very close to each other. The Honanki Site requires either an entrance fee or a NPS annual pass. They are Sinagua ruins from 1150AD. These ruins were amazing, built right into the red rocks. What really took me by surprise was the number of petroglyphs here, and how easy they were to see. There is a lot of walking involved at this site (fine by me) but keep in mind it’s about 1 mile into the ruins and a mile back out. I had to rush through it because I needed to get home, but I wish I had more time to soak it in. Oh, another thing I just remembered – the road to get there is EXTREMELY rough!! Kind of a theme with these dirt roads in Sedona.

Info about the Honanki Site
Cliff dwellings and petroglyphs

Loy Canyon

Loy Canyon is a trail that was very close to our boondocking spot, but I’d call it a bit of a hiking fail. I did this trail by myself. The first 2 miles were sand, and I’m not a fan of hiking in the sand. I also got charged by a javelina on this trail. I heard a weird noise in the brush, and my first feeling was that it was a dog. I remember thinking “Wow, why would a dog be in the middle of nowhere?” (No houses or anything nearby). Then a javelina came out of the brush and got very close to me. I screamed and threw up my hands (I’m sure this was very effective…) and it turned around and went back into the brush. I think my heart-rate was probably at an all time high.

Yucca + Red Rocks = gorgeous contrast

I kept going with the hike but I was on high alert. After this I purchased pepper spray and now carry it with me on all my hikes. The scenery on this hike wasn’t that spectacular compared to the other hikes we did, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

See the spiral of pinecones under the tree? One cool thing from the Loy Canyon Hike!

Devil’s Bridge

Devil’s Bridge is a very popular hike in Sedona, and for good reason. At the end of the trail is a beautiful natural sandstone arch (the largest one in Sedona), which you can walk on top of and get some amazing pictures. We did this hike separately because who in their right mind wants their toddler on top of an arch?

I am scared of heights and thought I’d have a problem walking out onto the arch but it wasn’t scary at all. A lot of the other people on the trail were too scared to go out onto the arch. If you go there, please go on the arch! It’s not as scary as it looks.

Our tip for Devil’s Bridge would be to park at the trail head for the Chuck Wagon trail, as it’s a lot less crowded. It only adds about 1.5 miles onto the hike and you can actually find a place to park your car, unlike the trailhead for Devil’s Bridge.

 

Tim on Devil’s Bridge. Note the trees under him!
Devil’s Bridge Trail
Me on Devil’s Bridge. Isn’t Sedona beautiful?
A stranger on Devil’s Bridge. This angle really shows off the natural arch.
Scenery on the Chuck Wagon Trial. I’ll always have fond memories of hiking in the red dirt!

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain was our favorite hike in Sedona – it’s also the most difficult in the area! Bear Mountain was, in fact, a bear of a hike. Tim and I each did this hike, but we did it separately.

This hike has 2,000 feet of elevation gain in less than 2.5 miles. For those who aren’t hikers, let me just tell you, that that is a LOT of elevation gain in a very little amount of time. Translation: incredibly steep hike! This hike had so many gorgeous views. The cacti and wildflowers were just starting to bloom. Around every corner of the mountain was a new view. I just love hikes like this, where your difficult trek is rewarded at regular intervals with beautiful views. We read about it ahead of time and we knew not to be fooled by the “false summits”, meaning, you think you’re done climbing, but you’re not. You round the corner and there’s even more hill to go.

To this day, Bear Mountain remains one of the most difficult hikes we have done. By the end, I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish it, but I did. Bring hiking poles if you have them – I used them a LOT on this hike!

Yes, this is the trail. Have your mountain goat skills ready
Warning sign at the trailhead
A scenic view along the Bear Mountain hike
Another picture of the trail. See why I said hiking poles are a good idea?
Exhausted…check. At least the second half is downhill! I’ve never been so happy to see this sign

Random Note

We saw this bus driving by our campsite a couple of times, and it says “HANNAH” on both sides and the back. I thought it was pretty cool, so I took a picture of it when I saw it boondocking down the road. To whoever owns this bus named Hannah, you made my day!

The Hannah bus

 

Date Visited: April 2018

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