Hiking in the Verde River Valley & Sedona
Hiking is one of the most popular recreational activities for visitors coming to the Verde River Valley and Sedona, Arizona. Even people who have never hiked before get wrapped up in the beauty of the red rocks, clean air and desert flora and fauna that Sedona and the Verde River Valley provide. Below you will find a list of our favorite hikes, eco-friendly guided hikes, hiking tips to help first time hikers get the most out of their Sedona hiking experience and Verde River Valley & Sedona hiking resources. Please remember to respect the ecosystem of the area, leave no evidence of your visit so that future generations can experience, learn and enjoy the area.
Bell Rock Pathway
One of the favorite, and most famous, hikes in Sedona, Arizona for both vacationers and locals alike is the Bell Rock Pathway. This trail takes you on a scenic journey of the red rocks with panoramic views that can’t be beat. This hiking trail is marked as easy to moderate and there are other paths and trails that lead off of the Pathway for you and your family to explore. The Bell Rock Pathway is a 3½ mile trail linking the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona. Most of the pathway has a wide, hard surface, but there are some steep hills too. Some places around Bell Rock are rocky and rough. You can access this hike from two different points:
- From the junction of Routes 89A and 179 in Sedona, take 179 south 3.6 miles to a paved turnout and trailhead parking on the left (east) at milepost 309.8, .2 miles south of the entrance to the United Methodist Church for the northern trailhead.
- From the South Gateway Visitor Center located at 4050 Red Rock Loop Road, Sedona, go 1 mile north to Bell Rock parking area on your right.
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Broken Arrow Trail
Broken Arrow Trail is an easy and popular hike on a good trail with great red rock scenery. The trail is unshaded and can be hot in summer. Begin at the signed trailhead which will direct you across the jeep road to the trail. After 200 feet, the trail bears left (south) and soon crosses a ledge at the foot of Battlement Mesa. At .6 miles, look for the fence around Devil’s Dining Room Sinkhole 100 feet to the left and downhill. The trail continues as it gradually climbs to some scenic red rock outcrops beside Twin Buttes on the right. Continue to the end of the trail at Chicken Point at 1½ miles. To access this hike from the junction of Routes 89A and 179 in Sedona, take 179 south 1.4 miles to Morgan Road on the left (east). Go .6 miles to the end of the pavement, cross the cattle guard and continue for another 80 yards to trailhead parking on the left.
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West Fork Oak Creek Trail
There are a number of reasons why West Fork is the most popular trail on the Coconino National Forest. You’ll know some of them once you’ve strolled beside the pleasant little stream that ripples along the canyon floor and looked up, way up, at the dizzying cliffs that tower above it. You’ll know even more if you come in the spring, when migrating songbirds decorate the trees with flashes of brilliance, or in the fall when pastel leaves float in clear reflecting pools under a canopy of solid color. You can add to that list if you come in the winter, when icicles hang from red rock overhangs and snatches of snow persist in cool shadows. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably find a new reason to hike here every time you visit. To access the West Fork Oak Creek Trail drive north 9.5 miles from Sedona to about halfway between milepost 385 and 384. The trailhead is on the west (left) side of the highway down a paved lane that leads behind a few creek side houses.
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Eco-Friendly Guided Hikes
Sedona Adventure Tours
“Unforgettable Outdoor Fun & Family Friendly Adventure”
Sedona Adventure Tours offers a variety of hiking experiences for any level, from novice to adventurer. Their guided hikes typically run 2.5 to 3 hours. Your Sedona hiking adventure comes with an awesome knowledgeable guide who will pick you up at your hotel with a hiking pole, water, snacks and a fanny pack to put your camera and any other personal items in. Sedona Adventure Tours offers hiking tours that combine other activities in Sedona and the Verde River Valley. If you prefer a custom private trip to explore several areas of Sedona they can provide you with a full day of hiking. They also provide group hikes for larger events. For more information please visit Sedona Adventure Tours.
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Dead Horse Ranch State Park
The Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers “Nature Walks” during diffrent seasons of the year, typically on Sunday mornings. The guided hikes will meander along riparian areas or stroll through the high desert trails within the park. Hikers need to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and wear appropriate clothing; sturdy shoes, a hat. Most hikes start at the Quail Loop Campground – inquire at the gate for starting points. For more information, call 928.634.5283 or visit Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
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Red Rock State Park
Red Rock State Park offers a variety of guided hikes and walks including bird, nature, geology and moonlight hikes with a volunteer guide throughout the year. Red Rock State Park is a 286 acre nature preserve and environmental education center with stunning scenery. The mission of the park is to preserve the riparian habitat associated with Oak Creek; to serve as an environmental education facility; and to provide limited passive recreational opportunities. To learn more about the park and their guided hikes please visit Red Rock State Park.
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Tips for Hiking in Sedona
- Hiking in Sedona in the summer? Early morning hikes are highly suggested!
- Make sure to bring plenty of water. Even if you are only hiking a short distance, hydration is key. Take more than you think you will need.
- Create a hiking backpack that includes water, first aid kit, protein snacks, trail map, compass, sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Hikes in Sedona are rated from easy to strenuous however from personal experience, if you are a novice hiker like I am, watch your pace and go in knowing there are some strenuous inclines on some of the easy marked hikes.
- It is always safer to hike with others. Always let somebody know what trails you plan on hiking.
- A Red Rock Pass is needed to park at trail heads. All types of passes are available, from day use to yearly passes.
- Wear suitable clothing and shoes for hiking. I was a mile into a hike on Bell Rock Pathway and witnessed a young couple in dress clothes, this is not advised!
- Don’t leave the trail. The ecosystem of the desert is fragile and leaving even a footprint can damage it.
- The trails in Sedona are very traveled and it is unlikely that you will come across a rattler, however if your tromp around off the trails you are asking for trouble! With that said be aware of your surroundings and respect the wildlife of Sedona!
- Bring a camera to take some amazing shots.
- Know your limitations.
- Don’t rush your hiking experience. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.
The following websites have useful information on the trails available in the Sedona-Verde Valley area.
- Coconino National Forest
- Offers information, rules & tips on the trails in the Coconino National Forest.
- Great Sedona Hikes
Great resource for Sedona hiking by a local Sedona hiking enthusiast, who has published two Sedona hiking books.
- Red Rock State Parks
Download aerial maps of the trails.