Red rocks that jut out into a crisp blue sky. Formations that have weathered over time and through the elements. Taking a trip to Sedona offers an invitation – to get up close and personal with natural landscapes that change color as the sun rises or sets.
Amidst all of these rocks of course are hundreds of hiking trails that become home to tourists and locals alike trying to find that mystical vortex or hiking nirvana. Except that with so many trails, it can be hard to find where to hike in Sedona….especially if you are hiking with kids.
Hiking resources in Sedona
Prior to family trip to Sedona, I ordered a book, Great Sedona Hikes with recommended hiking trails and scoured the internet for trails with pictures to gauge whether they would be appropriate for our family of three. The first step was to narrow down the selection to a few trails that seemed realistic for our family of three (which meant they needed to be easy to moderate since I was not entirely sure of my daughter’s endurance levels). The plan, prior to arriving, was to hike Boynton Canyon Trail (moderate, 6 miles round trip and known for a source of energy as a vortex site) and Devil’s Bridge Trail (moderate, 2 miles round trip)…and then play it by ear.
Once we got to Sedona, we found another book, Sedona’s Top 10 Hikes. This book offered better descriptions to decide where to hike (and the pictures were stunning). We changed our plans to include Cathedral Rock and the Bell Rock loop…because how could we not take advantage of our time to squeeze in as many hikes as possible while we were there? After using the new book to hike Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing, we discovered that while the images are indeed stunning, and the information was very detailed including trail maps, narrative descriptions, and useful tips, the book itself is slightly out of date. (For instance, the book said there was a foot bridge to cross the creek, when in fact there was no foot bridge.)
Find everything you need to know about hiking in Sedona at The Hike House.
On our last day, we stumbled into the Hike House in the heart of Sedona (apparently as I have gotten older, my hair has thinned and my husband is not the only one who needs to wear a hat). What we thought was just a cute place to get hiking gear and fuel up at their energy cafe turned out to be the stop that we should have made FIRST thing when getting into town.
The Hike House is not just a store, it is an educational experience, designed by the owner, Greg Stevenson and his wife. In addition to a new book of hikes, the Sedona Hiking Book (my favorite of all three of the books that we had accumulated), the Hike House has created an interactive Sedona Trail Finder experience that will provide customized hiking trail suggestions, pointing you in the direction of where to hike in Sedona, for you based on your interests and abilities. The trail finder is free to use…plus if you are lucky like we were, chief hiker Greg or one of his knowledgeable staff will talk you through the choices, picking the perfect hike. Thinking that we were giving up on Devil’s Bridge because of road construction Greg convinced us to approach Devil’s Bridge from a different trail head, that based on the results of our Trail Finder would appeal to me as a “meaty” hike and to our daughter who wanted opportunities to climb and scale rock.
Favorite Sedona Hikes
Granted, saying that I have favorite hikes in Sedona makes it sound like I have hiked there more often than I did. One 5 day trip certainly does not qualify me as an expert…however…I did leave Sedona with two favorite hikes.
The first favorite Sedona hike was Bell Rock.
They say that this is an easy hike, and in many respects it is….until you decide that you would like to climb UP Bell Rock, with a mixture of rock scaling, shimmy-ing, and scooting up (and then down) each new plateau. The “rock climbing” made it incredibly fun for my daughter and picturesque for us.
And then there was the view when you turned around…
The second favorite Sedona hike was Devil’s Bridge.
We actually started, not at the Devil’s Bridge trail head, but at the Chuckwagon Trail Head that led us to the Devil’s Bridge trail head. Not only did this add some distance (which is what we wanted), but it also led us through a dry creek bed. (And how often does one find themselves in a creek bed?)
The trail up to the Natural Arch is not difficult per se, but does include a few patches that allow for only “one person” traffic up or down some relatively steep stone rocks. Having picked up sandwiches at Sedona Memories Bakery, we found ourselves lingering at the top, watching as people took hesitant first steps out on to the arch (it looks much worse than it really is).
Spending one day hiking the Grand Canyon left us only three days to hike in Sedona. Even though each hike was more breathtaking than the last, it seems like we only just scratched the surface of where to hike in Sedona. Which I suppose means we will need to go back. Although maybe we should try doing some more hiking closer to home one of these days…
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