Amazing Two Days of Hiking in Sedona 

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Last updated Apr 8, 2024

Nestled in the unparalleled beauty of red canyons, Sedona is an adventurers’ paradise not to be missed. Over the next two days, we will explore the wonders of this area through a series of breathtaking hikes.

This itinerary is packed with two full days of hiking – close to 30 miles. In these two days of hiking in Sedona, we hit all the most popular trails and provide our take on hikes to skip or add. We also provide alternative parking options as this is a big issue in Sedona.

Permits and Parking

As much of a hiking wonderland as Sedona is, the parking at trailheads is a real issue and you will either need to start your hiking days early or utilize Sedona Shuttle. We have organized these hikes in a way where you can utilize the same trailhead parking for multiple hikes. It does add distance for some of the hikes, but it was worth the extra steps for us. We started each morning shortly after 8 am and lucked out with finding parking spots. 

Red Rocks Pass (or America the Beautiful, Golden Age or Golden Access) is required when hiking in National Forest land in Red Rocks County. You can buy the pass online, or most parking spots have a ticket machine where you can buy a daily, weekend, or week pass.

UPDATE: During our time in Sedona (March 2024), the Cathedral Rock trail was closed as popular as that hike is, it is not included in this itinerary but you get a good view of it from Courthouse Butte Loop. 

Day 1: Devil’s Bridge, Birthing Cave and Soldier Pass Loop 

On day one we hiked Devil’s Bridge, Birthing Cave and Soldier Pass Loop.

We lucked out with parking at the Mezcal Trailhead, which served as our starting point for both Devil’s Bridge and Birthing Cave hikes. The normal Devil’s Bridge trailhead parking off Dry Creek Rd. and Birthing Cave off Long Canyon Rd. were both full by 8 am.

At the Mezcal Trailhead, we found restrooms and picnic tables, albeit with no water supply. The Devil’s Bridge trail starts across the street and for the first 0.65 miles provides a nice shaded stroll. After that, it opens up and provides amazing vistas of red rock scenery.  

At 1.25 miles the trail connects with a 4×4 parking lot for Devil’s Bridge and the official trail starts. From here the trail begins to pick up some incline, but nothing too bad until the last 0.3 miles. The last part is most of the elevation gain over the slick rock. Just when you get tired of climbing, you are there! But this is where the fun begins. If you are interested in taking a picture you will have to queue up and wait for your turn. It took us over 30 minutes to get an opportunity to walk out on the bridge.  

Two Days of Hiking in Sedona
Devil’s Bridge | Amazing Two Days of Hiking in Sedona

I am not one for standing in line for pictures but we really wanted to experience walking on the bridge and I am glad we waited to do so. It is much wider than it appears from the spectator corner. 

After Devil’s Bridge head back to the parking lot. When you cross the street to get to the parking lot the trail to the right labeled Mezcal is a connecting trail to Long Canyon Trail, the trail to Birthing Cave.  

TIP: If you need to use the restroom or want to take a break at one of the picnic tables do that in Mezcal Trailhead parking lot. The Long Canyon Trailhead does not have any facilities.  

The connecting Mezcal trail to Long Canyon Trail is 0.4 miles. Once again the trail is well maintained and very easy until the very end where you gain all the elevation in a very short distance. Although some found this climb daunting, it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as the Subway Cave ascent. Inside the cave, finding a spot for the iconic photo was tricky amidst the crowds, making it our least favorite hike due to the chaotic atmosphere and views were not as stunning as some other hikes.

Two Days of Hiking in Sedona
Birthing Cave | Amazing Two Days of Hiking in Sedona

After these two morning hikes, we drove out to Jim Thompson trailhead for the Soldier Pass Loop. The parking lot of the Soldier Pass Rd. fills up quickly so we didn’t even try to look for parking there.  

Most people only hike parts of this trail to see Devil’s Kitchen, Sacred Pools and possibly the secret caves and make it in and out trail. We did this loop in a counterclockwise direction starting on Brin’s Mesa trail and then contented to Soldier Pass and took the Cibola Pass back to the parking lot.  

This was definitely our favorite hike. The views from Brin’s Mesa were so vast and beautiful, then walking on the mesa all in complete silence and serenity was just a beautiful experience. Then once connected to the Soldier Pass trail the views got even better, where you could see all the way to the Bell Rock.  

Two Days of Hiking in Sedona
View from Brin’s Mesa | Two Days of Hiking in Sedona

The climb to the secret caves was just as steep but a rewarding spot for a brief break. The Seven Sacred Pools didn’t quiet live up to their name or as one disappointed kid put it so delicately “This is not a pool!” However, Devil’s Kitchen was impressive to see and read about.  

Afterward, a final ascent to Cibola Pass brought us back to the parking lot, concluding our exhilarating first day.

This concludes day one, and if you are looking for a way to reduce the distance hiked I would recommend skipping Birthing Cave. 

Day 1 Hike Stats 

All the stats provided are from the trailheads we used. 

Devil’s Bridge 

Distance: 4.21 miles in-and-out 
Elevations: 691 feet 
Trailhead: Mezcal Trailhead 
Facilities: Restrooms and picnic tables 

Birthing Cave 

Distance: 3.14 miles, in-and-out 
Elevation: 433 feet 
Trailhead: Mezcal Trailhead 
Facilities: Bathrooms and picnic tables 

Soldier Pass Loop 

Distance: 5.75 miles, loop 
Elevations: 1266 feet 
Trailhead: Jim Thompson Trailhead, unpaved road, high clearance vehicle recommended 
Facilities: Bathrooms 

Day 2: Boynton Canyon to Subway Cave, Fay Canyon, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop 

On day two we hiked Boynton Canyon with a side trail to Subway Cave, Fay Canyon with a side trail to the natural arch, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop. After a rigorous 13 miles of hiking the day before, we anticipated today’s journey would not be a walk in the park. 

Since Subway Cave is one of the most popular hikes we recommend starting with this hike, as early as you can make it to Boynton Canyon trailhead. The first mile of the hike is along the road and eventually veers off into a more secluded forest trail. Subway Cave is an unofficial hike, and there are no trail signs for it. Around 2.3 miles into the hike you will come to the fork in the trail, for the Subway Cave veer right and for Boynton Canyon continue straight ahead.  

Since Subway Cave is very popular we decided to go here first and I’m glad we did. It got really busy as we were leaving. From the main trail to Subway Cave is only 0.35 miles with a gradual ascend until the entrance to the cave. 

Two Days of Hiking in Sedona
Subway Cave | Amazing Two Days of Hiking in Sedona

There is no easy way to get to this view. You can either go straight up the joint where the caves come together. Or up to the left side of one of the rocks and then walk on the ledge to the cave. Neither of these options is easy but if you decide to conquer this adventure you will not regret it. The cave is just amazingly shaped and the views from there are not to miss. 

Once you reconnect with the main trail you can either go back to the parking lot or continue to the end of the trail and get a view of Boynton Canyon. The trail is pretty easy through the shaded forest. At the end of the trail, there is an open area to take a break and enjoy the views. 

The trailhead for Fay Canyon is less than half a mile down the road from Boynton Canyon. We didn’t want to take any chances so we walked there, but this parking lot was a lot less busy and there were ample parking spaces available.  

Fay Canyon offers a side trail to the Natural Arch, other than the hike up to the arch the trail is fairly easy. If you want to shorten the hike and only go to the Natural Arch you still get amazing views of the canyon from here.  

We finished the day by climbing Bell Rock halfway up and then hiking the loop around Courthouse Butte. The Bell Rock Trailhead parking is going to be a challenge. We lucked out with someone leaving as we were getting there. We parked in the north parking lot, from this side you can climb the Bell Rock. We climbed about halfway up, before we came back down. If you are planning to climb the Bell Rock, make sure your hands are free as you will need to use them when climbing. We had our water bottles with us and they were mostly in the way. 

Two Days of Hiking in Sedona
Bell Rock | Amazing Two Days of Hiking in Sedona

After the climb take an easy stroll around Courthouse Butte. This easy hike offers amazing views of Courthouse Butte, Little Horse Rock, Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. 

If you are looking to shorten your miles for the day, you can skip Fay Canyon.  

If you are looking to add more miles and adventure for the day, you can add Bear Mountain hike. Some people claim this hike offers some of the most amazing views of Sedona. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience it this time. 

Day 2 Hike Stats 

Boynton Canyon and Subway Cave 

Distance: 7.44 miles, in and out 
Elevation: 1257 feet 
Trailhead: Boynton Canyon Trailhead 
Facilities: Bathroom and picnic table 

Fay Canyon with Natural Arch 

Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation: 300 feet
Trailhead: Fay Canyon Trailhead
Facilities: Bathrooms

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop 

Distance: 4.52 miles, loop 
Elevation: 744 feet 
Trailhead: Bell Rock North Trailhead
Facilities: Bathrooms 

Where We Stayed in Sedona

We stayed in Adobe Village Inn in the Village of Oak Creek area. It was conveniently located within walking distance of the Bell Rock. There are few good restaurants in the Village and you don’t really need to drive to Sedona other than for the hikes.

We visited in March and accommodations were very hard to find. It is a very popular time of the year to visit and hike.

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