Sedona is full of stunning, red rock vistas that can be easily accessed via short hikes. As a solo female traveler, I was able to do these easy Sedona hikes with great views all while recovering from an injury.
These hikes are mostly well-known, but a couple are more hidden gems recommended to me by my local host.
How to Get Around in Sedona
You’ll have to rent a car to get around, as Sedona is pretty spread out and the trailheads are in different directions. There is a free Sedona Shuttle bringing you to some trailheads from Thursdays through Sundays, but the park & ride lots are also spread out.
Make sure to buy the Red Rock Pass for parking, as many popular trailheads require it, including several on this list. If you have the America the Beautiful Pass for national parks, that also works for parking (this would be worth it if you’re planning to go to a few other national parks in the year).
Short + Easy Hikes in Sedona
These Sedona hikes are all under 4 miles and take less than 2 hours to complete. The shortest one is only half a mile and takes 15 minutes!
Of course, “easy” and “short” is relative, but these are all hikes that won’t be too strenuous for someone who is moderately active. In fact, I did many of these hikes when I was recovering from a bone stress injury from running, so you can rest assured that these aren’t too hard on the legs.
For more details, I’ve linked the AllTrails pages in each hike’s description.
1. Airport Loop Trail
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation gain: 430 feet
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Airport Loop Trail has a stunning panoramic view right at the trailhead. In fact, you could honestly skip the hike or only do part of it if you’re only here for the views.
The most interesting part of the hike is the first mile or so from the Airport Mesa trailhead going towards the Cathedral Rock side. The other side of the loop is still pleasant, but it pales in comparison to the red rock vistas near the trailhead.
Make sure to walk up to the Airport Mesa vortex, which is to the left of the trailhead and up some rock stairs (you’ll see the “to summit” sign). Vortices, areas where energy is said to be entering or leaving the earth, are a signature part of the Sedona experience. Whether you believe in their healing properties or not, they are worth visiting for the views!
Note that parking can be tricky at the Airport Mesa trailhead, but people are often coming or going, so someone may pull out if you wait a few minutes. I was able to find parking relatively easily at 3pm on a weekday afternoon in February, and it was perfect timing to do the hike and then be there for the golden hour.
You can also park at the Sedona Airport itself for $3, and it’s around a 15-minute walk to Airport Mesa.
2. Seven Sacred Pools via Soldier’s Pass Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles
Elevation gain: 110 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Seven Sacred Pools is one of the easiest hikes with the best payoff. The naturally-carved blue pools against the red rock peaks make for a beautiful sight. It’s the kind of otherworldly landscape that you’d see on a computer screensaver.
The pools got their name because they’re sacred to the Apache and Yavapai indigenous people. There are actually seven pools, though you’re not able to see all of them at once since they’re on different levels of the rock bed (and the seventh one is also pretty small).
Along the way, you’ll also encounter Devil’s Kitchen, a large sinkhole. You can walk around it, but be careful since there are no railings.
While there is parking at the trailhead, it’s closed Thursday through Sunday and the free Sedona Shuttle runs instead from the park & ride lot. This is to ensure that everyone who wants to hike is able to.
I would recommend going to the trail either early in the morning or around the golden hour, as I went in the afternoon and the backlighting from the sun behind the red rocks made it harder to take good photos. The pools can also be dry in the summer months, so try to go in a cooler season, or after a recent rainfall.
3. Hog Wash and Hog Heaven Loop
Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation gain: 470 feet
Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Hog Wash and Hog Heaven Loop is a more moderate hike, but it was one of my favorites because of the many vistas. It was actually recommended to me by my Airbnb host, and it’s not as well known, so you may even have the trail basically to yourself.
For the first section of the trail, you probably will encounter some jeep tours, but then it quickly gets quiet and kind of lonely if you’re by yourself. There may be mountain bikers since this is also a mountain biking route, but I didn’t see any on a weekday afternoon in February. (By the way, don’t be intimidated if you see double black diamond signs, as they’re for the bikers).
As you descend back to the trailhead, there are some sections that appear to be very steep, but there are paths that allow you to loop around a bit to save your legs. You just might need to stop and look around for a second.
I had no problem finding a place to park at the Broken Arrow trailhead.
4. Bell Rock
Distance: .8 miles
Elevation gain: 200 feet
Time: 30 minutes
Bell Rock itself is more of a climb than a hike, but you can get to the base of it fairly easily by following the rock cairns/baskets. After there are no more baskets, the path is trickier and I won’t recommend it if you’re afraid of heights.
There is a loop around the base of Bell Rock as well (Bell Rock Loop Trail) that has good views (especially of the Courthouse Butte in the photo on the right) and is less steep. I would still recommend climbing a bit up Bell Rock for the views, but you don’t have to go to the peak.
Parking can be tricky here as well, but I was able to find a spot after someone pulled out.
5. Cathedral Rock
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation gain: 740 feet
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cathedral Rock is one of the most iconic Sedona hikes, though it is more of a scramble in some places. This was top on my list, I didn’t get a chance to go because the trail was closed at the time.
The trailhead parking is closed from Thursday to Sunday as well, and the free Sedona Shuttle runs instead from the park & ride lot.
6. Birthing Cave
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation gain: 240 feet
Time: 1 hour
Birthing Cave is a unique sight, as the edges of the cave frame the outside landscapes perfectly. While the shape of the cave looks a lot like a vulva, the name actually originated from the indigenous Hopi women who came to the cave to give birth.
The trail to the cave is unfortunately unmarked, and I ended up going in the wrong direction for half a mile before realizing. You’ll make it to a wood post that says “trail” that points right when you should actually go left.
The hike is pretty flat until the end, where you’ll need to do a little scrambling to make it to the cave. Once in the cave, there’s a small, carved-out spot that has the best views, but you’ll need to climb to it (and the walls are smooth and steep). It looked too scary to me, so I didn’t go up, but that’s the spot where many people take the iconic photos of the cave.
Parking wasn’t that hard to find as there were several spots along Long Canyon Road.
7. Devil’s bridge
Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation gain: 520 feet
Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in Sedona, and it’s almost certainly graced your Instagram feed. The hike is fairly easy until the steep climb at the end.
The trail is extremely crowded, so you should try to go as early as possible to get parking and avoid long lines at Devil’s Bridge. Parking is limited at the Dry Creek Vista Trailhead, but there is the free Sedona Shuttle that runs from Thursday to Sunday when the trailhead is closed.
8. Yavapai Vista Trail
Distance: .5 miles
Elevation gain: 80 feet
Time: 15 minutes
Yavapai Vista Trail is a quick, family-friendly walk with a panoramic view at the top (without much of a climb). Some of the rocks can be slippery though, so make sure to wear good hiking shoes anyways.
The hike is said to be especially nice during sunset, showcasing a wide range of warm colors against the red rocks.
My host recommended this hike to me, but I didn’t get out to it since it was a bit further of a drive from Sedona (30 minutes). It’s on my list for next time!
Hiking Gear to Bring to Sedona
While these Sedona hikes are on the easier side, you still want to have the right gear so you have a smooth experience on the trails.
Here’s what I’d recommend:
- Hiking boots—Some trails can be rocky and require some scrambling, so you want good grip.
- Dark socks—The dirt on the trails is a beautiful orange-red, but it’s not so pretty if it’s staining your white socks. I’ve washed my socks many times since I’ve come back from Sedona, but half a year later, they’re still stained red. Make sure to bring darker socks to avoid this!
- Hiking poles—While you don’t need poles since Sedona hikes don’t have that much elevation gain, poles can still be helpful on steeper climbs or descents. I linked the foldable hiking poles I use that are super light and convenient (do not put them in your carry on though!)
If you come in the winter, also bring warm clothes as temperatures can get down to the 30s or 40s:
- Light jacket—A thin, insulated jacket was good to have for walking around town and just in case I got colder after sunset or on a super easy hike.
- Fleece jacket—A fleece jacket was just enough warmth in February for most of my hikes.
- Moisture-wicking base layer—This will keep you warm and dry.
Where to Stay in Sedona
Sedona is a unique city, and its accommodations match this artsy, outdoorsy, and spiritual vibe. I stayed in an Airbnb room with a kind host that had 5 cats! I had a great time, but I recognize that it’s not for everyone.
Here are some other apartment stays that you may enjoy that offer you more independence:
- Studio close to the Airport Mesa—you get your own patio as well as a resort pass.
- Apartment with a pool—you’re close to the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village and also get great views from the place.
And here are some top hotels:
- Casa Sedona Inn—each room has a private balcony or patio, and there are hikes within walking distance via the Thunder Mountain trail system, as well as several shops and resaturants.
- Arabella Hotel Sedona—this pet-friendly hotel has a panoramic vista on the property, pools and hot tubs, and direct trail access. You’ll also be a hop aware from the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping village.
Let us know what you think in the comments if you do any of these hikes, or if you find any you think I should add to this list!