Headed to Sedona soon?! If so, I’m sure you know hiking is one of the best things to do here. You also probably know how crowded some of the hikes can be. Keep reading to discover some of the best less crowded hikes in Sedona, Arizona.
Is it just me or did Sedona explode in popularity the past few years?! It has always been an amazing destination, to be sure, but maybe Instagram caused it to be much more ~hip~?? I truthfully hadn’t heard of Sedona until a couple years ago, but now I think most of my friends have visited or want to visit! It’s super trendy right now which means tons of crowds. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go! You just need to be a little more creative when planning your trip.
One of the best things to do in Sedona is hike. You are in the beautiful mountains of Arizona, made of rich red rock in a unique desert landscape. There is so much spiritual energy and many of the hikes are known to be “vortexes,” where you can experience this spiritual energy amplified. There are hikes for everyone from novice hikers to advanced rock climbers. The crowds can be a deterrent though…. waiting in lines to take pictures of the view?! No, thank you. If you are looking to get away from the most popular hikes but still have an epic Sedona experience, look no further. Below are four of the best hikes in Sedona that are a bit less crowded. But hurry! I have a feeling they won’t be less crowded for long.
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This is a wonderful easy hike to do if you have a busy day planned before/after or just want a shorter adventure! Birthing cave leads out to a beautiful rock formation of… you guessed it: a birth canal. This cave is known as a sacred site that women have come to for years and years for healthy pregnancies, infertility, and more. It’s very special to hike here and then sit in the quiet honoring this sacred space. The trail head begins at Deadman’s Pass Trail . Keep to the left at the first fork, then left again at the next fork following the trail along the barbed wire fence line. The trail at the second fork becomes unmarked but the trail is pretty trafficked so you should be able to find it!
2 miles out and back / easy / dog friendly
The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek
The Crack was our FAVORITE hike in alllll of Arizona! This trail is a 3.5 mile hike to a creek that forms an amazing swimming hole. There are several jumping off points (one about 15 feet high!) and a little beach area if jumping off tall rocks isn’t your thing. It is a bit of a longer hike in very little shade, so I think that drives some of the crowds away. However, it’s still a popular hike so I do recommend going first thing in the morning. Especially because if you plan to go swimming, you’ll want to go in the summer and that means it’ll heat up FAST. The hike is not very technical, but a little rocky and along a narrow path against a ridge at one point–just something to be mindful of! Start at the Bell Trailhead (about 30 minutes outside of Sedona).
7 miles out and back / moderate / dog friendly
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to this trail but it came highly recommended! It is a long hike in a box canyon among the red rocks. You’ll pass beautiful trees, steep canyon walls, and caves (which most people note is their favorite part)! The trail is often shady and relatively flat which is great for hikers of all levels. The hike is over 7 miles though, so take plenty of water. It’s also known as a potential vortex site, so you may feel strong spiritual energy here. There is a very large resort right near the trailhead Perhaps a bonus or a hindrance depending on how you look at it (spa treatments after a hike, anyone?!)
7.1 miles out and back / moderate / dog friendly
If you’re looking for a hike rated as hard, look no further. Bear Mountain is a bit farther out from Sedona so it will get you away from the crowds! It’s steep but the views are well worth it. The trail is mostly unshaded and gains about 1,800 feet in elevation over 2.3 miles. Phewf. Make sure you’re well prepared, especially in the summer.
4.6 miles out and back / strenuous / may not be suitable for dogs
Amazing (but crowded) hikes in Sedona
I can’t talk about hiking in Sedona without mentioning some very famous hikes. However, be warned that you will deal with major crowds at any of these areas.
Devil’s Bridge: famous for the “bridge” the red rocks forms, the line to take a picture on the actual bridge can sometimes top 2-3 hours!
3.9 miles out and back / moderate / dog friendly
Cathedral Rock: We LOVED this hike, actually. We went at sunset and had absolutely epic views. It wasn’t as crowded as we expected so it was well worth it. It’s short but gets steep and a litttttle sketchy towards the top.
1.5 miles out and back / moderate / dogs are welcome but its not suitable for dogs (speaking from experience!)
Airport Mesa Loop: Forming a loop, this hike will take you to some beautiful views of the mountains and the city of Sedona below you. Best at sunrise!
3.3 miles loop / moderate / dog friendly
When you are preparing for your hikes around Sedona, pack your debit card or cash to pay for a Red Rocks pass! It’s $10 for 7 days (as of July 2021) and you can either get it online ahead of time or purchase at the parking lot. Unfortunately, national park passes aren’t accepted at any of the major hikes so you’ll have to purchase this separate pass. But I promise it’s worth it!
I hope you enjoyed this round up of less crowded hikes to check out in Sedona. Have you tried any? Do you have any other secret gems to share in Sedona, Arizona?