Hiking has been our passion for years and is part of the reason we moved to Sedona in the first place. After visiting and living in Sedona for more than 10 years, we just now feel like we’ve hiked the majority of our trails, and we hike a lot. It’s not surprising that it’s taken us so long: The Red Rock Ranger District encompasses 550,000 acres (the bulk of the red rocks are located on 160,000 acres of the district) and more than 300 miles of trails. A group of local hiking enthusiasts (you’ll meet two of them in this article) have even started referring to Sedona as the “day hike capital of the U.S.,” and it’s hard to argue with their claim. Not only does Sedona boast hundreds of miles of trails in a relatively small area, we also have a climate that allows us to recreate outdoors nearly 365 days of the year. Our annual average high temperature is 75 degrees and the average low is 46 degrees. You can’t beat that.
Read on for what you need to know about day hiking in Sedona. After featuring a hike every month since our inception in 2003, we give you Sedona Monthly’s top 10 favorite hikes. Representatives of the Coconino National Forest recommend their top 10 less-traveled trails, and talk to us about land stewardship and local flora and fauna. You’ll also meet members of the Verde Valley Search and Rescue Posse – they tell hikers how to stay safe on the trail. Finally, if you’re new to hiking in Red Rock Country, we’ll introduce you to local resources such as the Sedona Trail Finder.
Spring is here – grab your boots and hit the trail.
The Red Rock Ranger District’s Top 10 Unique and Less-Traveled Hikes
Let’s face it: If you’re serious about hiking, it’s much more enjoyable to take the road less traveled. After all, most of us hike to get away from the noise of the everyday, don’t we? Connie Birkland, public affairs specialist with the Coconino National Forest’s Red Rock Ranger District, says there are benefits to hiking lesser-known trails.
“When you head out to places like Cathedral Rock and Boynton Canyon, you might not find parking,” she says. “We’re also concerned about the overuse of some of these trails. They have sensitive archaeological sites, the areas are sensitive to Native American cultures and the popular trails are crowded. If you’re a serious hiker, you want to avoid the crowds so you can enjoy nature.”
Connie and Nina Hubbard, the ranger district’s visitor services supervisor, came up with a list of the forest service’s top 10 less-traveled hikes in Red Rock Country. Nina, an avid hiker, says these aren’t the easiest hikes in the ranger district’s network of trails, but they are some of the trails she enjoys the most because the routes are “on the fringe and away from the crowds.” (Mileage is one way.)
Brins Mesa, Soldier Pass and Jordan Trails – Loop these trails together for great views and the chance to explore some arches; easy access and excellent parking; approximately 7-mile loop – moderate.
Long Canyon Trail – A nice red rock canyon experience; good for backpacking; 3 miles – easy.
Munds Wagon and Schnebly Hill Trails – Historic trails with views all across Sedona; great for those who don’t have a car suitable for driving Schnebly Hill Road; 6.5 miles – strenuous.