January 21, 2021 Photography Travel Guides

The Best Sedona, Arizona Hikes for Photos

Instagrammable Places in Sedona? It's all in the red rock nature and hiking trails. Sedona is one of the most gorgeous outdoor destinations in the Southwest, with so many amazing locations for incredible photos. These are the best of the best - with coordinates.

1. Soldier's Pass Trail

Soldier's Pass Hike has a bit of everything - Secret Pools (however in dry season these pools can be more of "pool beds" - they were completely dry for us), a massive sinkhole, arches, caves, and endless views! The trail is 4.5 miles round trip (out and back) and I would rank this as easy to medium - no climbing experience needed or real steep cliffs. The walk up to the caves from the main trail is a good incline that gets your heart pumping if you keep your speed up, but isn't challenging.

The most challenging part of Soldier's Pass is actually the parking! The actual trail parking lot only has a handful of spaces and fills up very quickly (we were reading stories of people waiting over an hour in their cars to try to park.) Instead, you should park at the Jordan Road Trailhead, which has ample parking and adds less than a mile of very easy walking time - and also has incredible views of it's own. Thank me later!

The turn off from the main path to the caves can be challenging to find - we were pretty lost as to where to turn after reading conflicting information. Here are the exact coordinates on Google Maps to make this easier - the extra steps are incredibly worth it.


2. Fay Canyon Trail

The main feature of the actual Fay Canyon Trail is a side path up to another one of Sedona's incredible red rock arches, along a short and lovely nature walk along the canyon floor, with a 2.6 mile round trip total.

However, once you reach the end of the path and the prominently displayed "end of trail" sign, cross the riverbed and climb up the rocks directly in front of you for the most amazing views back into the valley! This is truly the highlight of the trail and I'm not entirely sure why the End of Trail would be before the best part. The climb up is short, a little steep, and medium difficulty - nothing serious to worry about. 

The turn to the arch trail is not marked and is very hard to find without guidance, however I followed along my GPS with The AllTrails Map, and it led us right there!

How good are these views from 'beyond' the trail!

3. End of the World Trail

I don't know if this place has an official name, I have only vaguely seen it labeled as "end of the world" And honestly, photos do not even do this amazing sight justice. When we finally pulled up and saw the forest drop into this clearing, Brandon and I both gasped. Being here is kind of like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time - but if no one else had discovered it and you were in the middle of untouched nature. The views are INCREDIBLE and the rising mountains and natural rock formations of Sedona from the other side are nothing short of jaw dropping.

To start, this is not a hiking trail as much as it is a very long drive through unpaved roads in the Coconino National Forest, and then a short, steep, slip-sliding dirt walk to the viewpoints. And this is quite a trek - a full two hours from Sedona, unless you have a serious off-roading vehicle that speed through the dirt and rocky "roads" faster than our 15 MPH.

Climbing to the top of of the rock tower is possible:

Photo: Karl Shakur

But it  is definitely not recommended unless you have serious climbing skills or proper rock-climbing equipment. There is a rope attached to the top of the tower, but Brandon and I chose not to attempt it ourselves, and just obsessed from the closer rocks. 

For the location and full details on how to get there, read my blog here: How To Get to Sedona's Secret End of The World Trail.

We stayed through the entire sunset and drove the whole way back in the pitch black dark... and it was a little horror movie style terrifying, but so incredibly worth it.

4. Devil's Bridge

Possibly Sedona's most well-known trail! Devil's Bridge is a fun, not-too-hard 4 mile trek to one of the area's biggest natural arches - placed in a way there you can easily get a great shot walking over the top of it (while most other arches in the area you can only stand at the bottom of.)  

Besides the main attraction at the end of the trail, there are some beautiful red rocks on the way up as well, take a look around! We were here around midday and I didn't love the lighting we got - I would definitely recommend taking this one closer to sunset or even early dawn - I've seen a couple of gorgeous photos at sunrise!

5. Cathedral Rock Trail

Cathedral Rock Trail is short, beautiful, and very popular (only around 1.5 miles round trip)

HOWEVER - The distance and popularity totally threw me off - the trek up here was much steeper, rock climbi-er, slick, and difficult than I expected. The popularity and short distance threw me off and I was very surprised with the difficulty here - I would say of all the trails here, this one was actually the most difficult.

I snapped this photo on the way up because I was just so surprised. This is steep!

 With that said, this is isn't an expert-only trail and IS very popular. We found the way down to actually be easier than the way up, I just wanted to mention this here since none of my pre-hike reading mentioned the difficulty here.

Sunset is the most popular time to shoot here and the views are incredible - we saw multiple engagement/portrait shoots happening while we were here. The top is very windy and cold in the colder months so make sure to bring an extra layer!

6. Airport Mesa Loop Trail

The Airport Mesa Loop is a bit of a 'make it what you want" trail. There is a 3 mile loop trail around the Sedona Airport if you want to explore and hike more. However, this trail gets a special mention because some of the best views are right at the top of a small staircase, and is a great place if you're looking to get some photos NOT in hiking attire. From the parking lot, the rocks up here are a 5 minute or less walk - easy and very doable for your most extra of outfits!

The parking here is also limited, but both times we've been people tend to move in and out quickly so it's easy to wait just a few minutes for a space, or there is a visitor's lot up at the airport where you can park for the day for $3. 

Where to Stay?

We stayed at the beautiful Amara Resort and Spa, right on Sedona's main downtown strip and highly recommend the hotel! The heated pool was warm enough to swim even in the middle of winter, and soaking in the hot tub with a glass of wine or a spicy margarita after long hiking days is impossible to beat. Check the best prices here!