Tips For Hiking In Sedona, Arizona

We learned a few things really fast with our first visit to the Sedona, Arizona area. And even though we only spent three full days hiking the desert trails and exploring the area, I know these tips will come in handy for anyone else visiting the area also. So I thought I would share some with you all today.

#1 WATER: You would think this would be obvious desert hiking but from what we saw, it was not! You will need water and lots of it. We planned two hikes per day and even kept a gallon jug in our SUV to refill our water containers between trailheads. Yes, its warm and not very refreshing to drink warm water, but it’s water and in the desert water is a necessity.

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#2 BOOTS/HIGH SOCKS: We were told to bring boot and higher socks to protect our legs from cactus plants that are sometimes very near the trail edge. This was a great recommendation since both my husband and son rubbed up against a cactus while hiking. These plants are vicious and you don’t want to get to close.

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#3 GPS/TRAIL MAPS: I did alot of research on what trails we wanted to hike during this trip. We, however, ended up adding two extra and changing one up due to rain we received overnight in our area. Which meant we did not have all the proper maps with us. Although, we did have the GPS which meant we were just fine. Most trails are marked very well in the Sedona area but it’s also very easy to get turned around or get on an intersecting trail by mistake. At each and every trailhead we hiked, we marked our vehicle so we knew no matter what we could find it again.

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#4 RED ROCK PASS IS REQUIRED: Some trailheads require a RED ROCK pass to park at the assigned lot. Many…..and I mean many people do not get them and then are upset when they return and find a ticket on the windshield. These passes are cheap, can be purchased by the day, week or year, and are easily located throughout the area at different businesses. We bought ours our first night at the Safeway Grocery Store(located on SR89A), for the week which was $15. They can also be purchased right at the trailhead if you wish.

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#5 TRAILHEAD PARKING LOTS: A few things here….arriving early makes it much easier to find a spot. They fill very quickly, especially on the weekends. Second, some have bathroom facilities and some do not. And the ones that do, don’t always have toilet paper in them….so bring some and leave it in your vehicle just in case. They are all pit toilets with no water at all….so prepare to clean your hands on your own. Lastly, some are located on back forest roads that require a high clearance vehicle. I researched which ones did and did not before deciding where we would start each hike. And when they say a high clearance vehicle is needed here, they mean it……here is one forest road with huge ruts in it.

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#6 PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES: There are signs everywhere to protect your valuables at the trailheads. We had no issues but we also left nothing but water and jackets in our vehicle while hiking.

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#7 READ THE SIGNS: All trails are different…..some allow dogs, some tell you what to do and not do, and some tell you exactly what will happen if you do something stupid. Read them ,follow them, and keep this place beautiful for everyone.

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#8 YOU WILL BE DIRTY: Hiking here for us was a whole different experience that back home. We spent alot more time using our rear ends to get back down many different areas, our boots were covered in red dust by the end of the day, and we had red dust lines where are socks ended. Everyone around us had dirty backsides and the same red dust coating there skin. So prepare to be dirty but have a great time getting this way.

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#9 HAVE A PLAN B: We were (un)fortunate enough to receive rain one evening while we were here and that made us change up our plans for the next day due to where we had planned to hike. Although, everything turned out fabulous and we could not have picked a better alternate hike because it ended up being my favorite of the entire vacation. So even though you have a plan, be flexible.

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#10 SEDONA IS NOT A CHEAP PLACE TO EAT OUT: We were very fortunate to have an awesome hotel with a great balcony facing the mountains that made meal times even more special for us. We did eat out one evening(the evening we arrived) and the bill was over $50 for three sandwiches and two lemonades. (That to me is expensive) So we headed to one of the many grocery stores and picked up breakfast items for four days since we planned to leave earlier in the mornings to hike. And dinner every evening was also bought here and enjoyed on our balcony. It was cheaper, tasty, and I did not have to keep my boots on to eat:-) We met many of the same hikers every evening doing the same thing and all covered in dirt which made us not feel so bad.

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We did not do hardly any shopping in Sedona’s downtown area. We drove through it to get to the Oak Creek scenic drive and it’s was bustling with many people. We did locate two outfitters while here and found one had much more “needed” supplies and one was more a clothing/fashion outfitter. We did visit one park while here, Grasshopper Point, simply because my husband had a wish to jump off a canyon wall into the water. Which he fulfilled.

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Other than that we hiked everyday. We enjoyed our hotel pool and all the warm sunshine.

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We enjoyed our first ever acai bowls(We all ordered the Summit Bowl) as a treat one evening.(Again, I thought super costly, 3 smalls were $30)(Although, the smalls were HUGE)

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If you plan to visit this area and have specific questions for me, feel free to comment and I will answer them if I can.

(***Keep in mind that we were here strictly to hike, it was the end of October and temps never got above 87 degrees)

*** To see the hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

 

 

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Devil’s Bridge Trail- Sedona, Arizona

This trail was my husbands pick while on vacation in Sedona, Arizona and well worth the 4.0 miles it took to reach this stone bridge.

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On this hike, we decided to begin at the Mescal trailhead(Route #2) since we did not want to venture down the road to the actual Devil’s Bridge trailhead.

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We were warned that a high clearance vehicle would be needed to make it to this trail head and we did not want to risk anything breaking on our rented SUV so we choose to hike a bit further and start where we started.

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This hike took us through some gorgeous desert terrain .

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You will eventually reach the actual Devil’s Bridge parking area and cross through this to head down the trail. This is the trailhead you can park at if you have the proper type of vehicle. Both there and back there were never more than two vehicles at this particular parking area. And by looking at the road, you can clearly see why.

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I would estimate about the last mile or so the trail gets a bit rocky and then the last 1/4 mile you will find yourself once again rock scrambling some good sized rocks to reach the bridge itself.

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This was a busy trail. We did this mid afternoon and it had a good amount of people at the bridge when we arrived. However, everyone seemed respectful of each other and formed a nice line to walk out to the center of the bridge so everyone could capture a picture without others in the shot. Here is my husband in line for his picture.

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There is plenty of room to rest at the bridge area. And again, you are desert hiking, so bring plenty of water. After taking a moment to have a snack and rest, we had our son capture our picture together and then headed back the same way we came.

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This is also the trail we located the one and only geocache while on this vacation. It’s always a goal to search and find one in every state we visit. This area however, has some pretty fierce cactus plants that offer a bit of a challenge finding geocaches. So some extra caution is needed.

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I am not sure how long this hike took us in total. My guess would be about 3-3.5 hours with 45 minutes or so spent at the bridge itself. It was a very nice hike. Mostly flat terrain until the end to reach the top of the bridge. Many resources rated this hike as moderate and I would agree.

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*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

 

Cathedral Rock Trail- Sedona, Arizona

This was the first hike on our agenda during our first visit to the Sedona, Arizona area. I had been in contact with someone from this area a few times by email and she simply stated, “it’s a right of passage” to the area and you must give this trail a try. Say no more, I told my husband and son this would be our first hike of the visit and they were all in.

We researched this trail in detail before leaving and found that it was short, 1.5 miles round trip to be exact. It was also rated as HARD in many resources that we read. And after watching two videos taken while climbing this rock from fellow hikers, I knew it would be a challenge but I had my heart set on making it to the top of this rock.

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We arrived in the early morning just as the sun was rising over the mountains. We were told parking was an issue at this particular trailhead and when we returned to the vehicle, the lot was full.

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Note: you will need a red rock pass to park at this trailhead.

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As we prepared to conquer this hike, my boys both stood in awe at this magnificent sight.

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So with camera in hand, bladders emptied, and our packs loaded and ready we headed up this rock.

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We knew exactly where the technical part of this hike would be when we reached it. There is a crevice that needs to be scrambled up and eventually down during this short hike that had my stomach in knots.

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When we reached this crevice, we stopped, packed up our cameras to have both hands free, and I secretly said a prayer. It’s one thing to do these types of hikes on my own, it’s a whole other thing to know my husband and son are right behind me and can fall at any moment. However, it’s the life we live and we love it so we continued after a quick family picture.

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Eventually we reached the top and it was worth every grey hair I gained making it through this crevice. It was amazing. I was so relieved, we made it, worked together as a family, and succeeded.

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We spent about a half hour on the top, taking pictures, resting and just enjoying the view. I can see why I was told it was a right of passage to accomplish this hike. The feeling we felt when reaching the top was indescribable.

However, the thought of going back down is what really had me stressed. Although, I am happy to say, it was much easier than I had imagined to make our way back down the same way we came up. The only difference was we were on our rears instead of our knees. Here is a bit of what down looked like.

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It took us a total of about 2.5 hrs. to complete this hike with about a half hour of this on the top. People we ran into were respectful of sharing the crevice and not rushing anyone on the way up or down. This may seem like a short hike in distance but you will still need plenty of water and when the sun rises above the mountain the temperature rises quickly.

In my opinion hard was an accurate rating but completely worth it!

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