Getaway Compass

Sedona Off the Beaten Path: Sedona Hidden Gems

Top of Mount Wilson

Sedona is a town surrounded by red rocks that offers incredible hikes, but its beauty and social media popularity has attracted crowds. Some hikes can get so crowded you have to wait in a line to take a picture like at Devil’s Bridge. After living in Sedona for a couple of months I have had the opportunity to explore Sedona more and find the lesser known, but still beautiful hikes. Venturing off the beaten path in Sedona will allow you to enjoy the beauty and magic of the Sedona red rocks without the crowds. Below are the top Sedona off the beaten path hikes I recommend, split by difficulty. Visiting these Sedona hidden gems will make for an amazing adventure surrounded by red rocks.

What to Pack to Explore Sedona Off the Beaten Path

  • Hiking Shoes: Hiking shoes are always preferred in Sedona due to the rocky terrain. Hiking shoes help with traction so you are less likely to slip and fall, and if you have boots that will be even better to help with ankle support.
  • Camera: Don’t forget your camera so you can capture all your memories from these incredible off the beaten path hikes in Sedona.
  • Daypack: Bring a comfortable backpack to carry your water, snacks, and other necessities for the hike. This Osprey bag is a great option and even has a spot for a hydration bladder. 
  • Water: Bring plenty of water, especially if you are hiking during the summer. The combination of the sun, heat, and lack of humidity can dehydrate you quickly. This water bottle is a great option to keep you water cold, but make sure you have additional water in your bag you can refill this with.
  • Snacks: Bring high protein snacks like Clif Bars for your hike.
  • Hat: A hat can make a huge difference and keep you a lot cooler while blocking the sun from your face. This makes hiking in 95 degrees and sunny weather not as bad.
  • Sunscreen: Sometimes when you aren’t at the beach or pool you don’t even think about putting sunscreen on. However, the sun is STRONG in Sedona, especially in the summer. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on and bring extra with you. This sunscreen is a great option as it is small enough to carry with you during the day.
  • Sunglasses: Make sure you can see all the breathtaking views in Sedona. The sun can be very strong so you should protect your eyes while also being able to see the great views.

Moderate Hikes in Sedona Without Crowds

The Ridge

The Ridge Trail
View from The Ridge Trail
The Ridge Trail in Sedona View
View of Thunder Mountain from the Ridge Trail

The Ridge starts from Old Post Trailhead and the beginning is mainly flat. Look out for animals and birds on this part of the trail, we got to see a Jackrabbit. After about a mile you will experience  some elevation gain, taking you up above the mesa. Here you will see amazing views of Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Pyramid Mountain. The trail then descends down to a road where it ends, and you can turn back around and go back up. On the way back look for Sketch Trail which will be on your left, and take that back for a change of scenery. Sketch trail will connect back to The Ridge later on, and it will allow you to see different views of the red rock behind you and Thunder Mountain, Chimney Rock, and Coffee Pot Rock ahead of you. The Ridge trail is one of the best kept secrets of Sedona, offering great views and a moderate hike away from the crowds.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 580 Feet
Parking: There are only a few parking spots designated for the trail located inside the commercial parking lot on the corner of Stanley Steamer Dr and Shelby Dr. We hiked this on a Friday late afternoon and 2 of the spots were open. If all the trail parking spots are full, you could park at the Sunset Park parking lot and walk. 

Mescal Mountain Trail

Mescal Mountain Off the Beaten Path
Mescal Mountain Off the Beaten Path Sedona
Mescal Mountain Trail
View of Doe Mountain from Mescal Mountain
View From Mescal Mountain

Mescal Mountain is one of the best off the beaten path hikes in Sedona that has great views without the length or difficulty. This hike starts from Boynton Canyon Trailhead where you will hike on Boynton Canyon Trail for a few minutes until you see Deadman’s Pass on your right. From Deadman’s Pass you will take a right onto Mescal Trail, which will take you on a nice hike on the south side of Mescal Mountain with nice views of Doe Mountain and Bear Mountain. As you continue around Mescal Mountain you will start to see Thunder Mountain and more rocks east of Mescal Mountain.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Parking: This trail starts from Boynton Canyon Trailhead. The parking lot requires a red rock pass, which you can purchase at the kiosk next to the trailhead for $5 for the day or $15 for the week. There is also an option for a Red Rock Annual Pass for $20 but you would need to purchase that at a visitor center. If you have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass you can display that on your dashboard instead of purchasing a red rock pass. 

Schuerman Mountain Trail

Schuerman Mountain Viewpoint
Schuerman Mountain Trail Sedona off the Beaten Path
Schuerman Mountain Trail Sedona
Schuerman Mountain Trail View
Schuerman Mountain Trail View West

Schuerman Mountain Trail is a great off the beaten path Sedona hike where you can enjoy the beauty of Sedona red rocks. This trail starts from Schuerman Mountain Trailhead and begins with a half mile climb up with views of the red rocks along most of the way. Once you get to an intersection point go to the left to continue 0.3 miles to the vista. This viewpoint is a Sedona hidden gem from which you can see Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and other red rocks to the south. On the hike back from the vista you will see views of Thunder Mountain and Coffee Pot Rock across the way. Make your way back down from the vista and you will see a trail to your left at the intersection point. Turn left and continue down the trail surrounded by dried grass. Continue hiking about 1.5 miles until you see a narrow path to your left. This short path will take you to the side of the mountain so you can see the valley below and another nice red rock view. From here you can continue hiking further down Schuerman Mountain Trail or turn back. If you decide to turn back here it will be about 2 miles back to the trailhead.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 580 feet
Parking: There is a small dirt parking lot next to the Schuerman Mountain Trailhead which you can find right beside Sedona Red Rock High School.

Planning a weekend trip to Sedona? Take a look at our Sedona Weekend Itinerary
For more hike recommendations, continue reading our Best Hikes in Sedona article and Top Shaded Hikes in Sedona for those hotter summer days.

Hard Hikes: Sedona Off the Beaten Path

Cathedral Rock Loop: Hiline, Templeton, Slim Shady

Hiline Trail Loop Sedona Off the Beaten Path
Hiline Trail Sedona Off the Beaten Path
Hiline, Templeton, Slim Shady loop
View from Hiline, Templeton, Slim Shady loop

This loop is one of the most unique hikes in Sedona featuring amazing 360 degree views of Sedona and Oak Creek. A majority of the hike is off the beaten path, especially Hiline and Slim Shady sections, but a loop is worth it to see more variety. You will most likely run into some people when you get to the intersection with the Cathedral Rock Hike and Oak Creek on Templeton Trail, but other than that you will have the hike mostly to yourself. 

I recommend hiking this loop counter clockwise as it is usually the opposite direction the mountain bikers go. The trail starts from Yavupai Point where you will hike on Kaibab Trail for a few minutes and then turn right on Slim Shady. Continue to follow Slim Shady downhill for about 1 mile where you will see views of the mountains across the way. Next take a left onto Templeton Trail where most of the trail is on the side of Cathedral Rock. You will reach Oak Creek about 3 miles into the hike, which is a nice break from the sun for about 0.5 as you walk in the shade beside the creek. Then you will get to another intersection where you will take a left on Baldwin Trail and follow this for about half a mile until you get to Hiline Trail. This beginning part of Hiline Trail is very steep,  but you will be rewarded with incredible views of Sedona where you can see Cathedral Rock, Thunder Mountain, and more of the surrounding red rocks and valley. Hiline Trail is about 3 miles to Slim Shady where you will turn left, then right onto Yavupai Vista Trail to connect to Kaibab Trail back to the trailhead. This part of the hike can be confusing as there are multiple small trails, but there are maps posted throughout so you can check them if you get lost.

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Parking: There is a parking lot at Yavupai Point where the hike starts. This parking lot requires a red rock pass, which you can purchase at the kiosk next to the trailhead for $5 for the day or $15 for the week. There is also an option for a Red Rock Annual Pass for $20 but you would need to purchase that at a visitor center. If you have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass you can display that on your dashboard instead of purchasing a red rock pass.

Munds Wagon, Cow Pies and Hangover Loop

Hangover Loop
Hangover Trail Sedona Off the Beaten Path
Hangover Trail Viewpoint

This trail is a hidden Sedona gem with incredible views. If you are looking to explore Sedona off the beaten path and want a challenging hike, this is a great choice. I recommend hiking this trail counter clockwise: Start at Munds Wagon Trailhead and connect to Cow Pies and then Hangover. The hike begins near a road so you will hear jeeps and trucks going by. This part of the trail isn’t ideal due to the loud noise of the jeeps. After you get through this beginning part you will be rewarded with a nice viewpoint. From this part the hike only gets better, taking you along the side of a Sedona red rock with incredible views of the canyons below and Wilson Mountain. This part of the trail is very narrow, so you have to be very careful and pay attention. Your initial descend back down will be very steep, so make sure to wear hiking boots for traction and ankle support. You will be going down the side of the rock where there isn’t really a trail, but you can follow the white painted arrows. Do not attempt this trail if you have a fear of heights!

Difficulty:
 Hard
Length: 8.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,180 feet
Parking: There is a large parking lot at Munds Wagon Trailhead where the hike starts. This parking lot requires a red rock pass, which you can purchase at the kiosk next to the trailhead for $5 for the day or $15 for the week. There is also an option for a Red Rock Annual Pass for $20 but you would need to purchase that at a visitor center. If you have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass you can display that instead of purchasing a red rock pass.

Munds Wagon to Hangover Out and Back

Hangover Trail Storm Sunset

If you want to hike the best part of Hangover but aren’t feeling an 8 mile hike, you can do Munds Wagon to Hangover out and back which will be about 6 miles, depending on how far up Hangover you decide to go. The hike begins at Munds Wagon Trailhead and the beginning of the trail is near a road so you will hear loud jeeps and trucks going by. You only have to deal with the road noise for about 1.7 miles into the hike, at which point you will get to an intersection where you will take a left to continue onto Hangover trail. You will have steady incline in the beginning of this section, until you get up to the side of the rock. This is the scariest part of the hike where you have to climb up a very steep part of the rock, so you have to be very careful and pay attention. I highly recommend wearing hiking boots for traction and ankle support, especially for this section of the trail. Once you get up the scary part you will reach a flatter part of Hangover trail where you will be hiking along a very narrow trail with views of the canyon below. Continue on this part as long as you will like and turn around when you are ready to. Do not attempt this trail if you have a fear of heights! 

Difficulty:
 Hard
Length: 6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 920 feet
Parking: There is a large parking lot at Munds Wagon Trailhead where the hike starts. This parking lot requires a red rock pass, which you can purchase at the kiosk next to the trailhead for $5 for the day or $15 for the week. There is also an option for a Red Rock Annual Pass for $20 but you would need to purchase that at a visitor center. If you have an America the Beautiful Annual Pass you can display that instead of purchasing a red rock pass.

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain View

Bear Mountain is one of the hardest hikes in Sedona but the views make it worth the climb. Because it is hard it isn’t as crowded as a lot of the other hikes. Bear Mountain is one of the best strenuous hikes in Sedona. This hike takes you up Bear Mountain and you traverse across many layers of sediment. There are parts of the hike where there are large rocks so you might need to use your hands to get up the rock. There are 3 false peaks where you think you are almost done, but then there is more. These peaks all offer great views and are worth enjoying and taking a break with the view. The very end of the hike is the most steep part. It can get cold and windy at the top so I recommend bringing a light jacket. I don’t recommend hiking this trail without hiking boots as the traction and ankle support is needed.

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Estimated Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes round trip with stopping for pictures and water breaks. About 2 hours 15 minutes to hike up.
Parking: There is a parking lot across from Bear Mountain at Doe Mountain Trailhead. Here you will need a $5 Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Annual Pass. You can also park along the street next to the parking lot for free.

Wilson Mountain Trail

Mount Wilson Trail Away from the Crowds
View of Mount Humphrey from Wilson Mountain
Mount Wilson View
Top of Mount Wilson

Hiking up Wilson Mountain is difficult but it is worth it for breathtaking views of Sedona. Since it is very difficult, it is usually quiet and you won’t see many people. The first portion of the trail is very rocky, so I highly recommend wearing hiking boots for the thick sole and ankle support. There are great views almost the entire hike, but the better views start about 2.2 miles into the hike when the trail opens up and there are less trees. This part of the trail can be scary as you are walking along a very narrow trail that can be slippery if you don’t have the right footwear. 

At 3.2 miles in you will reach first bench. If you are tired at this point you could turn around, but I recommend taking a break, eating some snacks, and continuing since the views at the top are even better. When you get to first bench it is flat for a little and then the incline continues, with a narrow trail in a dense forestry area. Once you get to the top you will walk about 1 mile through a less dense forest and reach a point on the side of the mountain where you can enjoy breathtaking views. If you have more energy, after seeing the view on your way back down you can turn left to walk to Canyon Overlook which would be an additional 1.5 miles each way.

Difficulty:
Hard
Length: 11 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet
Parking: There is very limited parking at Midgley Bridge which fills up quickly. I recommend starting the hike early to get parking and also to hike during the cooler part of the day. If you don’t get here in time to park, there are spots along 89A but walking along this road can be scary. There is a really narrow dirt walkway along the road you can walk on, but I would recommend avoiding this walk and arriving early enough to park in the parking lot.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

GETAWAY COMPASS

Kauai Island Garden Isle

Travel guides created to inspire and enable people to use their time away from the office to explore the world.

Get Inspiration and Tips for Your Next Getaway
Featured

Share

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *