Secret Canyon Trail is a 9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, AZ that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Flagstaff: Drive 27 miles south from Flagstaff to Sedona on US 89A. Continue through Sedona to Dry Creek Road (152C) at the west end of town. Turn right on Dry Creek Road and drive for two miles to Forest Road 152. This road is rough, but can be traveled by passenger vehicles. It is not recommended during wet weather. About 3 miles up this road on the left (west) side of the road is a two-track road. Turn onto this road. There is a trailhead sign at the junction of these two roads. The parking area is approximately 200 feet behind the sign.
Need a high clearance car to get there, if not then you can just hike a few more miles to get to the beginning of the trail.
Lovely views, very few people on trail.
Great hike! We have a 4x4 and drove in 2 miles to cut down on the distance there. Lots of people and Jeeps those first 2 miles, but by the time we got to this trail, we were the only ones on it. Very peaceful and quiet.
What a beautiful canyon! We went on this hike on April 16 and there was no moving water - only pools, but the canyon was incredible when contrasting the green forest to the towering red cliffs. Since the 3.5 mile road to this trailhead is pretty difficult to drive, few people seem to make it, since that turns the hike into 6 miles one way. Ultimately, we found ourselves almost entirely alone for 2 nights in some incredibly beautiful back country! Downside was that we had to pack in 6 miles to get to the canyon.
Hiking from the devils bridge parking lot to the mouth of secret canyon is roughly 6 miles. We hiked 3.5 mile up secret canyon itself before turning around. This was where we also found moving water that we could filter. Trail is very easy to follow. There are also signs at all major trail junctions.
This is an amazing hike. Best when there is water flowing as mentioned in some of the other comments. YOU DO NEED 4x4 TO REACH TRAILHEAD. I drive a Jeep Wrangler and was able to make it fine, but it was a stressful ride racing all of the other Jeep Tour vehicles and all of the people walking the road out to Devil's Bridge. If you do not have a good 4 wheel drive vehicle with good tires, park at the parking lot and hike in the extra 3 miles to avoid ripping up your ride.
The hike is gorgeous. Someone mentioned "West Fork" without all the people, and I would agree. Great cliffs and views in the slot canyon. Not a difficult hike, but it does take time, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to explore the canyon once you get there.
This trail is awesome.
We had to park at the parking lot which adds 3 miles in each direction to the trail had. I don't think our outback would have made it on one section unless we went really slowly, and the 4-runner we saw there apparently got there carefully too.
There is little to no shade until you are in the canyon which is about half a mile past the last turn off from the "David Miller" trail head. We went in July and I drank about 7L.
The jeep road seems to have a lot of foot traffic until the "devil's bridge" turn off, then we only saw a couple of buggies.
The trail is a steady gentle incline which I really didn't notice until the way back as it was a nice gentle decline.
There were plenty of river/creek/stream crossings (not sure which as it was dry when we went), so the hike would be totally different in a rainy period.
The paths are well maintained to a point and there were two shady single tent (two with a squeeze) camp spots in the canyon. The camp spots are up high so should be great in all weather.
We hiked to the very end of the trail but spent about a mile walking up the river Bush-whacking and tripping. In retrospect in glad we did, since we saw the awesome canyon from the river and got to touch the slot walls and walk around with butterflies. There were tadpoles and frogs, and deer tracks, but it was hard. lots of rock jumping and clambering. the river had large pools but if it was flowing we would have not been able to walk the path we took.
Our mistake was missing the trail right at the first view of the "slot-like" red rock when crossing the creek. Previous storm water must have washed away and cairns and a tree had fallen in such a way that it naturally guided us from the path up stream through the slot. we didn't get back on the path again fit about a mile when desperation littlest drove us up the embankment and we saw the trail. There were two parts where you have to cross by walking across a fallen tree, the first is a little unnerving but a solid bough, the second looks easy but is a rotten bough and it groaned underfoot.
We lost the path one more time but found it pretty quickly. Fallen trees betrayed the proper way.
At the end of the path it seems like it keeps going, but we had already walked so far we ate a little and headed back, so it'd be fun to see where that went.
On the way back it was almost impossible to miss the path. We spent about 3 hours hiking up canyon and about 90 mins getting back to the David Miller trail. We built cairns where we had missed the trail up, but as I said before I'm glad we went upstream it was gorgeous and we benefited by having a totally different hike back.
My advice is that if you are frustrated at any point with the quality of the trail, you're not on the actually trail (except for the walking asking a fallen tree bough part).
Loved the hike, was very special.
Contrary to the trail description, this is not a loop hike. You can take Secret Canyon Trail to the Bill Miller Trail to Bear Sign Trail but, by doing so, you would miss all of Secret Canyon. It's a couple miles or so just to get to the mouth of the canyon and that's when the real scenic power kicks in. The walk up Secret is lovely--like West Fork without the people. I always set the window rock as a destination but the canyon walls rise and get more dramatic the farther you hike in. This canyon is especially lovely in the spring when the creek is flowing, in the fall when the leaves are changing and the winter after a snow.
You do need 4WD to get to the trailhead now.