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Picking a favorite trail in Sedona is like picking a favorite child... difficult to admit. This big hike holds a big space in my heart. We double parked this one, so we ascended the south side from Midgley Bridge, hiked the north canyon and sedona overlooks, then descended the north down Oak Creek Canyon. I love every foot of this trail, and it never feels like I'm doing the same hike twice. With the elevation change, the terrain changes quickly and very significantly as you hike up- from the iron crusted sandstone, to the grey limestone, dense green pinyon pines, and finally onto the black basalt boulders that overlook the canyons and formations. The weather may also have noticeable differences with the elevation change (snow remains on the plateau much longer, wind is more intense, etc.). The north side is much more green and wooded, which was nice to hike down as the day got hotter. This side is also much steeper with loose rock, so watch your footing, especially when coming down. Wildlife is abundant, especially during the warmer months. We saw two species of horned lizards, deer, possibly a bobcat, and other reptiles and insects. Lots of animal tracks in the mud as well. Not much shade, bring sunscreen and lots of water (1 hr per person, per hour of hiking in the summer; it took us 6 hours to do all the trails with a long break to eat). Both lookouts offer great views- might as well do both since you already hiked up the hardest part! Still my favorite out of so many great hikes in Sedona.

I did this hike yesterday (late March) before the permit system went into effect. Gorgeous hike, but the way back up was pretty grueling but probably because I’d just moved from sea-level Maryland. Don’t skimp on the water— I drank over 3 liters when it was ~78 degrees and sunny. Glad they’re implementing a permit system— this area is gorgeous and is definitely showing signs of overuse.

9 days ago

Nice morning hike. Start early take plenty of water as it gets hot quick.

10 days ago

Challenging hike but well worth it for the views of not only Sedona but the surrounding areas. Difficult to run due to rocky terrain but I suppose it is a mountain after all. Lots of folks looked pretty miserable on the trail- not a lot of shade. Parking sucks but upside is there is less traffic on the trail.

This is a a favorite for hiking in Sedona. Easy to follow the trail.

Best hike I’ve ever been on! Bring an inner tube ($2 at Walmart/ frys) to be able to float along the many pools of water. Beautiful!
Rope swing made for some fun. So amazing!

Easy hike. Great views.

I started this trail but did not finish. It’s relatively easy, but you MUST bring enough water on a hot day. We did not bring enough water, so we decided to turn back, also because we had just gotten off the plane and we’re pretty tired as it was, plus it was very hot. What I didn’t like about this hike is that, truly, it was kind of boring. It’s literally a loop around Courthouse Butte, so there aren’t many other sights other than Bell Rock. It’s also not very well marked, I found it to be confusing.

Easy enough hike assuming it isn’t too warm and the crowds aren’t too bad. We had fun exploring the area and taking in the amazing views.

Wear hiking boots. Bring water hiking sandals and clothes to get wet in. We change into our water sandals when we get to the first crossing and keep them on until we are done and are back across to where we put them on . Dry feet and hiking boots are nice for the hike out after having wet feet all day. Creek is about knee to thigh high at the first crossing. Water is clear and refreshing. Many swimming holes along the whole trail. Remember, this area has flash floods. You may not be able to safely cross the creek during times of rain in the surrounding areas. The hike out is exposed after you leave the creek. Hot in the summer. We love this area. The more you explore the more you find to enjoy. Leave no trace.

Nice easy walk. Good for kids and the grandparents.

I shoved off, at 7:45am on a day with a forecast high of 101. I'm heat tolerant so was not concerned as I took plenty of fluids, about 3.5 liters. For hiking days like this, I freeze a Gatorade overnight so it melts during the hike and then tastes fantastic as a slush towards the end of the hike when I need it the most. I followed the north approach as I read it receives more shade than the southern approach. The first 1.9 miles is fairly steep with an average grade of 15%. Then on the First Bench a pleasant hike across a meadow prior to the final ascent. You will reach a sign post giving you the alternative to go left to the Sedona Overlook or right to the Canyon Overlook. I went right and the next mile is fairly flat and kind of boring but the final view is awesome. It took me 2:11 to reach the end (I'm on Strava so not a guess) of the 5 miles. I found a hiking pole helpful on the descent as there are some slick spots with a lot of loose pebbles. Finished the entire hike in 3:35. It was my birthday today, reaching 60. Damn it.

27 days ago

Loved it! I recorded 8mi RT somehow. Didn’t realize this is the hike to “the crack” great cliff jumping at the end! The water feels great!!!
The hike itself I would say is pretty moderate. Has some incline, but nothing strenuous. My dog did it just fine. It was “monsoon” weekend. It drizzled the whole day with humidity in the mid to low 80s-ish. I would definitely do it again!

Awesome sights. The trail was not marked very well though

This app helped us stay on the correct trails. There are quite a few that intersect and can get a little confusing. We stopped and played in the creek for a while ... it was nice to cool off. I will definitely do this hike again.

1 month ago

The hike was nice. I would rate 3.5 stars. We began at 845am and there was one other car in the lot. The weather was overcast and mid-80s. The clouds were critical as everyone in this thread is right - very little shade and if the sun is out, it'll be beating down on you. The first half of the hike is not that great, pretty simple flat trail. The second half gets much better with some elevation change and beautiful views. The swimming hole around the 3.5-mile mark was also excellent and refreshing. We had the place to ourselves. On our trek back out we passed many people and the lot was nearly full. Get there early on a weekday (if possible) to beat the crowds.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike down, and even more wonderful below. Watch out for poison oak my friends!

Not moderate. This trail is a little hard but totally worth the effort and time.

Just amazing views of red rocks and Sedona. A workout but not as difficult as some other hikes - well worth the effort.

Just went to Bullpen Swimming Hole

1 month ago

This trail is an ASS KICKER!! Super steep, rocky trail for the last half of the first 1.5 miles up to the bench, especially the switchbacks that might as well be washes. At the first half-mile up, I wanted to turn around, but because I'm stubborn, I did not. I took A LOT of short breaks. Be sure to drink a lot of water!! And start early!! I didn't even find the fabled bench on the 1st landing. There was a lot of cussing involved with those switchbacks since after every set it looked like the landing was next, but NOPE! I ended up resting under a tree by the overlook (really stinkin pretty btw). Pro-tip #1, those plants that look like aloe plants and definitely NOT aloe plants, and I got impaled by thorns and scratched up when I brushed up against one of those little shits. The summit trail was a lot easier, plenty of shade. Pro-tip #2, bring bug spray, sunscreen, and at least 3L of water. Pro-tip #3, the north canyon lookout trail is pretty washed out, not scenic, long as heck and takes forever, and filled with little gnats that swarmed in my face. I don't even think the view below was worth it. That trail won't survive another monsoon season. The Sedona lookout is totally worth it though. I reached that area around 430pm, so the pinks and reds were just starting to get brighter. The trip down was pretty easy except for the slight scrambling on some of the switchbacks. Theres some marvellous scenery into the gorge by the switchbacks you don't notice on the way up because you're too focused on not dying. Pro-tip #4, always pay attention to your feet on the way down, and if you want to look at the scenery DON'T DO IT WHILE WALKING!! You will slip on those rocks and possibly go careening off into the canyon. This truly is the "road that goes ever on and on" because you never know when you're going to be at where you're going.

I gotta say though, for the record, if my inexperienced, out-of-shape butt can summit this mountain, you can too. Took 3h up and 2h down (from the N canyon lookout).

This trail was hard AF, but if you're stubborn and brave enough, YOU CAN DO IT!!

(Side note, parking was easy at the picnic area, and I saw maybe 6 people total on the trail.)

Absolutely gorgeous trail!! It offers it all! Goes from a desert drive, to a woods-y trailhead, and then the hike scenery is back and forth a few more times. Truly a unique place. Like previous reviews state, there are three different creek crossings within the first three miles. You can find a few campsites off the trail to the left after the third crossing, if you wish to stay a night or two. I would highly recommend bringing some camp/water shoes along with you, and having something accessible to dry your feet off with. I had a bandana and clipped on to the front of my pack to make my transition a bit more smooth, and it made a world of difference. It's hard to put dry socks on wet feet. Also, the first and second crossing are less than a tenth of a mile apart. If you are switching into camp shoes like I did, leave them on until after the second crossing. Trust me! I saw/heard a ton of lizards in the dry brush along the way, spotted a few small critters at camp, but no snakes or scorpions anywhere. Just be diligent and keep your eyes and ears open. Please practice Leave No Trace as well, and keep this hidden gem as beautiful and serene as it is now. Happy trails!

Beautiful views
Well maintained
Clearly marked
Great variety of elevation and vegetation.
Make plans to swim in Oak Creek

1 month ago

We really enjoyed this hike although it turned out to be 15.5 miles round trip to reach the crack. Most of the hike is flat and out in the hot sun. You follow the creek the entire time and only reach it at the end. Beautiful hike, I don’t think we will repeat it anytime soon.

Did this as part of the bell rock hike. Quite and peaceful except on North side. We had several bike groups go by on north side. The other sides were very quite we found the east and north east side of butte very pretty with moderate trails. I’d do this again for sure.

1 month ago

This was a moderately hard trail for us, mainly due to the distance and the heat! Gorgeous views, and the water was amazing! Cold but it feels super refreshing after the 3.5 mile trek. My husband and I both brought a camel pack and an additional hydro flask so we had enough water for us and our dog... warming if you are bringing a dog. It’s pretty hot for them. There is an area where the trail is black... if burned our dogs feet and we had to carry her on the way back. She has been on several hikes before, and has tough feet... so beware of that part. The rest of the trail isn’t too hot on the ground but that crumbled black rock was no good!

Beautiful trail with manageable level of difficulty

Was bummed when we drove trail head because it is gated to public and the gate closes at 6pm and we arrived at 4:45pm. So we were unable to do the full trail and chose to go as far as the seven pools. Was still an enjoyable hike, easy pace, and I thought the sink hole and the seven pools were very cool. Some good pictures along the way as well.

1 month ago

FYI: I was planning on hiking this trail over memorial weekend but just received an email that they are closing this area on Wed May 23, 2018 due to wild fires. Anyone who have bought a permit will be refunded. Will plan to go again when they reopen.

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