Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Sedona with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

The full Parsons trail is long but beautiful. Pace yourself and take plenty of water (a filter is ideal so you can refill). There are some places where the trail has washed out or crosses a rock field; take the time to make cairns. Most of all enjoy the beautiful scenery!

I’m sure this is a great trail but the only way to get to the GPS coordinates is by trespassing. Wasted my wife’s morning getting here and now I feel awful - thanks.

Just completed this trail 6/9/18, and it's a great moderate trail with beautiful scenery.

First off, play attention to the stack of rocks on the trail. (guidance rocks)

Secondly, the road to get the trail is pavement/dirt road. As a Offroading hobbiest *You DO NOT need a 4wd or Awd vehicle*; took a Honda Civic and no problem. If you have driven to Fossil Creek, it is alot less bumpier than that.
Moreover, the trail has a few swimming spots, the first 1.5 mile you will see spots to cliff jump and relax. We were told by several people the trail ended a mile after, boy they where wrong. We ran into *a boulder where the dirt trail ends* what they didn't notice was the trail veers off to the right.
Once you follow the trail you will cross small creek beds. At one river bed you will find a pile of rocks on the other side to guide you. You will find small cave holes, stagnant water spots, and great views of rock deformation.

At the end of the trail you will find a beautiful Oasis. The water is clear with small turtles, fish and crawdads.
*Warning* the rocks are very slippery even with water shoes, take it slow going down as the rocks in the water a covered with light moss.
Enjoy and whatever you pack it in, pack it out!

1 month ago

We only had time to hike half the trail but loved the views and critters along the way.

Great swimming hole about 1.5 miles in on the trail. Took young kids with us and they did fine. Take plenty of water and decent hiking shoes. 4wd vehicle is not needed to get to trail head.

2 months ago

Nice hike, start EARLY, especially if you are with dogs. We started at 7 am and turned around early cause our dogs were so hot. Views of the town of Sedona and the many different rock formations around town. Wish we could've finished!

2 months ago

Found this trail to be pretty difficult. Path finding is difficult and the trail is extremely easy to loose. Over half the hike is was large periodically loose river rock which made hiking with a heavier pack slow and rough on the ankles. Only standing pools infested with mosquitos were found. The whole hike was worth it for the beautiful red rock surroundings and abundant greenery. Its a difficult one so be prepared to bring ample water.

Very nice trail, good swimming spots. Small camping area several miles in was pretty crowded with weekend warriors.

Favorite swimming hole in that area.

BEAR! I can't believe nobody has posted that they have seen him!! Huge bear is living at the end of the trail where my boyfriend and I camped for a night and had a very close scary encounter he is NOT AFRAID OF HUMANS please please be careful going down there

Amazing trail! Backpacked in and camped next to the creek. But be alert as we spotted a mountain lion on a low cliff directly above the trail about 3 miles in. Trekking poles were very helpful for this hike and all of the creek crossings.

With continued cold weather at home in Colorado, my wife and I decided to head south to warmer weather. A search on All Trails landed us on the Parsons Trail. We upgraded some backpacking gear and were ready to test run it. Arizona is plenty warm this time of year so we took the opportunity to make a trip of it. Good choice.

First, the road to the canyon. You do not need a 4wheel drive vehicle to get there. It is a bumpy dirt road but not a 4wheel jeep road. I wouldn’t exactly take your low profile sports car on it, but anything like a 2 wheel drive cross over would be just fine. Just take your time.

The steep drop into the canyon is brief and not difficult. Trekking poles come in handy with a backpack for balance so I’d recommend a pair of those. Day packers are fine without it. The start of the trail is easy and flat. After the first mile plus, the trail has sections that get rougher. Again, very doable. This is where you begin to see the red rock portion of the canyon which is majestic.

I must give a shoutout to the folks who carefully placed all the cairns particularly for the creek crossings which were not always intuitive on the back half of the canyon. Lots of fingers and false trails so definitely follow the cairns carefully. Creek crossings were also easier with trekking poles so, another plug to take a pair.

Once we got beyond the sign that lets you know you are allowed to camp, we found a nice sandy creek side spot. Plenty of space and a nice view of the canyon wall. Saw fish and a water turtle in the creek which was great. By chance, it was a full moon that night which lit the canyon like a spotlight. Pretty spectacular.

This was a very nice canyon backpack earning it a solid 4 stars. Enjoy!

Some reviews here say that 4WD is not necessary.. It absolutely is!! The last part of the drive near the trail head gets very steep and rocky with no turn around points. Definitely would not recommend driving a regular little car. I would say that this trail is fairly easy, the only "hard" spot was first part, which is a steep drop to get to the base of the mountains. Getting down is easy, but climbing up it with heavy backpacks can be a little bit rough. The trail is sandy and easy to follow for the most part, but there are a few crossing that can get a bit confusing. The water is crystal clear and there is one really awesome swimming hole with deep blue water before you hit the 3.7 mile mark. We camped at the beach spot near the 3.7 mark and it was BEAUTIFUL. Tucked back behind it there was a little space that you could easily set up a tent and a hammock, and there was a little rock pit for fires. Some reviews on here say it gets super crowded but we only saw two other people, and they were only day hiking. Would definitely hike this again!! Make sure to bring lots of water though and maybe some bug spray depending on the time you go. We went late March and the bugs were all over (naturally).

Nice easy trail that goes down into the creek and has a couple water crossings. Water shoes came in handy for us in March.

After skipping Devil’s Bridge because the lots were overflowing (on a Monday) I was happy to find this trail with almost nobody on it! (Lot was almost full at 11 am as there are multiple trails here)

Not sure what the destination is on this specific 3 mile route, but we kept going down to the creek so my pup could cool off, which made the hike just over 4 miles round trip.

Nice amount of shade and elevation, excellent views. Great hike!

6 months ago

This hike is an @$$-kicker! We may have started out along the wrong trail because we ended up west of the path shown here (which ended up adding an extra 5 miles or so). Even in seasons when there is supposed to be water at the bottom of the river it can be sparse so be prepared and take extra water! Stay along the trail even when you get to the bottom because the river bed is unforgiving (follow cairns!) . Once you arrive at the bottom there is not many places to camp so if you find a great spot I would take it! The hike back up is very steep and there are tons of down logs to hurdle over, but you make it up quicker than you’d think and the views are amazing! Once you hit the “drivable” road you’ve only completed about ½ your day. The switchbacks down Casner Mtn are a bitch, but once you hit level ground again there is only a mile left. Although this loop is tough, you really have a sense of satisfaction for completing it with a pack in a couple of days! Wouldn’t do again, but I definitely don’t regret it! Side note: never found Taylor cabin ☹. Total mileage I believe was 27.

Beautiful Hike! The road to the trailhead is long and rough but it’s so worth it! It has everything! Desert, river, greenery, rocks, leaves, tough spots, river crossings, and more! I recorded about 7 miles in and out. We didn’t make it the entire way as about 3.5 miles in there was a spot where we couldn’t all cross so we decided to head back. I would definitely suggest some waterproof (water-friendly) shoes so the water crossing doesn’t hold you back!

Absolutely beautiful!

Always a great hike for a hot day. plenty of swimming holes.

Amazing hike the weather was overcast (nice) love this hike me and my father did this trail together and definitely are coming back again wow one of the best trails I’ve tried

beautiful trail. one of my favorites!

Great trail. Beautiful views and ZERO trash!!

a long dirt road will get you here. 4wd not necessary but highly recommended unless you're in a rental car whose suspension you don't car about. this is a beautiful hike and the water wasn't that cold, surprisingly, in late October! I only went about 2/3 of the way but I can't wait to go back and actually camp!

This is a very cool place, but there are a few things to be aware of. First, NO 4x4 or high-clearance vehicle is required to reach the trailhead. I did it in my Prius, we just had to go very slowly and carefully in some parts. Second, this trail should not be rated as difficult. It is almost all flat and well-marked, except at the end (which I’ll get to). The drop into the canyon from the trail head (maybe 1/5 of a mile?) is really the only incline you have. Third, there are places for backpackers to spend the night, but they are very limited, to the point that I’d be a little nervous to go during a “peak time” for fear of not finding a suitable camp site. Only at the end of the 3.7 mike hike is camping allowed, and once we reached that point we found 2 (maybe 3 if you take up very little space) places to pitch a tent. I guess there could be more, but the trail sure look like it ended to me. One of those sites is a beautiful, huge, riverside sandy beach area that was AMAZING. It was also occupied, leaving us the only other site. The other site is a little patch removed from the river with no views. We didn’t want to have to haul water up the bank to the trail, and then up the trail to the campsite, and luckily the gentlemen at the riverside camp were willing to give us a portion of their space.

Basically, this place is really cool, but maybe better for a day hike than backpacking. We had a nice time, but the campground situation almost upended our trip. Also, the majority of the beautiful views are in the first half of the trip. The trail gets much harder to follow at the end, with more river crossing as well. So, it may be more enjoyable to do the first 2/3rds and not stay the night.

However, the views are stunning, the water is crystal clear and beautiful, and we saw a river otter right where the trail first meets the river! We heard of rattlesnakes from other hikers, but didn’t see any. We went in on Oct 10th, and the colors hadn’t quite changed. The weather was still quite warm, but not summer hot. There is plenty of parking at the trailhead and no fee. Apparently there are panfish in the river, so maybe bring a pole? The majority of the hike is shaded and really nice. Take a camera!

Not sure why it's rated difficult, or heavily traveled. Beautiful easy hike with a few stream/rock scrambles. Passed only two other hiking parties on a Columbus Day holiday. Bring some water shoes, as there are a few places you'll probably want to step in, maybe swim(?) Brrrr!

One of my favorite hikes, Water is all spring fed.
Native fish, Caves, Cliffs, What a Gem.

Beautiful trail. Definitely should be rated as moderate and not hard. I logged 7.5 mi out and back. At the trails end (approx 3.6mi out) there is a sign that says camping permitted beyond this point.

Nice easy Hike swimming holes all along the way. Camp sites about 4 miles in for overnighting. Locals day hike in on Friday and Saturday. Took my son on his second backpack trip. Plenty of water so carry filter or purifying tab.

Once the steep decent it's pretty flat . Would go again not in monsoon season .

I don't know that I'd do it again. definitely won't be in the summer.

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