Best Hard Hikes in Sedona

Our Recommendations for the Best Hard Hikes in Red Rock Country

1) Bear Mountain Trail: Named after one of the most legendary characters to ever live in the Southwest, Jesse "Bear" Howard, this trail will take your breath away in all ways possible. The trail is steep in grade and follows stacked rock cairns all the way to the summit. Along the path hikers huff-up the serpentine "goat trail" that covers all sides of the mountain and leads through four false-summits.  The elevated views looking into Fay Canyon, along the third shelf, are literally a free lesson of Sedona Geology 101. Featuring views of distant mountains, mesas, spires, hoodoos, monoliths, arches, hedgehogs, arroyos, head-cuts, and even ruins that show the essence of the great American Southwest.  Length: 5.4 miles/1,924ft. Time: 3.5 hours. Fees: Red Rock Pass. Restrooms: Yes. INFO/MAP/Google Maps

2) Wilson Mountain North & South: Named after an old Arkansas bear hunter known as Richard Wilson, who was mauled by a bear here in the 1880's. Wilson was a farm hand for the famous Thompson Family (formerly of Indian Gardens) and was asked to watch over the family, while the patriarch Jim Thompson, was attending court in nearby Prescott, Arizona. When he failed to show up after 7 days, his body was later found in a big canyon just below present day Midgley Bridge. Both the canyon he was found in, and the mountain above, now honor his name as Wilson Canyon and Wilson Mountain respectively. From either the North or South entry, the hike leads to the highest peak in Sedona at 7,122ft. The south entry begins at Midgley Bridge and follows switchbacks along a narrow trail to the first bench, where it connects with North Wilson Mountain Trail. This section of trail is heavily composed of basalt rock and is rocky, rough, and long-going throughout. Our favorite path is North Wilson Mountain because it leads through a richly forested area and saves a mile (each way) en route to the first bench. Both trails are steep, narrow, and challenging for even a well seasoned hiker. At the top saddle, most visitors choose to visit the Southbound Overlook which looks out over Sedona. Our favorite alternative is to take a right at the intersection and follow 2.4 miles (one way) to the Northbound Overlook. This offers views of Munds Canyon, the highest peak in Arizona (Humphreys Peak--12,633ft), and the elusive Secret Mountain Wilderness. If you hike North Wilson Mountain Trail (from Encinoso Picnic Area) to the Northbound Overlook, this would account for a 9 mile day, or 7 miles to the Southbound Overlook. From the bridge, the Southbound Overlook would be 8 miles,  or 11 miles total to the Northbound Overlook. Length (N. Wilson): 9 miles total (North) or 7 miles total (South)/2,450ft. Time: 6 hours. Fees: Red Rock Pass. Restrooms: Yes. INFO/MAP: North (Google Maps)/MAP: South (Google Maps)

3) Sterling Pass to Vultee Arch: Named after a man who was busted for counterfeiting money (Sterling) in Oak Creek Canyon and a famous plane crash that concealed the bodies of a famous aviation pioneer and his wife (Gerald and Sylvia Vultee) in 1938. The trail is steep and has a bell shaped elevation profile. Meaning you will actually summit in the middle of the trail going in, and will then be forced to re-summit, to return back to your car. Despite it's shorter distance and seemingly moderate elevation change; this trail should not be taken lightly. The end of Sterling Pass Trail leads to a magical, free-standing 40ft arch in a remote section of the Secret Mountain Wilderness. This hike can have snow and heavy mud even several weeks after precipitation in the Winter. Perfect hike for avoiding the heat or wind during Spring, Summer, and Fall. This is highly recommended for fit hikers and those interested in exploring Sedona's least visited, and most impressive natural arch. A short scramble leads to the top of the arch for photos--and those exploring the area will find a plaque left behind by honored employees of Vultee following the tragic accident. Length: 5 miles total/1,000ft x 2. Time: 4 hours. Fees: Red Rock Pass. Restrooms: No. Parking: Roadside apron near Manzanita Campground Sign. INFO/MAP/Google Maps

4) Schnebly Hill Trail to Munds Mountain: Named after Mrs. Sedona Miller Arabella Schnebly, and the Munds Family.  The former is where Sedona borrowed it's name and the later is from a family who made a name for themselves in the cattle industry northeast of Sedona. This trail follows along a path formerly used to ship apples, peaches, apricots, and pears to Flagstaff by wagon (3-5 days, one way in the 1860's) and finishes at an overlook that seems to show every inch of Red Rock Country. This trailhead requireds a 4x4 vehicle with good ground clearance to reach the start of the path; located high above Sedona via the scenic Schnebly Hill Road. From the first-step-on, the trailhead gains elevation as it follows up the Mogollon Rim to the top of Munds Mountain. Although the grade is steady and easy going at the start, it steepens dramatically at the beginning of Munds Mountain Trail. Once atop Munds Mountain, we suggest following at least 1.25 miles, or until the trail disintegrates overlooking Lee Mountain and all of Sedona.  Length: 8 miles total/1,400ft. Time: 5 hours. Fees: Does not require a Red Rock Pass. Restrooms: No. Parking: Requires 4x4 & high clearance. INFO/MAP/Google Maps

5) The Hangover Trail: Trail created by some of the best mountain bikers to ever call Sedona home. The Hangover is all it's cracked up to be and more. Recently, Outside Magazine listed it as one of the Ten Great American Mountain Biking Trails. Its elevated views of Oak Creek Canyon, Wilson Mountain, Cowpies, and Munds Mountain pack a Mike Tyson punch for a view. For 1.75 miles, the trail narrows to less than 4 feet wide, with steep overlooks and winds along a goat path which follows high above some of Sedona's most prominent rock structures. The trail should be done as a clockwise loop which will take you in the opposite direction of mountain bikers. Be prepared to see mountain bikers moving fastly along the trail, and ensure your group all goes the same way to let them pass. With a high clearance vehicle, one can park at Cowpies parking lot and follow Munds Wagon (1 mile) to Hangover (3.2 miles) to Cowpies (.6) for a loop that's about 5 miles total with 875ft of elevation. For those without a high clearance vehicle, the trail will be 8.6 miles total. From the Huckaby Parking Lot via Schnebly Hill Rd, this would involve the following trails: Munds Wagon (2 miles) to Hangover (3.2 miles) to Cowpies (.6) to Munds Wagon (3 miles) in a clockwise lasso loop.  Length: 8.6 miles total (no 4x4)/5miles (4x4)/875ft. Time: 5/3 hours. Fees: Red Rock Pass from Huckaby/None for Cowpies. Restrooms: Yes (Huckaby). Parking: Requires high clearance vehicle to reach Cowpies parking lot. INFO/MAP/Google Maps

Learn More About Sedona's Best:

Easy Hikes/Moderate Hikes

Exploring Arizona Quicklinks

Exploring Scottsdale / Exploring Prescott / Exploring Grand Canyon / Exploring Flagstaff / Exploring Page / Best Hikes in Sedona / Easy Sedona Hikes / Moderate Sedona Hikes / Hard Sedona Hikes / N. AZ Archaeology Sites

Best Food in Sedona / Sedona Nightlife / Sedona Weather / Frequently Asked Questions

Useful Hiking Links

List of Sedona Hiking Trails A - J / List of Sedona Hiking Trails L - Z

Red Rock Ranger District Recreation Guide

Free Sedona Hiking Maps with Trail Distances

Free Sedona Vortex Maps & Information

Turn the Adventure ON

Tour Difficulty: Easy Hikes, Moderate Hikes, Hard Hikes

Tour Length: Two Hour, Three Hour, Half Day, Full Day, Marathon Day Tours

Ask Us: Would you like to be contacted by one of our adventure consultants? Email us at or call (928)239-3638

Frequently Asked Questions?

Explore More