Hikers, welcome to nirvana. It’s easy to use a succession of clichés to describe the views from Sedona ’s trails (breathtaking, heart-stopping, etc.), but it’s hard to convey just how rich and dynamic Sedona’s landscape is, especially when explored on foot.
Thanks to spectacular buttes, massive geological formations, and acres upon acres of protected land, there seems to be a world-class trail wherever you pull over your car in Sedona. And, even if you’re not a hiker, you can’t help but enjoy a little on-foot time kicking up some red dust on the paths that wind for miles throughout the Sedona area.
Serious hikers looking for just the right trails that suit their particular skill level or topographical interests should call the Coconino National Forest’s Red Rock Ranger District at 928/203-7500 for a complete map or visit www.redrockcountry.org .
Beginners may want to consider the four-mile Bell Rock Pathway, the single best introductory trail in Sedona. Conveniently located just north of the Village of Oak Creek  on Highway 179, the frequently crowded trail is popular for good reason: it’s beautiful. The leisurely trek circles the delicate Bell Rock and the nearby Courthouse Butte, making for a can’t-miss trek for families and first-time hikers.
About a mile north on Highway 179, turn into the Back O’Beyond housing development, where the Cathedral Rock Trail offers a bit more solitude and a bigger challenge. The short but steep hike to the “saddle” of Cathedral Rock can be tough, but the rewarding views of the multi-spired formation are incredible. Follow the basket cairns (stacked-rock markers), and be prepared to use the toeholds carved into the rock at one spot. At the top of three-quarters of a mile, some believe a vortex swirls with cosmic energy.
For panoramic views of Sedona  and its red-rock buttes, the 3.5-mile Airport Mesa Trail provides a host of camera-ready vistas. It’s best to hit this trail early in the morning before the parking lot—just off of Highway 89A in West Sedona—fills up.
In West Sedona, take Dry Creek Road north to Forest Road 152, where you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access to the trailhead for Devil’s Bridge, Sedona’s largest natural stone arch. Halfway through the moderate, mile-long hike, the trail splits, with the right trail going to the top of the soaring Devil’s Bridge and the left winding below the arch. A warning for those with a fear of heights: Be prepared to climb the well-used stone stairs, which do not have handrails.
Farther north on Dry Creek Road, you’ll find two stunning canyon trails on Boynton Pass Road. Park just outside Enchantment Resort  to trek the Boynton Canyon Trail, an easy to moderate hike that traverses several different terrains, from cactus-dotted desert to pine-shaded forest. The hike is about five miles round-trip, and you’ll pass Native American ruins in cliffside caves as you make your way up the canyon.
Unlike some of the other panoramic trails that offer sweeping views of Sedona, the cocooning box canyon feels more intimate. Plus, its reputation as a vortex site and the belief by the Apache that the canyon was the birthplace of their ancestors gives the area a spiritual vibe. Look for the tall, elegant spire called Kachina Woman Rock, which watches over the canyon.
Just west on Boynton Canyon Road, you’ll come across the trailhead for Fay Canyon Trail. Oak and pine trees shade parts of this flat, easy hike, which runs about three miles roundtrip to the canyon’s red sandstone walls. Less than a mile into the trek, look for an easy-to-miss side trail, which leads to a natural stone arch that looks like it has been tunneled into the bottom of a large canyon wall. The diverse geology and rich ecosystem are quite scenic.