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I often get asked about things to do in Phoenix, or day trips to take from the Valley. Driving up to Sedona is probably one of the most popular options since it’s such a unique landscape. Great day trip options are one of the huge benefits of living here. Sedona continues to be a great option to go up for the day or even longer. If you’re wanting to get in a hike you can’t go wrong with Soldiers Pass Trail!
TIPS FOR HIKING SOLDIER PASS TRAIL IN SEDONA, AZ
Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona, AZ is a gorgeous moderate to slightly difficult hike (depending on detours). You can take it as a full loop or just pick and choose what you want to see. The highlights of this particular trail are Devils Kitchen Sinkhole, The Seven Sacred Pools, and Soldier Pass Arches that are just below Brins Mesa. Parking is extremely limited so you’ll definitely want to check out my tips below including information on the new FREE parking shuttle!
Are you ready for some awesome Arizona travel tips this year?! I have not written enough about this state I love. I think I’ve been trying to keep it a secret. This year I’m focusing on bringing value to my readers so keeping local spots, tips, and tricks a secret doesn’t give you much does it?! Soldier Pass Trail is a “moderately trafficked” trail and I think it’s only moderate because of the lack of parking, otherwise, I’m betting it would be MUCH busier. Here’s a video of our visit:
This is a great hike for families with some considerations. The full loop has a pretty steep climb going up to Brin’s Mesa so if you have little ones or family members that don’t want a rough hike just stick to 1/2 of the hike and turn around when it starts getting too rough. It’s definitely still a “hike” and not a paved/stroller usage type road. The great thing about hiking in Sedona is that even if you don’t do the full hike you can still get in a ton of great views!
Part of the trail is used for Jeeps/bikes/etc and some is just for on foot so portions of it may be busier than others. This trip we went on a Thursday late afternoon and it was pretty quiet. Both the Devils Kitchen Sinkhole and the Seven Sacred Pools can both be seen without too rough of a hike if you park in the “main” parking space. I didn’t do the full loop on this trip so I’m not sure about the other additional parking that’s on the other end.
TIPS FOR HIKING SOLDIER PASS TRAIL
Parking is going to be your biggest hurdle. If you want to drive and park go first thing in the morning during the week not on a holiday. If you’re trying to visit on a weekend, in the Summer, Spring Break etc. you’re going to have a tough time parking unless you’re one of the first 14 vehicles there. There is NO parking outside of the parking lot as it is a residential neighborhood. There is an additional parking lot that you can try as well but I’m having trouble finding driving directions. We visited on a Thursday afternoon in late January and still had to wait 20 minutes or so for someone to come back to their car and leave.
Now that the new shuttle is running (see below) the parking lots will be closed during shuttle service hours so check the shuttle schedule before leaving.
New FREE Sedona Hiking Shuttle
As of 2022 there is a brand new shuttle service! It runs Thursday – Sunday. You park at their designated park and ride spots & the shuttle will drop off at popular trails (that have very limited parking). It’s totally free and such a great way to save on the stress of parking.
The Sedona Hiking Shuttle stops are:
- Cathedral Rock
- Little Horse
- Soldiers Pass Trail
- Dry Creek, with access to Devil’s Bridge
- Mescal (coming Summer 2022)
The shuttle runs Thursday through Sunday 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM
NOTE: During peak visitation times, shuttles may run seven days a week. Check their website for updates.
During days and hours when the shuttles are running, the parking lots at the Cathedral Rock and Soldier Pass Trailheads will be closed. All visitors are asked to use the shuttle to access these trailheads. Outside of shuttle hours, the trailhead parking will be open. Parking at all other trailheads will be open as determined by the National Forest Service.
The Sedona Hiking Shuttle Pick Up & Parking Locations are:
- North SR 179 Park and Ride, 1294 SR 179 with service to:
- Cathedral Rock Trailhead
- Little Horse Trailhead
- Posse Grounds Park and Ride, 20 Carruth Dr. (in West Sedona), with service to:
- Soldier Pass Trailhead
- Dry Creek Trailhead
- Mescal Trailhead (starting summer 2022)
I would suggest if you’re visiting from out of town and staying in a nearby hotel, see if your hotel offers shuttles or grab an Uber/other rideshare services. Just make sure you pack along PLENTY of water (For out of towners bring 2-3x the water you think you’ll need. A hydration backpack is great for this.), snacks, sunscreen, extra phone chargers etc.
If you’re wanting a photo opp, as usual, first thing in the morning or closer to sunset are going to be your best times. This is true for Soldiers Pass Trail, especially for The Seven Sacred Pools! Keep in mind that the pools are more likely to be full if there has been rain recently. There are times when they are dry.
Please let me know if you have any questions or feel free to add your own tips in the comments!