Sedona, famous for its gorgeous red rock buttes and pine forest, was our destination for part of a day on a recent Arizona trip. We’d driven down the narrow, winding Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive (one of the top scenic drives in the United States) from Flagstaff and had a half day on our hands to hike. Traffic is bad in Sedona so John and I were both trying to avoid retracing our steps – and so nixed a trip back up in the canyon to hike.
We did a quick bit of research over lunch and picked what I would call the best hike in Sedona – The Courthouse Butte hike. It offers stunning desert scenery over its’ entire length.
What makes Courthouse Butte the best hike in Sedona
The trailhead is easy to find and is only about a 10 minute drive south of town. You’ll have to pay $5 for parking. Study the map at the trailhead before you take off to orient yourself. (Helpful hint: I always take a photo of any maps at the trailhead just in case the trail later on is poorly signed. We’ve saved a lot of backtracking by doing this.)
The Courthouse Butte hike is an easy five mile loop with only 200 feet of elevation gain. I wouldn’t have guessed there was even that much. We hiked it in a counter-clockwise direction but both ways would be completely fine – and every foot of the trail is pretty. There are quite a number of trails – heading north and south off the Courthouse Butte trail which would be a treat to explore if you had the time. Stop and read the signs to make sure you’re on the right trail before you continue. In hindsight I wish we’d had a whole day to hike as we would have liked to include several of the loop hikes to the north.
We did this hike at the end of October and it was still hot. If your blood runs cold, you’d probably love the hiking in Sedona come winter. As a word of warning for warm weather hikes, carry a lot of water, sunscreen and a sunhat. Now that I know how busy it is on a weekday I’d recommend an early start on the weekend so you can snag a parking space.
Getting to the trailhead for the Courthouse Butte hike
From downtown Sedona follow Highway 179 S for 5.4 miles (assuming the start point is the intersection of Jordan Road and Route 89A) to the Bell Rock parking lot – which will be on your left. Start watching for the turnoff shortly after you pass the turnoff to which will be on your right. If you have time take a few minutes to check out the view from Yavapai Point.
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Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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