Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

Boynton Canyon Trail – Sedona, Arizona

in Arizona

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – Sedona is one of my favorite places in the world. The vibe of the town and its people and the many, many hikes available make me seriously happy. And I’ve discovered a lovely hike in Boynton Canyon Trail (not to be confused with the Boynton Canyon Vortex I wrote about in an earlier post.) While the vortex is named for the nearby Boynton Canyon – this is the trail that will actually take you back into the canyon itself.

Boynton Canyon

This trail is dog-friendly and considered easy due to the mild terrain (although there is some steep bits at the very end.) It’s approximately 2.4 miles long, but it is out and back so if you go the entire distance you’re committing to nearly 5 miles. There is no water available at the trailhead and while some of this hike is shaded, the temperatures in summer can be very hot (90+ F). It is very important that you remember to bring enough water for your whole family (dogs included!)

To begin this hike – you go to the Boynton Canyon Trailhead which is a paved parking lot with vault toilets and a handy little Red Rock pass pay station. Red Rock passes can also be obtained at a ranger station or in town at several gas stations. Or if you go hiking as much as my family does – you’ll benefit from purchasing an America the Beautiful annual pass which can be used in place of the Red Rock pass at this trailhead.

Boynton Canyon parking lot

Red Rock Pass machine

Red Rock Pass dispensing machine

Trail bathroom

Vault toilets in parking lot

We hit this trail in mid-March and temperatures were very pleasant in the mid-70’s during the day. However, we had already hiked the Fay Canyon Trail earlier in the morning so weren’t sure if the youngest kiddo (age 5) would be able to swing another 5 mile hike. Turns out she did great (with periodic piggy-back rides.) I’d say this is a great hike for kids who like to hike age 5+ (but be warned you might have to shorten the distance or do a little carrying.) It’s a bit too long for the very littlest kiddos unless you plan to carry them much of the way.

Perhaps my only complaint about this trail has to do with the fact that you end up walking directly alongside a sizeable resort hotel and its fence for some distance at the beginning of the trail. I much prefer to see only nature and not a hotel. To be fair – the scenery is still beautiful, but I’d really love to NOT see the hotel while on the trail. Even so – the trail is totally worth it for the views past the hotel and the spectacular end. When we began this trail – I was very ready to proclaim it a don’t-bother hike, but after we got past the hotel I quickly changed my tune.

The trail is consistently nice and flat with lots of red rock dust.

Trail start

Follow the signs towards Boynton Canyon. Also – be aware you’re in bear country so no feeding them!

Trail signage

Soon after you start through a rocky bit with more trees (and shade!)

Rocky bit

The trail comes to a ‘Y’ – you’ll want to stay to the left (the right takes you to Deadman’s Pass Trail.)

Red rock dust

Trail 47

Boynton Canyon Trail is part of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness area. Horses are allowed (as well as dogs), but no motorized vehicles (including mountain bikes.)

Secret Wilderness area

After you turn this corner – you’ll encounter another ‘Y’ in the trail.

Getting to Vista Trail

The Vista Trail takes you up to the Boynton Canyon Vortex area.

Vista Trail Signage

In the shot below – you can see one of the paved roads that are a part of the Enchantment Resort that runs along a portion of this trail (at the bottom of the picture.)

Canyon Views

Rock Outcropping

Rocky Outcropping in distance

In the shot below – you’re looking back on the trail. You can see just how closely the trail runs to the Enchantment Resort property (and perhaps why I didn’t enjoy this part of the trail!)

Resort fencing

Going towards the canyon

The shot below captures when the trail starts to really get good – you walk right next to a canyon wall and it’s shady and simply gorgeous.

Trail next to the rocks

Hiking along the canyon wall

Look at those views!

Prickly pear

As we walked this part of the trail the bees were buzzing so loudly it sounded like we were walking through a hive. So if you have a bee allergy – best to avoid or bring your Epi-Pen.

Bee bushes


The trail alternates back and forth between red rock dusty and flat and little bits of forested shade – which is great news for those doing it in summer because there’s always a shady part coming up to help you cool off.

Forested trail

Trail beside canyon


The shot below is at nearly trail’s end. This is the canyon wall where you’ll turn and climb up just a little.

Canyon end

And here’s the official trail’s end sign.

End of Trail

Directly to your right (not going past the trail’s end sign) – you’ll see this beauty.

Top of rock

More views

Here’s the view looking back at the canyon wall from the general vicinity of the trail’s end sign.

Canyon with sun

This hike took our (already tired) family of five about 3.5 hours. I think if you did this when you were fresh it would definitely take less time. The terrain is smooth with some small elevation gains at the end and the scenery (except for the part right next to the hotel) is absolutely stunning! I can’t wait to go back!

For more information – please visit the Coconino National Forest page for the Boynton Canyon Trail.

Other Nearby Parks and Trails:

RobinGuest Post by Robin Laulainen. Robin writes about camping and other outdoorsy stuff at Trek Southwest, pets every dog she meets, and drinks more coffee than she should. She blogs about her other passion - creating - at Make It Yourself Girl.

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