Hiking in Sedona near water is pure nourishment for the soul…

For those eager to find Sedona’s best-kept secrets, hikes in Sedona near water are a refreshing lure. Whether it’s the soothing ambience of Oak Creek or the  falls along West Fork Trail, each path we detail offers a splash of adventure. Our concise guide takes you straight to Sedona’s top water-infused hikes without the fluff, giving you what you need to dive into these natural wonders.

Key Takeaways

  • Oak Creek Canyon is not only a hiking paradise with outstanding views but also crucial for Sedona’s ecosystem and economy, needing sustainable tourism to protect its fragile environment.
  • These top 6 hikes in Sedona offer a diverse range of experiences with water features, including swimming holes and waterfalls, with each trail boasting its unique charm and challenges.
  • Proper gear, including the right hiking shoes and a waterproof bag, is essential for a comfortable and safe experience on Sedona’s water trails, and being aware of safety, especially regarding slippery terrain and flash floods, is vital.

Discovering Oak Creek: Sedona’s Water Wonderland

Slide Rock State Park

Nestled in the heart of northern Arizona, between Flagstaff and Sedona, lies Oak Creek Canyon – a river gorge known as Sedona’s water wonderland. Its stunning grandeur, stretching about 12 miles long and up to 2.5 miles wide, is a sight to behold. With hidden, colorful cliffs, amazing views akin to those from the Cathedral Rock Trail, and the cool charm of a natural waterslide at Slide Rock State Park, it’s a paradise for outdoor adventurers.

But Oak Creek isn’t just about picturesque views. It’s also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. As you navigate the trails, you might spot Coues whitetail deer, javelina, and tons of different bird species, similar to the wildlife around Bell Rock. Add to that the spectacle of wildflowers, and it’s clear to see why Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona trails are a magnet for nature lovers.

The Importance of Oak Creek

While Oak Creek’s beauty is a feast for the eyes, its significance goes deeper as it plays a critical role in Sedona’s ecosystem. This picturesque environment serves as an important habitat for threatened snake species and the endangered Gila trout. Beyond its ecological significance, Oak Creek also plays an instrumental role in Sedona’s economy. Attracting tourists, Oak Creek bolsters the local economy by creating jobs and contributing over $1 billion annually. Many of these tourists extend their exploration to the nearby Coconino National Forest.

Moreover, Oak Creek has been a key architect in carving Sedona’s breathtaking landscape. Over the years, Oak Creek has shaped the unique landscape of Sedona by moving faults and eroding sedimentary and volcanic rocks, making the trails a favorite among hikers and nature lovers. In essence, Oak Creek is more than just a waterway – it’s a life source, a builder of landscapes, and a catalyst for economic growth.

Preserving Oak Creek

Despite its beauty, Oak Creek faces threats like many natural wonders. The surge of tourism can result in:

  • trail erosion
  • damage to rock formations
  • littering
  • potential disruption to the delicate riparian ecosystem

This highlights the importance of sustainable tourism and the need to balance enjoyment with preservation.

Efforts are underway to conserve this natural treasure. The Oak Creek Watershed Council and Northern Arizona University are working to protect the threatened Emory oaks in Oak Creek Canyon. Preserving Oak Creek is important to ensure that future generations can delight in its beauty and the unique hiking experiences it provides.

Check Availability and Make Reservations at our luxury Bed and Breakfast and Vacation Rental in Sedona here ⇒

Or, simply call 928-203-4180.

Top 6 Sedona Hikes with Water Features

Oak Creek and Cathedral Rock is within walking distance of the Sedona Cathedral Hideaway Bed and Breakfast, Spa and Vacation Rental

Having explored the beauty and importance of Oak Creek, it’s time to delve into the top 6 Sedona hikes with water features. Each trail offers its own unique charm, from cascading waterfalls and serene swimming holes to picturesque creek crossings. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual wanderer, these trails offer an invigorating blend of outdoor adventure and refreshing water experiences.

Some enchanting trails in Sedona’s water wonderland include:

  • West Fork Trail, with its cascading waterfalls
  • Bell Trail at Wet Beaver Creek, with its picturesque swimming hole
  • Soldier Pass Trail, which offers a magical water experience with pools filling up and creating a cascading effect

These trails will take you on an enchanting journey through Sedona’s water wonderland.

1. West Fork Trail

Let’s kick off our trail journey with the West Fork Trail. North of Sedona, this trail is a scenic delight, offering incredible views, a path that runs alongside a creek, and dense forests. The highlight, however, is the refreshing array of shallow swimming holes along the trail, perfect for a dip on a hot summer day.

Stretching approximately 6.5 to 6.9 miles, the West Fork Trail offers a moderately challenging adventure suitable for most hikers. The best time to enjoy water activities along this trail is in the early morning or late afternoon when conditions are most favorable. And keep an eye out for the wildlife! Some of the animals you may spot include:

  • Butterflies
  • Birds
  • Squirrels
  • Lizards
  • Snakes

They can often be seen chilling in their natural habitat.

Check Availability and Make Reservations at our luxury Sedona Bed and Breakfast, Spa and Vacation Rental here ⇒

Or, simply call 928-203-4180.

2. Slide Rock State Park

South of West Fork, Slide Rock State Park stands as the crown jewel of water recreation in the region. Renowned for its natural waterslides carved into the red sandstone by Oak Creek, this picturesque park offers a refreshing oasis for visitors seeking outdoor adventure and relaxation.

Hiking trails wind through the surrounding canyons, providing breathtaking vistas and opportunities for exploration. But it’s the allure of sliding down smooth rock formations and plunging into crystal-clear pools that draws the most attention. From thrilling rides to serene swimming holes, Slide Rock promises fun for all ages.

While Sedona’s climate is relatively mild, the park sees its peak visitation during the spring and summer months when the cool waters provide relief from the desert heat.

For the best experience, arrive early to beat the crowds and secure a parking spot, especially on weekends and holidays, as the park’s popularity often leads to limited availability. Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or a tranquil day by the water, Slide Rock State Park invites you to dive into the beauty of Sedona’s natural wonders.

TIP: Wear good water shoes and clothing that is a little sturdier than a bathing suit if you plan on sliding down the rocks on your bum. Jean shorts are a good choice.

November through March: Weekends only from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. April through October: Weekends from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

3. Red Rock Crossing Trail (within walking distance of the Sedona Cathedral Hideaway Bed and Breakfast, Spa, and Vacation Rental)

Kathy and Larry, owners of Sedona Cathedral Hideaway, enjoying a romantic stroll along Oak Creek in the fall

Our next stop is the Red Rock Crossing Trail, which requires a Red Rock Pass for access. At around 4.3 miles, this moderate trail offers:

  • Some of the best views of Cathedral Rock
  • A river crossing
  • A stunning swimming hole with a killer view of Cathedral Rock
  • A shady swimming hole
  • The vibes from one of Sedona’s famous vortexes

As you embark on this trail, keep an eye out for mule deer, javelina, and coyotes. And don’t forget to check out Red Rock State Park, a vast nature preserve teeming with diverse plants and animals.

After your hike, relax and refuel at the Crescent Moon Recreation Area, with the iconic Cathedral Rock providing the perfect backdrop for your meal.

Check Availability and Make Reservations at our luxury Sedona Bed and Breakfast, Spa and Vacation Rental here ⇒

Or, simply call 928-203-4180.

4. Bell Trail at Wet Beaver Creek (near Sedona)

Swimming holes near Sedona

East of Sedona we encounter a local favorite, the Bell Trail at Wet Beaver Creek. This trail offers a beautiful hike leading to “The Crack,” a popular swimming hole surrounded by towering red sandstone cliffs. At around 6.5 miles, the Bell Trail offers a moderate challenge, making it accessible for most hikers.

As you navigate this trail, remember to respect the rules. Here are some important rules to keep in mind:

  • No camping or campfires are allowed in the canyon
  • Public nudity is prohibited
  • Bikes and other vehicles are not allowed in the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness Areas

But don’t let these rules dampen your spirit.

Keep your eyes open, and you might spot elk, deer, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, various reptiles and amphibians, fish, and numerous bird species.

5. Soldier Pass Trail

Our journey continues to the Soldier Pass Trail. It’s known for its stunning views and unique rock formations. It’s a moderate hike, complete with water features such as the Seven Sacred Pools and sinkholes, providing a unique hiking experience. The trail’s water features depend on rainfall. When it rains abundantly, the pools fill up, causing a cascading effect from one pool to another, forming a mesmerizing water spectacle.

One of the best spots for photos on the Soldier Pass Trail is Devil’s Kitchen, a large sinkhole that provides a dramatic backdrop for photographers. At around 4.5 miles with an elevation gain of about 839 feet, the Soldier Pass Trail is moderately difficult and perfect for hikers looking for a bit of a challenge.

6. Grasshopper Point

Our trail journey culminates at Grasshopper Point. Just a few minutes north of  Uptown Sedona, this spot is a picturesque swimming and picnic area offering stunning views of Sedona’s landscape and a deep swimming hole. Perfect for a family outing or a day out with friends, Grasshopper Point is a blend of adventure and relaxation. And if you’re brave enough, you could even take a leap off the cliffs into the swimming hole.

Check Availability and Make Reservations at our luxury Sedona Bed and Breakfast, Spa and Vacation Rental here ⇒

Or, simply call 928-203-4180.

Essential Gear for Hiking in Sedona near Water

Having explored the trails, it’s time to focus on preparation. Hiking in Sedona’s water trails requires some essential gear. From choosing the right hiking shoes to packing a waterproof bag, proper preparation can ensure a comfortable and safe hiking experience.

Before embarking on your adventure, it’s essential to be equipped with the following essentials:

  • 20-liter capacity backpack
  • Collapsible and reusable water bottle
  • Waterproof sunscreen
  • Lightweight day bag
  • Quick-drying microfiber towel
  • Water shoes

With these essentials, you’re all set to enjoy your water hike in Sedona.

Choosing the Right Hiking Shoes

Choosing the right pair of hiking shoes can significantly enhance your hiking experience. Shoes with good tread for traction on dusty, sandy, rocky, and slick terrain can keep you steady on your feet. Waterproof hiking shoes are especially handy for long hikes as they keep your feet dry and protect them from blisters when you’re hiking in wet conditions.

Some solid options for hiking shoes in wet conditions in Sedona are:

  • Merrell Men’s Moab 2 MID Waterproof Hiking Boot
  • Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
  • Adidas Men’s Eq19
  • Keen NXIS EVO

Remember, comfort is key. So, choose a pair that fits well and suits your hiking needs.

Packing a Waterproof Bag

For any water hike, a waterproof bag is indispensable. It keeps your belongings safe from water splashes or rain, ensuring they stay dry throughout your hike. Whether you need something water-resistant or completely waterproof depends on how close you’ll be to water, so choose a bag that suits your needs.

Some of the best waterproof bags for hiking are:

  • Yeti Panga bags
  • Watershed Colorado
  • Watershed Aleutian
  • NRS Expedition DriDuffel
  • Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack
  • Exped Fold Drybag CS
  • Ortlieb UL Drybag
  • NRS Bill’s Bag Dry Bag

With these options, you can keep your belongings safe, secure, and dry during your Sedona water hike.

Safety Tips for Hiking Near Water in Sedona

Maintaining safety while relishing the beauty of Sedona’s water hikes is of utmost importance. From navigating slippery terrain to being aware of flash flood risks, safety should always be a priority on your hiking adventure.

While hiking near water, it’s important to be cautious of flash floods, particularly during the rainy season, and to be mindful of potentially slippery or uneven trails. Keeping safety tips in mind not only ensures a smooth hiking experience, but also allows you to fully enjoy the natural beauty of Sedona’s water trails.

Navigating Slippery Terrain

Traversing slippery terrain on hiking trails can pose a challenge, particularly for novice hikers. Be wary of:

  • afternoon shadows hiding icy spots
  • wet roots
  • slick rocks
  • leftover snow patches

Remember, safety is paramount, and taking extra precautions can prevent accidents and injuries.

When walking on slippery terrain, follow these tips to ensure steadiness and safety:

  • Keep your back straight
  • Lower your center of gravity
  • Use your whole foot when stepping
  • Take shorter strides
  • Use hiking poles for additional stability and balance
  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good grip

By following these guidelines, you can navigate slippery terrain with confidence.

Flash Flood Awareness

Given that flash floods are a common risk in Sedona’s canyons, awareness and preparedness are crucial. They can occur unexpectedly, particularly in rocky drainages with canyon walls to channel water. Sedona’s flash flood season is from June 15th to September 30th, with the heaviest rainfall between mid-July and mid-August.

To stay safe during flash floods, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid camping or hanging out in low-lying areas near water.
  • Be ready to move to higher ground if you see water levels rising rapidly.
  • Remember, your safety comes first, so always be prepared when embarking on a water hike in Sedona.


From the stunning vistas of Oak Creek Canyon to the refreshing allure of Sedona’s riparian hikes, we’ve explored the captivating beauty of Sedona’s water trails. We’ve delved into the importance of Oak Creek, learned about the top 6 Sedona hikes with water features, and prepared ourselves with essential hiking gear and safety tips. Remember, as you journey through Sedona’s water trails, tread lightly, respect nature, and let the beauty of the great outdoors inspire and rejuvenate you.

Check Availability and Make Reservations at our luxury Sedona Bed and Breakfast, Spa and Vacation Rental here ⇒

Or, simply call 928-203-4180.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular hike in Sedona?

The most popular hike in Sedona is the Cathedral/Templeton Trail, known for its beauty and as a popular spot for proposals. Try it out if you’re looking for a beautiful and memorable hiking experience!

Does Sedona have a waterfall?

Sedona does have waterfalls, including Angel Falls, a 300-foot seasonal cascade that plunges from the high ramparts of Wilson Mountain. There are also smaller cascades on trails like Hangover and Cow Pies.

What is that creek in Sedona?

The creek in Sedona is called Oak Creek, and it is a tributary to the nearby Verde River, providing unique outdoor water adventures in the area.

What makes Oak Creek special?

Oak Creek is special because it is a vital part of Sedona’s ecosystem, providing a home for diverse species and making a significant contribution to the local economy.