If you are looking for an easy hike, the Doe Mountain trail in Sedona is one of the best hikes to soak in the fantastic views of the towering red rocks, gorgeous mountains and splendid desert vegetation in the Coconino National Forest.
If you want to admire the stunning vistas that characterize the wilderness encompassing Sedona but do not want to hike longer distances or go on challenging trails, the Doe Mountain trail is one of the best for you.
Plus, it is one of the best spots to watch a splendid sunset in Sedona, as well as one of the fantastic spots for Sedona Sunrise. The Doe Mountain trail is suitable for people of all experience levels. It can be completed within an hour, leaving you enough time to relax and admire the spectacular panoramas from the top.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to hike the Doe Mountain trail Sedona easily, parking details, and things to know before you hike.
WHAT IS THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL AND WHY IS IT SPECIAL?
Doe Mountain trail is one of the most popular trails in Sedona. It is no surprise as it is one of the few Sedona hiking trails that offer incredible, dramatic 360-degree views of Boynton Pass, the Verde Valley, Mingus Mountain, and other Buttes that dominate the landscapes.
From the east rim of the mesa, you can check out the wide, bushy valley of Dry Creek, Capitol Butte and downtown Sedona. The north edge offers gorgeous views of Bear Mountain, other ravines and pinnacles in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.
This flat-topped mountain, or Mesa, mainly comprising Apache limestone, was formed when this portion of the earth in the plateau got uplifted by tectonic pressure from underneath. Over thousands of years, the sides eroded spectacularly along its southern edge.
BEST TIME TO HIKE THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL
Spring and fall are the most popular months in Sedona, as these months offer the best weather conditions, beautiful landscapes and the ideal time to be outdoors.
The best time to visit the Doe Mountain trail is on weekdays during spring and fall, preferably early in the morning or the afternoon for the best light conditions.
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March to May and October and November are the best months. But this means that the attractions and famous landmarks get crowded during these months, accommodation can be expensive, and securing parking is a challenge if you get there early in the morning.
The temperatures in Sedona in the winter, from December through February are cold, but hiking is more enjoyable with fewer tourists and cooler weather. Accommodations are also less expensive in winter.
QUICK INFO AND HIKING DETAILS OF THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL SEDONA
- Distance – 2.6 miles round trip
- Type – Out and back
- Duration – 1 to 2 hours
- Trailhead – Doe Mountain Trailhead
- Elevation Gain – 500 feet
- Hike Difficulty – Moderate
- Parking – Small slot at Doe Mountain Trailhead
- Best Time – Morning and Sunset
- Pass Required – Yes, Red Rock Pass or National Parks Pass required
IS A PERMIT REQUIRED TO HIKE THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL?
You will need to display a Red Rock Pass or America National Parks Pass to access the Doe Mountain Trail in Sedona. You can buy the day pass for $5 at the entrance.
RED ROCK PASS
If you plan to do multiple hikes in Sedona, we recommend getting a Red Rock Pass, as many trailheads and roads require a permit, and you can save a few bucks by having this pass handy.
1-Day Red Rock Pass costs $5, $15 per week and $20 for one year. You can get the Red Rock Pass at recreation.gov.
HOW TO REACH THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAILHEAD?
The Doe Mountain and Bear Mountain trailhead is located on Boynton Pass Road, 5.7 miles from AZ 89A in Sedona.
After leaving Sedona, head on Dry Creek Road for about 3 miles. When you reach the end, turn left onto Boynton Pass Road until you reach the end after driving for about 1.7 miles where you reach a stop sign.
Here, take left again onto Boynton Pass Road for over a mile and you will reach the parking lot on the left, marked as the Doe Mountain and Bear Mountain trailhead parking lot.
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WHERE TO PARK?
The parking area located at the trailhead serves the Doe Mountain and Bear Mountain hikes. This parking area usually gets filled around 8 AM. There are restrooms available.
You need to display either the Red Rock Pass or America National Parks Pass here for the permit.
It is best to get here early for both sunrise and sunset hikes. If the parking is full, get back on Boynton Pass Road to reach the Fay Canyon trailhead parking lot about 0.7 miles on the road.
It is more extensive and also has restrooms. Another option for parking is on Airie Road, where parking is free, and spaces are available all day. There are no restrooms at Airie.
HOW TO HIKE THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL
The Doe Mountain trailhead starts at the foot of the parking lot. About a few minutes into the trail, you will come across a crossing that leads to the Aerie Trail. Continue passing along the main path towards the edge of the Mesa in the south.
From here, the actual trail with the ascent begins. The path ranges between rocky terrain and somewhat steep rock, constantly zig-zagging up the face of the mountain that you will need to climb through amidst rocks.
This stretch of the climb is entirely unshaded, and the temperatures can feel scorching if you do it in the afternoon. So bring a hat, wear sunglasses and sunscreen.
Here you can see the typical Sedona vegetation comprising oak, manzanita, juniper, opuntia, agave and yucca.
There are some higher step-ups along the way, and it is best to wear sturdy hiking shoes, keep steady steps, and watch out for loose rocks, snakes, scorpions or other critters.
Despite the short distance, the landscape and steepness make it a slower climb, especially the last part of reaching the flat top summit. It is best to bring along a hiking stick or pole.
Also, strong winds in the afternoon are common and can gust with some strength, so be careful when close to the edges around the summit, as the drop-offs are treacherous.
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You will first turn right and left and finally lead up a valley to the flat summit or Mesa at an elevation of 5,050 feet before crossing over to the main viewpoint on the south side. This stretch of the hike up to the top is steep, so take your time.
Once you reach the flat summit, it is the end of the hike! Many people wander the entire mesa top before heading back down. You are recommended to do that too, as you can admire the fantastic 360-degree panoramic views, including many landmarks and attractions.
Check out Wilson Mountain, Capitol Butte, Dry Creek, and West Sedona from the south rim. From the north viewpoint, you can see the more extensive and taller peaks around Bear Mountain, the Verde Valley in the southwest, the end of Sycamore Canyon, and the distant Black Hills.
The view from any point at the summit stretches for miles. Find a spot and soak in the incredible views, especially the magical panoramas around sunrise and sunset, when the colours paint the sky and the bright red and orange landscapes gleam, making it picture-perfect.
When you’re ready to go back, take the same route down the mountain to the trailhead.
GOOD TO KNOW
If you are doing the sunset hike along the Doe Mountain trail, we recommend timing your walk to arrive at least 2 hours before sunset, ensuring you can view the best sunset views.
As the colours begin to form a bit earlier than the set time, you can witness the dazzling colours magically transforming the landscapes allowing you to soak in some splendid 360-degree views of the Red Rocks wilderness and wander around on the top of the Mesa for a little.
If you want to avoid hiking back in the dark, start getting down at least 30 minutes before the sun sets. If you wish to watch the complete sunset, carry headgear or a night lamp with you to head back at night.
TIPS FOR HIKING THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL SEDONA
START THE HIKE EARLY
As mentioned earlier, starting the hike early in the morning is best, ideally around or right after sunrise. Apart from securing parking spaces, you can hike without crowds and enjoy photographing and peacefully exploring the trail and cave.
SUNSET IS THE POPULAR TIME
Doe Mountain Trail is one of the best sunset spots in Sedona, so if you do not prefer going early, head there to admire some fantastic sunset views over the gorgeous red rock mountains.
If you’re using this trail to watch a sunset, bring a headlamp to find your way back to Doe Mountain Trail in the dark.
STAY ON THE TRAIL
It is best to stay on the path while hiking the Doe Mountain trail. Follow the signs and do not open or remove any gates.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PATH WHILE HIKING
Keep looking at the GPS and track your trail once you begin your hike to know your route and to ensure that you can periodically check in and see you’re on the right path.
RESPECT THE LAND
The Doe Mountain Trail and the surrounding areas, including the Sedona Subway Cave, are of spiritual significance and sacred sites to the Native Americans that should be respected at all times. Do not remove anything from the area, make rock piles, or move the rocks or graffiti rocks.
LEAVE NO TRACE
Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace when hiking:
- Packing out what you bring to the hiking trail.
- Being considerate of other hikers.
- Staying on the course.
- Minimising campfire impacts.
- Not approaching or feeding wildlife.
If you are specifically planning to do photography along the Doe Mountain trail in Sedona, it is best to go in the morning or around sunset when there is sufficient light in the cave premises.
But these times will be crowded, so you must wait for your turn. Expect a waiting period of at least 30 minutes to one hour here.
FAQS ABOUT THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL
HOW LONG IS THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL?
The total length of the hike roundtrip is 3.2 miles, and it takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete the Doe Mountain trail hike.
IS THE DOE MOUNTAIN TRAIL EASY?
The Doe Mountain trail is short and easy, but because of the steep climb involved along the trail, it is considered moderate, but you do not need any prior experience to climb to the top of the flat summit.
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