The Fay Canyon trail in Sedona, located close to Boynton Canyon trail(which leads to Sedona Subway Cave), is one of the underrated hikes in Sedona. If you are looking for an excellent hike, you should add this to your itinerary.
It is less crowded than other popular trails in the region. It is relatively easy and suitable for beginner hikers, making it a perfect attraction you can enjoy with your family.
Plus, this area is home to several popular Sedona hikes such as Subway Cave, Birthing Cave, Doe Mountain, and Bear Mountain, which means you will be treated to more stunning views of the gorgeous desert landscapes near Sedona.
Fay Canyon Trail features a unique hidden arch and optional rock scramble leading to dazzling canyon views. Even if you do not want to climb up, you can enjoy beautiful views from the arc.
Fay Canyon trail is preferred by many hikers that prefer a shorter hike with little gain in elevation, offering spectacular views of red rocks and towering mountains in Sedona.
In this post, we cover the details of hiking the Fay Canyon trail, what to expect and parking information, along with some tips.
QUICK INFO ABOUT FAY CANYON TRAIL
- Location – In Coconino National Forest, Sedona Arizona
- Distance – 3 miles round trip
- Type – Out and back
- Duration – 2 hours
- Trailhead – Long Canyon Trailhead
- Elevation Gain – 380 feet
- Hike Difficulty – Easy until the arch, and moderate climbing up to the lookout
- Parking – Limited parking
- Best Time – Morning to afternoon
- Pass Required – No
BEST TIME TO HIKE THE FAY CANYON TRAIL
The peak seasons to explore Sedona are spring and fall, so you can expect higher prices, more waiting time to take pictures at the lookouts, more crowds, and difficulty securing parking spaces.
But the weather is excellent, along with the beautifully transformed landscapes dotted with wildflower blooms, making these seasons perfect to be outdoors in Sedona.
Winter and summer are the low seasons. It is best to avoid visiting Sedona in summer as the temperatures are scorching. No matter which season you visit, it is best to avoid weekends, holidays and peak hours.
The best time of day to hike the Fay Canyon trail is early morning or late afternoon as the light conditions are perfect as you watch the sun at the West Ascent viewpoint looking down the canyon, offering splendid views.
If you come around sunrise, you can capture stunning shots of beautiful Sedona sunrise with fewer crowds. Late afternoon is better for photographing the caves and the views from the lookout as the sun moves further west in the sky.
Recommended – 10 Top Sedona Caves You Should Add To Your Itinerary
HOW TO REACH THE TRAILHEAD?
Fay Canyon trailhead is located on Boynton Pass Road, between Boynton Canyon Road and the Doe Mountain Trailhead. Drive to Boynton Pass Road, about 5 miles northwest of the Main Street District, Uptown Sedona.
From Highway 89A in Sedona, go north on Dry Creek Road for about 3 miles, where it turns into Boynton Pass Road on the left. Keep going on this road for about two miles, being left on the road, staying on Boynton Pass Road the whole way. You have to keep left on both the forks you pass through.
You need to go across the street from the parking lot to get to the Fay Canyon trailhead. Head towards the restroom to walk across the street where you will find a wooden sign indicating the direction to the Fay Canyon trailhead.
WHERE TO FIND A PARKING SPOT
The parking lot for the Fay Canyon Trail will be on the left when you arrive and is well-marked. There is plenty of parking space at the trailhead.
But since the trail is around other popular hiking routes, the area is crowded most of the time, and hence, despite the spacious parking area, spots fill up quickly. There are restrooms.
ALTERNATIVE PARKING OPTIONS
If Fay Canyon Trailhead parking lot is full, head to nearby Doe Mountain or Boynton Canyon, although since Boynton Canyon trailhead is very popular, parking may be difficult there as well.
HOW TO HIKE THE FAY CANYON TRAIL
FAY CANYON TRAIL – THE ARCH
Fay Canyon Arch is one of the first landmarks on the Fay Canyon trail. Start your hike on the Fay Canyon trail, and continue for about 0.6 miles. Keep your eyes on the red rocks to your right side.
After 0.6 miles amidst beautiful landscapes, you will come across a fork with a few of these red rocks. You must take a right here and continue hiking along a creek bed. This stretch is partially shaded as you go through juniper and oak trees.
The path from here will involve a steep climb, so wear sturdy shoes for the ascent. There are multiple trails to get to the arch from here, but it is best to take the path that directly leads you to the arch.
Keep going towards the arch carefully as the elevation increases slightly, as many small rocks are loosely lying around. It can get slippery.
After a while from here, you can see the arch from a distance to your right as you walk on the Fay Canyon trail. The arch, 200 feet up on the canyon’s east side, is made of bright orange-red Schnebly Hill sandstone.
Fay Canyon arch may not be as stunning as the others, but it is worth stopping by for some panoramas. You can walk through the arch, even to the top, if you are comfortable and careful to enjoy the views from the top.
FAY CANYON OVERLOOK
Climbing up the arch and scrambling up going further for the lookout is optional. If you want to skip these, you must follow the trail to go back(mentioned below).
If you wish to go to the lookout, get back on the main trail after getting down from the arch and continue beyond the sign for about half a mile to reach the end of Fay Canyon. There is a sign marking the trail’s end, but you need to go further for the lookout.
You will find the fork or ascents at the end of Fay Canyon, West Ascent and East Ascent. The West Ascent Trail leads to the top of a vast lone rock formation, which is the viewing platform or the beautiful overlook of the same canyon, which offers striking views.
Follow the west of the trail, which opens up to a vast area for a short scramble. Here, you need to climb slick rock and small dirt sections for about 0.2 miles with significant drop-offs to the side.
You will turn then to be at the top. Spend some time here capturing the shots and taking in the views. Stay within the edge, as the area can be windy.
If you go early, you can enjoy the peace of the canyon and relax a bit at the trail’s end before returning.
You need to head back the same way you climbed up to return to the parking lot. After you scramble down to the ground, it is a flat trail back, which should not take much time.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FAY CANYON TRAIL
These are some frequently asked questions about hiking Fay Canyon Trail in Sedona.
IS THE FAY CANYON TRAIL WORTH IT?
Fay Canyon Trail is one of the most accessible hikes in Sedona and can be conveniently combined with other hikes nearby, including the Doe Mountain Trail and Boynton Canyon Trail, all of which can be done in one day.
IS THE FAY CANYON TRAIL DIFFICULT?
Fay Canyon Trail is accessible and mostly flat, but due to the slight climbing at the trail leading to the Fay Canyon Arch and the West Ascent rock scramble at the trail’s end, the path can be moderately difficult. The route is still easier, shorter and needs no prior hiking experience.
DO YOU NEED A PASS FOR THE FAY CANYON TRAIL HIKE?
No, no permit is required to hike the Fay Canyon trail.
HOW LONG IS THE FAY CANYON HIKE?
Including the scrambling up to the top, it should take about 2 hours on average to complete the hike, except for the additional time you may take to enjoy and take photos.
IS THE FAY CANYON TRAIL DOG-FRIENDLY?
Yes, Fay Canyon Trail is a dog-friendly hike in Sedona, but the dogs must always be on a short leash.
OTHER HIKING TRIPS IN SEDONA YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT
- Subway Cave – Check this guide to find the famous Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon Trail, the most photographed cave in Sedona.
- Birthing Cave – The most accessible cave to reach in Sedona is Birthing Cave on Long Canyon Trail
- Keyhole Cave – If you are looking for an adventurous cave hike in Sedona, Keyhole Cave on the Sugarloaf trailhead is a must-visit.
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