The hike through Fay Canyon is short, easy, and beautiful, which makes it an excellent choice for groups with young children and elderly members. For the more adventurous, there is an arch and several ruins here to explore as well.
Situated northeast of Sedona, Fay Canyon is eroded from Bear Mountain, which rises 1,600 feet above. The trail follows a wash for 1.2 miles along the canyon bottom and is surrounded by towering red sandstone walls.
Less than 1/2 mile in, there is a spur trail to the right that takes you to Fay Canyon Arch. Despite the arch’s enormity, it is difficult to make out from the main trail and the turnoff is somewhat unclear. However, with enough patience and nosing around you should be able to find it.
- Distance: 2.4 miles out and back
- Hike Time: 1-2 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 215 feet
- Fee: Free, but Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass are required to park
- Dogs: Yes
- Difficulty: Easy
The hike begins at Fay Canyon Trailhead, found at a parking lot off of Boynton Pass Road. The trail is on the other side of the road and takes you on a sandy footpath that winds through the piñon and juniper forest as it follows along a wash.
About 1/2 mile from the trailhead, there is a spur trail that leads to a giant natural arch called Fay Canyon Arch. The turnoff is on the right but is often washed out so it may be hard to see. If you look at the lower portion of the cliffs to your right, you might be able to make out the arch.
If you see the “wine glass”, an appropriately named rock formation to the right, you have passed the arch. Backtrack a few hundred feet and continue searching for it.
After a little over a mile of hiking up canyon, you will reach the end of the maintained trail. At this point, you have the option to continue exploring the left or right fingers of the canyon. Be sure to scan the cliff walls in this area for alcoves. Some of these contain ruins left by the prehistoric Sinagua people. Please do not disturb these or remove any artifacts.
From Sedona, head west on Arizona State Route 89A for 3 miles. Turn right onto Dry Creek Road. After 2 miles, Boynton Pass Road turns into Dry Creek Road. Continue for 2.9 miles on Boynton Pass Road then turn left into the parking lot.
- Sedona Trail Map
- Flagstaff, Sedona [Coconino and Kaibab National Forests] (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map)
- USGS Wilson Mountain, AZ – 7.5′