The Devil’s Bridge is THE hike to do when you’re in Sedona Arizona. Made very famous by Instagram, this is an extremely popular hiking trail with incredible views and an unbeatable photo opportunity with the iconic bridge. It’s a pretty easy trail with beautiful red rock and desert scenery. While the bridge at the end is the main draw for most, the hike to get there can able be very beautiful and rewarding too.
- Distance: 2-4.2 round trip (depending on route)
- Type: Out & Back
- Time: 2-3 hours
- Elevation at trailhead: 4,600 feet
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 ft
- Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
- Crowd Factor: Very Very Extremely High
- Best Time: March-May, Sept-Oct
- Permits/Fees: No
- Water: No
Best Time to Hike & How to Avoid The Crowds
Before diving into the hike, we have to mention the popularity of this trail and the crowds. Sedona is a ridiculously popular hiking destination, especially in Spring (March-May), and the Fall (Sept-Oct). You can expect everything to take twice as long during your trip – whether that’s looking for parking (if you can even find it) or just trying to drive to the trailheads with all of the traffic if you visit during these times of year.
Same goes for this trail – it get mobbed! In order to get your iconic photo on the bridge, you should expect to wait anywhere from 30mins – 2hrs depending on the time of day. Everyone is very patient and friendly and the hikers in line behind you will often take your photo for you. Everyone “gets it” and is willing to wait their turn, just be prepared for this reality.
Pro Tip: Start this hike at 7am or after 5pm – it’s your best chance for avoiding crowds. We started hiking at 6:45am (on a Tues at the end of April) and reached the bridge a little before 7:30am. There was already a 30min wait to take a photo on top of the bridge.
There are three options for trailheads for this hike. Two are accessible via passenger car and one is only accessible with a 4×4 vehicle.
With a 4×4
If you have (or rent) a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive and park directly at the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead. From here, the hike to the bridge is one mile each way (for a total of 2mi round trip).
This parking lot is located on Dry Creek Road, past the parking lot for all of the non 4×4 vehicles :
You’ll leave the paved road, crossing over some rocks that you absolutely must have a high clearance vehicle for.
Then it’s a straight shot down the bump jeep road to a dirt parking lot at the trailhead. This parking lot is relatively small and can fit around 6-8 vehicles, but most people doing this hike don’t have a 4×4 and won’t be joining you in this lot.
Without a 4×4
If you don’t have a 4×4, you won’t be able to drive to the trailhead parking lot and therefore will have to park in a lot nearby and hike approx. 1mi in order to get to the “official” trailhead. There are two options for this:
Dry Creek Parking Lot
This is the most commonly used parking lot for this hike. The lot is just a little ways down Dry Creek road, before the roadblock which turns it into a jeep road. From here your hike will be 4.6 miles roundtrip as you’ll have to walk the 1.3 miles down the jeep road to get to the trailhead.
Parking here is free, and the lot holds around 30-40 cars but it fills up fast… like by 8am fast! Once the lot is full, you’ll have to park along the side of the road back out on the main street (Boynton Canyon). Depending on how much of an overflow of parking there is, this could add additional miles to your trip. When we visited in April, there were cars parking along the roadside for over a mile in each direction.
This is the “alternate” trailhead for getting access to The Devil’s Bridge. This is a medium sized lot off of Long Canyon Road that holds maybe 15-20 cars. From here you would follow the Mescal Trail until it meets up with The Devil’s Bridge Trail and the Dry Creek jeep road. From here, you’re hike will be just about 4miles round trip.
Red Rock Pass is required to park and is not available for purchase at this parking lot, so you will need to get it ahead of time. The parking pass is $5/day or $15/week (which is a good option if you’re doing other hikes in the area as most require a parking pass). You can get the parking pass from the vending machines at at some select trailheads or from specific vendors, full list available here.
Overflow street parking is also allowed on the road next to the parking lot.
What To Expect Along The Trail
Pro Tip: I highly recommend choosing the Mescal Trail route. This trail is really picturesque and enjoyable whereas the Dry Creek jeep road is not. Plus you get the extra bonus of having a slightly shorter hike as well.
Here’s the elevation gain of our hike (from Mescal):
From Dry Creek
From the Dry Creek parking lot, you have a 1.3mile hike down the dust jeep road to get to the official Devil’s Bridge trailhead.
I honestly don’t have anything positive to say about this walk – it’s dry and boring with nothing to look at and fully exposed to the sun. You also have to keep an eye out for Jeeps that may be passing you on their way to the parking lot at the trailhead.
From Mescal Trailhead (Chuck Wagon Trail)
The hike from the Mescal Trailhead to the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead is rather enjoyable and beautiful. This is a short 1 mile trail, but includes a variety of terrain and scenery. There will be plenty of markers on the trail to keep you pointed in the right direction.
Shortly after the parking lot the Mescal Trail officially ends and you’ll join the Chuck Wagon Trail (there will be signs pointing you towards Devil’s Bridge). This is a popular trail for mountain bikers, so make sure to keep an eye out as you’re hiking so that you can step to the site.
Sections of the trail are exposed to the sun, but a good portion of it it shaded. The trail winds its way through desert trees, shrubbery, and rock ledges as you head towards the red rocks in the distance. You’ll pass a variety of types of cactus and other desert plants as you listen to birds chirping in the distance (if you’re there early enough).
Starting our hike at around 6:45, we had the trail mostly to ourselves and were able to enjoy the quiet of the desert and the cool morning air.
The trail will come to a head and intersect with the Dry Creek Jeep road. Just cross the road and the official Devil’s Bridge Trail will then begin.
The Devil’s Bridge Trail
The Devil’s Bridge trail widens considerably from the Mescal Trail (though not much wider than the Dry Creek Jeep trail). This trail isn’t particularly pretty, but there are some beautiful tall red rock mountains in this distance as you walk.
The trail continues steadily uphill the majority of the time and you’ll need to step up some rock ledges which span the width of the trail.
The end of the trail gets steep – get ready for a stair master! The trail becomes very narrow (single person only) and is basically a rock stair case. The stairs wind up the side of the hill as you approach the bridge. If you keep a look out you’ll be able to see it off to your left.
There’s a break from the includes as the trail widens for an overlook of the valley below. This is about the half way point of the steep part. Just a little bit further to reach the peak of the trail and the Bridge.
There’s a flat, wide viewing area where you can see the bridge – this is the “iconic spot” where everyone gets photos from. More than likely there’ll be a bunch of people already there, so you’ll know the spot.
Accessing Devil’s Bridge
To get your photo out on the bridge it’s pretty straight forward and simple. You can walk out onto the bridge from the right. There’s a wide and easily navigated path which loops around the hole and onto the bridge.
Do not try to access the bridge from the left. While it may seem that this is a way to beat the crowds, these rocks do not actually connect with the bridge. If you climb down trying to get across this way, you’ll be met with a 4-6ft gap between you and the bridge and a 75 foot drop to the ground below.
The bridge is wider than you think! It’s actually very comfortably wide, and is at least 6feet in it’s narrowest section. The iconic photos and your view from the best viewing area create a bit of an optical illusion making the bridge look much narrower than it really is.