a short, uphill hike to one of Sedona’s most popular and iconic sites
Devil’s Bridge Trail Guide
MAP: Sedona Trails
PERMITS: none – a Red Rock Pass is not required
DESIGNATION: Coconino National Forest
BEST SEASONS: anytime but summer (it’s hot out there!)
HIKING DISTANCE: 1.8 miles round trip (with high clearance, 4wd) – 4 miles round trip with a passenger car.
ELEVATION: trailhead 4,600ft – gain 400ft to bridge at 5000ft
ACCESS: 4×4 only to Devil’s Bridge Trailhead – passenger car access via Mescal Trailhead
DIRECTIONS: See “Simplified Logistics” section below
GUIDEBOOK: Sedona Hiking
Devil’s Bridge Map
Here’s a good map showing the trail and various access points, courtesy of the National Forest Service. You can right-click the image (or hold your finger on your phone) to see a larger version of the map or download it.
This map is for schematic purposes only. As always, for the most accurate details (with topo lines) check out Caltopo.com
There can be some confusion about the different approaches to Devil’s Bridge. Here’s a simplified version of your options, with driving and hiking directions.
Remember, the Forest Service asks for pedestrians not to walk on the jeep road, due to the high volume of tour traffic.
PLAN A: Parking at Devil’s Bridge Trailhead (4×4 Only!)
This option is only available to those with a high clearance, four wheel drive vehicle. Hiking distance is 1.8 miles round trip.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Highway 89A, take Dry Creek Road north out of town. After 2 miles, turn right on Vultee Arch Road (dirt). Continue for 1.7 miles, and the Devil’s Bridge Trail will be on your right. “Devil’s Bridge Trailhead” registers on Google Maps.
HIKING DIRECTIONS: Follow the Devil’s Bridge Trail 0.9 miles uphill to its namesake arch.
PLAN B: Parking at the Mescal Trailhead (Recommended)
This is the best option for most hikers with a passenger vehicle. Other options require a 4-wheel-drive vehicle or additional hiking distance.
This version of the hike is 4 miles round trip.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Highway 89A, take the Dry Creek Road north out of Sedona. In 2 miles bear left onto Boynton Pass Road. When you’re 3 miles from 89A, turn right onto Long Canyon Road. The Mescal Trailhead Parking will be on your right in 0.3 miles. “Mescal Trailhead” registers in Google Maps.
HIKING DIRECTIONS: Hike the Mescal Trail 0.2 miles east to its junction with the Chuckwagon Trail (0.4 shown on map above is incorrect). Turn left (north) on the Chuckwagon Trail, following it 0.8 miles to the junction with Devils Bridge Trail. Turn right, taking the Devil’s Bridge Trail 1 mile (crossing the jeep road) to its namesake arch.
PLAN C: Parking at Dry Creek Vista (Good for passenger vehicles)
This approach extends the round trip hike to 5.8 miles.
Most users will prefer Plan B, but if you actually love hiking, have extra time, and want something more roundabout than the most efficient way to get your Instagram shot at Devil’s Bridge, this may be for you.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From Highway 89A, take the Dry Creek Road north out of Sedona. After 2 miles, turn right on Vultee Arch Road. After 0.2 miles, turn left where the pavement ends for Dry Creek Vista / Trailhead. “Dry Creek Vista” registers on Google Maps.
HIKING DIRECTIONS: From the trailhead, follow the Chuckwagon Trail 1.1 miles north to its junction with the Mescal Trail. Continue on the Chuckwagon Trail for 0.8 miles, then turn right (east) onto the Devil’s Bridge Trail. Follow the Devil’s Bridge Trail for one mile, crossing the jeep road and climbing uphill to its namesake arch.
General Facts and Information
The height of the Devil’s Bridge formation is 54 feet. In my opinion, Devil’s “Bridge” would be more accurately called an “arch,” since consistently flowing water doesn’t seem to be a main cause of its creation.
Mind the summer heat. Bring water.
Be prepared for crowds! Parking lots can fill up throughout the day, and you will often have to wait in line to get a photo of yourself on the bridge. This is just the nature of things today, as locations like this have become Instagram-famous. Go early or late – the closer you are to sunrise or sunset, the better.
How long does it take? It generally takes anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to do this hike. This figure does not account for driving time to reach to the trailhead, and also greatly depends on the distance of your chosen approach.
This is a dog-friendly hike, but you’re asked to use a leash.
As of 2019 there is still no fee to do this hike. Many other trails in Sedona require a Red Rock Pass, which costs $5 per day (discounts for longer periods).
Mountain bikes are permitted on the Chuckwagon Trail. Please be courteous and yield to them.
Drones are not allowed in this area. You should see signs forbidding their use (No Drone Zone), but there’s some debate about enforcement of this. Personally I despise seeing drones in the backcountry, but this hike is generally so crowded that I’ve sadly come to expect them in places like this.
Despite the fact that this is Coconino National Forest, there’s still no dispersed camping available in the bridge’s immediate vicinity. Go here to review your camping options for the general area (I like the Oak Creek campgrounds best).
For those of you seeking Sedona’s vortexes, the nearby Boyton Canyon is said to be the nearest high-energy site.
I’m not aware of any guided tours that go to Devil’s Bridge.
Accidents and Deaths
Only two deaths have been recorded online from falls on this hike, and (surprisingly?) only one involved a fall from the actual bridge. Both incidents occurred in 2014.
This case was a 53 year-old woman in April of that year – she fell over 70 feet.
Later in December, another woman (58 years old) fell a much shorter distance (8 feet), from the adjacent trail and died of head injuries.
KAFF News reports two cases of hikers getting lost in the area and requiring rescue – a 26 year old woman in April 2017, and a pair of hikers who were lost and forced to spend the night outdoors in October 2018.
Red Rock News reports two rescues from the trail, occurring only days apart in June of 2017. No further details were provided on these calls.
I imagine that the most common way to get into trouble on a hike to Devil’s Bridge is with heat-related issues, like severe dehydration.
My Trip Notes and Photos
I hiked to Devil’s Bridge with friends in August of 2012.
The new approach trails were not yet finished and popularized in the area, so we went the old-fashioned way of driving as far as we could on the jeep trail (not very far) and walking the remaining distance to the trailhead. This approach is highly discouraged nowadays, with a boom in traffic and the existence of new trails.
We did this hike on a whim, late in the day and basically at sunset. We were lucky to have the arch to ourselves with only a handful of other visitors – the result of a winning combination of the late time of day and preceding the age of Instagram’s dominance.
We would have been caught out in the dark, had it not been for the generous offer of a ride from some ATV enthusiasts back to our parked vehicle.
It was a pleasure to feel the breeze in my hair and watch the countryside roll by at dusk in Sedona.