Sedona is filled with a handful of beautiful trails and it can be overwhelming to choose one especially if you’re just passing through. Luckily the red rock country holds many small but mighty trails within, allowing you to complete several in one day.
From a local’s perspective Doe Mountain Trail is an underrated yet outstanding choice and tops my list of the best sunrise hikes in Sedona. The trail leads you to an exposed outcropping with an irregular edge and sheer drop offs into the wilderness below. But way beyond that is the mountain range which sun rays flood over as it rises each morning.
In this guide we’ll go over how to get to Doe Mountain Trail, when to hike, local regulations, and prove through many photos why it is one of the best trails for sunrise.
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Doe Mountain Trail Stats
- Hiking Distance | 1.52 miles
- Difficulty | Easy-Moderate
- Elevation Gain | 452 feet
- Total Time | 45-90 minutes
- Permits/Fees | Red Rock Pass or America The Beautiful
- Trailhead | Doe Mountain Trailhead
- Road Conditions | 2WD, paved
- Dog Friendly | Yes
- Facilities | Vault toilet
Below is a map of the Doe Mountain Trail route.
Overall the Doe Mountain Trail is a combination of dirt and rock which is typical around Sedona. There are some large rock portions that require slight scrambling but nothing too intense.
At times it can be difficult to follow for it crosses rocky areas that make it difficult to distinguish the trail. If you pay attention to your surroundings and take your time you’ll have no problem making it to the end of this short and beautiful trail!
Getting To Doe Mountain Trail
This trailhead is a 20 minute drive from the heart of Sedona. You’ll find yourself driving through West Sedona and turning onto Dry Creek Road. Take this road until it turns into Boynton Pass Road, keeping left at the intersection with Long Canyon Road, all the way until you see a sign for Doe Mountain Trailhead on the left.
The parking lot is small and marked with a road sign so you can’t miss it. It shares the space with Bear Mountain Trail which embarks from across the street. There is a vault toilet, picnic table, and area map all within the lot.
Red Rock Pass Or America The Beautiful
Once parked you must display either the $5 Red Rocks day pass or an annual National Parks Pass like the America The Beautiful.
You can purchase a Red Rocks pass at the trailhead parking lot. The kiosks don’t dispense cash so bring exactly $5 or you can usually stop in any local gas station or grocery store to purchase one beforehand.
Do You Have To Use Sedona Shuttle?
The city of Sedona has implemented a free public shuttle that runs year round in order to mitigate the over crowding on trails and roads. It runs Thursday-Sunday and services a number of popular trailheads throughout the city.
If the Sedona Shuttle services a trailhead you are not able to drive to that trailhead during operating hours- you are required to use the shuttle. For more information visit the Sedona Shuttle website.
Doe Mountain Trail is not one of the trails yet serviced by the shuttle. You are able to drive yourself to and from at any time!
Sedona Cares Pledge & Leave No Trace
As you can imagine Sedona is a popular destination for outdoor recreation and tourism. Over the years the crowds and traffic have grown enormously but the streets and agencies within have not, which means at times they have trouble keeping up. Sedona is a small mountain city and needs help from locals and visitors alike to keep the trails and roads clean!
While visiting please be mindful of the impact you have and take part in leaving no trace. This includes:
- sticking to already established trails.
- packing out your trash and picking up any you find.
- respecting all sacred archeological sites you may come across by viewing from afar. This means no touching them, moving artifacts or rocks, leaning on them, or vandalizing in any way.
- camping on durable surfaces in already designated spots.
- respecting others on the trail.
Part of Sedona’s sustainable tourism plan is to share and have others sign the Sedona Cares Pledge. I encourage you to read and sign before your next visit. Let’s work together to preserve the beautiful red rock country we all love visiting!
When To Hike Doe Mountain Trail
Sunrise- obviously! But really the best time to hike in Sedona (especially the Doe Mountain Trail) is for sunrise or sunset. However sunrise is better because you will be facing east and be able to watch as the sun rises over the distant mountain ranges. The red rock glows beautiful hues of red and orange as it is highlighted by the sun.
You can hike during any season in Sedona and have a wonderful time but some seasons are more comfortable than others.
- Spring and fall are by far the busiest yet best when considering temperature.
- Winter will be very chilly but less crowded and ‘Snowdona’ is truly a sight you want to experience.
- Summer can get brutally hot but luckily Doe Mountain is so short that it is doable if you go at sunrise or sunset.
The Hike: Doe Mountain Trail
Doe Mountain Trail embarks right from the parking lot and begins with a short series of wooden steps. Gradually you begin to gain elevation as you climb up the switchbacks closing the distance to the summit.
Eventually there will be a well marked intersection with the Aerie Trail. Keep left/straight along Doe Mountain Trail and continue to climb the elevation.
Once you reach the longer switchbacks near the top the views begin to open up on one side while you hug the mountain range on the other. If you look to your left it is absolutely stunning, especially as first light slowly creeps in and brightens up the sky.
There are a few sections along Doe Mountain Trail that you’ll need to use your hands as you scramble up some rock. It isn’t technical, tricky, or risky. Overall the trail is in great shape and easy to follow if you pay attention and don’t get off track on a small social trail.
Depending on your fitness level this short hike could feel more moderate than easy because of the steepness. After all you are climbing over 400 feet in about 0.76 miles.
Once at the top of Doe Mountain the trail flattens and becomes sandy. There will be little trail signs guiding you to the other side where the vista views are located. This portion is peaceful and if you’re lucky you may spot some white tailed deer meandering through as well.
Eventually the trail dead ends at an exposed outcropping of rock. This is where you get your 180 degree views!
The drop off is very high so please be cautious around the edges and only go as close as you feel comfortable. There is plenty of room for you to enjoy the views while staying a good distance away if you easily get queasy.
There are social trails on top that lead further along the edges of the mountain to other exposed rock areas. Chances are you have this spot to yourself but on the off chance you don’t there is room to put distance between yourself and other parties.
Sit down, have a snack, and take in the view. Pictures just don’t do this one justice.
After the sun has risen and you’ve gotten your fill of red rock views just retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Final Thoughts On Hiking Doe Mountain Trail
A 4:40 am wake up call was well worth it in August when I hiked Doe Mountain for sunrise. I disperse camped in the area with a friend so we were only 20 minutes from the trailhead. After packing up camp in the dark we groggily drove our way to the parking lot.
Doe Mountain was on my list for quite a while and I can’t believe it took me this long to finally hike it! It is an underrated and easy hike in Sedona that is perfect for sunrise for multiple reasons. I almost hiked it for my sunrise wedding photos but instead chose Bell Rock for logistical ease and less effort. Still, Doe Mountain is popular with elopements and now I can see why.
This definitely won’t be the last time I hike this Sedona trail! Highly suggest it for anyone visiting and wanting to get expansive red rock views with little to moderate effort.
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