Sedona is full of beautiful backdrops and interesting rock formations, and Solider Pass Cave happens to be one that continues to amaze hikers and photographers. It’s unique shape and windows of light draw in visitors from all over the world. But it can be an easy one to miss.
Unless you know where to go, that is. There are no signs or markings telling you where to turn off to find the cave. I’ve listed, photographed, and marked the coordinates for you in this article so you’re sure to find it. You’ll also get to hike past a couple other favorites in the area such as Seven Sacred Pools and Devil’s Kitchen.
This cave is 1 of 4 amazing caves within the Sedona Wilderness I’ve hiked to. Check out 4 of the best Sedona Caves and how to find them for more!
SOLDIER PASS CAVE STATS
Distance: 3.5 miles O&B
Elevation Gain: 529 ft.
Type: Out and back with loop option
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Location: Sedona, AZ
Trailhead: Soldier Pass Trailhead
For the purposes of this article, the stats are based off of the most direct route to Soldier Pass Cave as an out and back trail.
HOW TO GET TO SOLDIER PASS TRAILHEAD
You’ll begin your hike at the Soldier Pass Trailhead which is located deep within a local Sedona neighborhood.
If you map the directions from the link they will take you through Sedona on 89A, through some neighborhoods, then to the trail parking lot. The parking lot, however, is very small. It hosts maybe 15 parking spots.
If you aren’t lucky enough to sneak into the parking lot you’ll have to park along the main road and walk through the neighborhood to the trailhead. Keep in mind this will add some distance to your overall hike!
Do not try parking within the neighborhood. Cops drive around and you will be ticketed or towed.
PRO TIP: You may also try parking and hiking via Jordan Park Trailhead. Parking can be easier here and it connects to Soldier Pass Trailhead.
When hiking, I always recommend tracking yourself or following an already made track so you can check in and be sure you’re on the right path. Below is a screenshot of my track to Soldier Pass Cave!
Since the turnoff to the cave is not clearly marked on the trail and there are many spur trails that add to confusion, I suggest utilizing a map or following my already made track!
You can download my Soldier Pass Cave hike and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty device for ease of mind!
WHEN TO HIKE SOLDIER PASS TRAIL
Summer temperatures in Sedona still reach scorching highs, so I’d refrain from hiking during the summer (if possible) unless you plan on starting early and ending before late morning.
Winter hikes in Sedona are beautiful and chilly, but fall and early spring are my favorite times to hike in this area. When I hiked to Soldier Pass Cave it was midday in the spring, so I had great sunlight inside the cave. Keep this in mind if you want good lighting for your photos!
The trailhead is only open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. so keep that in mind when you’re planning your hike. This area gets VERY busy during tourist season and there will most likely be Jeep tours happening at the same time along parts of the trail.
HIKING TO SOLDIER PASS CAVE
The Soldier Pass Trailhead begins from the main parking lot and is well marked. To begin you’ll hike down into a wash and cross it, following the trail on the other side. As you continue along you’ll approach a few signs- just keep following along the Soldier Pass Trail.
The majority of this hike is exposed so you’ll want to bring sunscreen and/or a hat. Even if it isn’t summer the Arizona sun can still be brutal. While the main trail is well marked for the majority of the hike, you will come across several other trails that veer off in different directions.
Some of these connect to other trails that go on for miles, and some just lead a few feet off to a viewpoint. Try to take a mental note along the way and stay on the main trail as much as possible.
This even means turning around and paying attention to what things look like coming from the other direction! On the way back I ended up having to refer to my Gaia app because I had accidentally kept hiking along the trail rather then taking a turn when I was suppose to.
There are interconnecting trails everywhere in this area leading to all different places so it is easy to get off track!
PRO TIP: Download and utilize the GAIA App to track yourself along your hikes. That way if you ever get turned around on the way back, you have your tracked route to refer back to.
About 1/4 mile in and you’ll already be at Devil’s Kitchen, a giant, natural sinkhole. The sinkhole is roughly 150 feet wide and goes 50 feet down. The first collapse happened some time in 1969, with a second collapse following in 1989.
The sinkhole isn’t the main destination, but still a really cool one to stop by for a couple minutes!
SEVEN SACRED POOLS
After roughly another 1/4 mile along Soldier Pass Trail and you’ll be at Seven Sacred Pools. This is a very popular spot to photograph along the way if the pools are filled with water.
Keep in mind the pools are not always filled. As you can see in my photo they are dirty and not completely full. Actually only 6 of the 7 had water in them! Expect these to be dried up during the summer unless a monsoon happened to recently come through.
After Seven Sacred Pools, you’ll continue along Soldier Pass Trail until you come across a slight fork (pictured above). The trail is actually a loop trail, but to get to the arch you’ll need to veer off to the right.
It looks like it is blocked off with stones and wood, but this is the point you head off trail since the Soldier Arch and Cave are hidden back a little ways. There is no sign indicating where you fork off so it can be easy to miss.
HELPFUL TIP: The approximate coordinates for the turnoff are below. Plug these into your GPS to be sure you don’t miss the turn!
Not long after you veer off the main trail and you’ll hike out onto a large exposed rock area. At this point it will seem like you’ve lost the trail, but all you have to do is keep going straight and keep to the left.
Once on the other side of the exposed rock area you’ll see the trail again, and keep hiking!
I rated this hike easy to moderate because it is easy until you begin climbing elevation to the cave. Although short in distance, the climb gets steep and will get your heart rate up.
Once you begin climbing elevation you’ll be able to see the Soldier Pass Arch in the distance with the cave back inside of it! Depending on the orientation of the sun you’ll most likely have some shade under the arch.
There will be a spot under the arch where you’ll need to climb up into the cave. About three steps up and you’ll be in! This short climb will be easy for some and a challenge for those who are not used to climbing.
Give it a try and push yourself! You made it this far…and I promise the views inside will be worth climbing up for. If you’re hiking with a buddy or group this is where coming together to help one another can be beneficial.
Once you make it up into Soldier Pass Cave you’ll be able enjoy the benefits of the shade and views from the windows. As you can see it is a lot of fun to photograph this cave!
Once you’ve gotten your run of the cave, you head back down to the trail and follow it until it intersects back with Soldier Pass Trail. Here you can either keep left to head back the way you came or go right and finish the loop.
While you’re in Sedona you might also enjoy a couple other popular hikes. Devil’s Bridge is one of the most popular in the area. It is a moderate 4 mile round trip hike to a natural bridge that you can walk out onto!
Another must see in the area is Cathedral Rock. It is a short 1.2 mile hike but surprisingly steep in a few areas. You’re rewarded with some of the area’s best views at the top which are best viewed during sunset or sunrise.
For a challenging little hike check out the A.B. Young Trail. This trail begins in Sedona and ends in Flagstaff, leading you to an active Wildfire Lookout Tower and great camping area. If you need to cool off you can sit in the Oak Creek afterwards!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SOLDIER PASS CAVE
Soldier Pass Cave has easily worked its way to the top of my “favorite caves” list. While the hike to it isn’t exactly the most inspiring experience, it is still short and sweet with plenty of points of interest along the way.
Not to mention the cave itself is one of the most photographic around! It allows for a true unique experience you won’t get elsewhere.
As always, please be considerate of the environment so we can keep enjoying it and remember to leave no trace.
DIRECTIONS TO SOLDIER PASS TRAILHEAD
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