Sedona’s Fay Canyon Trail Has a Surprise or Two

Fay Canyon Trail is an easy 2.5-mile roundtrip hike in Sedona. It was the second hike of the day for us and we actually selected it because it was less challenging. Our expectation for the trail was modest. We thought it was a good way to add a few miles for exercise while seeing an area of Sedona we had not experienced yet.

What we didn’t know at the time was Fay Canyon Trail had some pleasant surprises in store for us.

Luckily, I Brought My Camera

It is not unusual for me to leave my camera behind when we are on an easy hike, but after a short debate with myself, I opted to carry it.

For most of the hike, the trail was a loose rock and dirt path with modest-to-flat elevation. The cottonwood trees provided shade which was nice protection against the sun, but there wasn’t much to look at. These were ideal conditions for a fast pace and we took advantage of it.

Eventually, we arrived at a place with a wooden sign that read “END OF TRAIL”. I realized I had not reached for my camera once since leaving the trailhead parking lot.

Just past the sign, was a natural tower of rocks that was populated with a few other hikers. People were scrambling up the rocks to presumably get a more elevated view of the area.

We decided to check it out.

The short scramble up was fun and did give us an elevated perspective of the canyon. We also noticed that there was a path that continued on and we opted to follow it. We quickly realized we were entering a boxed canyon with extraordinary scenery.

Instinctively, I reached for my camera and snapped a few pictures.

Beyond the Fay Canyon Trail

Based on the footprints and well-worn condition of the path beyond the “END OF TRAIL” sign, it was obvious to us that we were on a well-traveled route. We were not forging a new path or bushwacking through the canyon, but we had certainly continued beyond the point where most people turn around. The trail had changed from a modestly populated trail to a lonely one.

The two of us walked this section of the trail in solitude and awe. We were almost giddy with our perceived fortune. The canyon was stunning. The hike we thought was easy and marginal when we left the parking lot was actually extraordinary!

The Natural Bridge

I don’t know how Gail learned about the natural bridge on the Fay Canyon Trail, but it was definitely a place we wanted to find. Even though she had been told about it, she had no information about how to find it. There were no signs or trail markers directing hikers to it as it is not on the official trail map.

Then, at about the mid-point on our way back to the parking lot, we noticed a path to our left where people were hiking.

From the main trail, the natural bridge is difficult to see. The picture on the left, shows what it looks like from a distance.

I think we noticed other hikers climbing in the direction of this sandstone cliff and made the assumption the natural bridge was at the end of this steep path.

As we climbed closer to the cliff’s edge, the bridge came into focus more for us.

We had found the rock formation interesting and we excited to see it!


The Fay Canyon Trail is a great hike, particuarly if you go beyond the the boundries of the official trail. The add-on trails we took were well traveled and reasonably safe.

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