Finally, a hike crossed off my bucket list for Arizona: the Devil’s Bridge. It took me a while to get there, but I save these special hikes to share with some of my special friends. But, what makes this hike extra special is that it marks halfway through my #52HikeChallenge. A day road trip to Sedona excited my friends who were shortly visiting Arizona and me, which also led to an unexpected and unplanned visit to the city of Flagstaff.
Visiting Sedona is a dream for many tourists within and outside the country, geologists, history nerds (me), and outdoor enthusiasts (also me). It is filled with several hikes and I know for a fact that Sedona’s trails are all beautiful. The Devil’s Bridge trail captured my eye though. For one, it is one of the most photographed hikes in Sedona and all of Arizona. Two, this hike attracts a lot of locals and tourists because the bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in Sedona. It also has spectacular views overlooking Sedona’s vivid red rocks and forested trees.
Don’t be fooled by the name. It isn’t a satanic place to be at — it’s a more heavenly hike to do than it sounds. Though, finding the Devil’s Bridge isn’t as easy as it looks too. A few times, my crew and I were lost and did not know if the bridge was above us at all because it is not visible to the eye when you’re below. Keep on reading more to find out where it is if you’re planning to hike this.
Details about the hike
Devil’s Bridge is located in Coconino National Forest. The trailhead is on an elevation of 4,600 ft and it is 4.5 miles (round trip) long. The elevation gain is 696 ft. It is an out-and-back type of hike. The hike took my friends and me about 2 hours to complete it. It is recommended to carry at least a gallon of water for this hike.
Since my friends and I did this hike in June, the temperature ranged from the high 90’s. Bringing a lot of water and salty snacks is also recommended to avoid heat exhaustion/stroke.
It’s a long walk from the parking lot to the actual climb.
When you first arrive and park your car to the parking lot, the trailhead will be located right past this gate when you first swoop into there. As you walk past the gate, you will enter in a rocky and dirt-filled roadway, which is designed for cars that can drive 4×4 (4-wheel drive). My friends rented a red 2019 Jeep Wrangler for our trip, but we decided not to off-road all the way through the roadway since it is just a rental and it is very, very rough and rocky.
On this roadway, you will see a lot of other cars drive on there and ATVs roam around. Be careful and make way for these vehicles. If you did have a 4×4 car and wanted to save time, you can off-road through the whole roadway and drive close to the entrance of the Devil’s Bridge climb. However, I personally still think it’s fun to walk this whole way to get more of a workout.
The climb to Devil’s Bridge involves steep staircases made of rocks.
After seeing the sign of “Devil’s Bridge” and “Red Rock Mtn. Wilderness / Coconino National Forest”, you’ll be in for a surprise. The red rock stairs get steeper and higher and trees come closing in. This climb goes up to 400 feet and is considered moderate to difficult. For a 5 foot nothing girl like me with shorter legs, it definitely took more work to climb up to these rock stairs.
The gradual incline turns to bigger red rocks and then you’re up on a staircase where its surrounding area becomes narrower. At this point, one person at a time should carefully hike up. We stopped by a flat red rock that seemed to look like an overlook before getting to two more staircase climbs to the level of where the bridge was located. This area also serves as a good photography area.
The Devil’s Bridge will be hard to find, but it is there.
After stopping by that overlook and with no pre-downloaded map to refer to (I turned off my AllTrails app off because my phone’s battery was dying and an app was draining it more — though, this is NOT recommended. Always bring a portable battery and have a map in front of you at all times.), we were confused where the bridge was located. But, with the determination and support of my friends, we decided to climb another level of the staircase.
We found an area with cliffs towering above us. It almost represented a canyon and we took several photographs under this area with its formations that looked so mesmerizing. To the very left of these cliffs, you will find a sign that points where the hike extends to and that is the direction you should go in further to find the bridge at 0.71 mile. You should walk a couple hundred more feet and then climb a little more of the staircase, then on you will find the bridge to your left.
And when you find the bridge, it’s incredible.
You will arrive parallel to the bridge. While walking to make your way to the bridge, I highly recommend you stay closer by the plants and far away from the edge. I tried to climb on the layers of the rocks to my furthest right to avoid from getting closer to the edge (I have a fear for getting too close to the edge on an elevated area).
Since this is a very popular hike, you will probably see other people waiting to get their pictures taken on the bridge. Most hikers will be very respectful and can wait. Luckily, when I went, we did not have a line of people up there with us waiting to get on the bridge. It’ll be a very cool shot when you ask someone parallel to the bridge to take a photo of you on it as it captures the incredible formation of the arch and a panoramic view of Sedona’s landscape.
It’s a nerve-wracking walk on the bridge, so use your sharp senses and coordination when you walk on it. And if you’re brave enough to walk to the end like my friend David did, then you really are a trooper.
Desert plants are amazing to witness throughout this hike.
This hike had reminded us of how diversified nature is because, throughout it, you will come across a variety of plants: cactus flowers, tall desert agaves, foothill yuccas, manzanita bushes, banana yuccas, and more.