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Hiking the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona

Although the Devil’s Bridge trail takes the cake as my top hike in Sedona, hiking the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldier Pass Trail is a very close second place.

This hike is also home to the Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole and a not so secret, Instagram famous cave.

The trail itself is relatively flat, well kept and features three worthy ‘points of interest’ along the way. It’s difficult to find a hike with so many interesting geological formations over such a short stretch of trail.

On top of those three unique stops you’ll be immersed in top notch red rock views and the lush vegetation of the Coconino National Forest!

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Views from a fork in the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldiers Pass Trail

In this post I’m going to cover everything you should know before hiking from the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldier Pass during your trip to Sedona. I’ll cover useful tips like when to arrive at the trailhead and where to look for the Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole along the way!

You’ll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I’m still happy you’re here!

Where is the hike to Soldier Pass Sedona located?

The trailhead for hiking from the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldier Pass is conveniently located on the north side of town, directly between West Sedona and Sedona. Follow Soldier Pass Road north through a residential part of town and you’ll eventually reach the trailhead parking lot.

Most of the hikes in Sedona are located in close proximity to town and this trail is no exception.

If you’re still searching for accommodations, keep in mind that hotels in the Sedona area typically book up far in advance. The town really wasn’t built to sustain the amount of visitors it sees each year. Your best bet is to browse hotel deals here or check a home sharing service like Vrbo.

Is hiking Soldier Pass worth it?

Okay I’ll get to the big three stops along this trail in a moment, I promise! But first I need to take a second to call out the beautiful scenery along the way.

The vegetation through this area is particularly dense and diverse. Even without the namesake stops along the way this would still be a popular hike because it’s so beautiful the entire way out.

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This hike is one of the best places in Sedona to get up close and personal with the landscapes

I took the shot above near the Soldier Pass trailhead. It only gets better and more interesting the further you go!

Where is the Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole?

A quarter mile from the Soldier Pass parking lot you’ll stumble across the Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole. This is our first notable stop along the way. The trailhead leads right up to the edge so you literally can’t miss this one.

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Don’t stand too close to the edge when peering down Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole!

If you’re traveling with children be mindful that the area doesn’t have any guard rails. You can walk right up to the edge and the drops are steep.

If you aren’t afraid of heights be sure to peer over the edge to take in the view, the area makes for a cool photo op and a quick stop before we continued on to the Seven Sacred Pools.

The Seven Sacred Pools are located past Devil’s Kitchen

Once you’ve had your fill of Devil’s Kitchen, hop back on the trail and trek onward to the next stop which is the popular Seven Sacred Pools area.

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Don’t stand too close to the edge when peering down Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole!

Was this the most exciting thing we did in Sedona? Not quite!

However, these natural pools of standing water are unique, interesting to observe and the surrounding area is wide open making it an ideal place to stop and soak up the scenery.

Also keep in mind that this is one of the more congested areas of the hike so chances are there will be others looking to take photos of the pools themselves. You might need to hang around and wait your turn, especially if you’re a photographer hoping for a shot without anyone in it.

Also, keep an eye out for Jeeps along the way! Some trails in Sedona share the road with off road vehicles, this is one of them.

After you’ve had your fills of the views here it’s on to the final and longest leg of the hike.

How do I get to the Soldier Pass Secret Cave?

If you’ve been doing your research you probably stumbled upon photos of a really cool cave you can climb up into along this trail, especially if you’ve done that research on social media.

Let’s talk about how you actually get there, then we’ll talk about what to expect when you reach the cave.

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If you keep an eye out for this sign the turn off will be easy to spot!

About a mile after the pools keep an eye out for a tree that has a National Forest Wilderness sign crudely fastened to it. This marks the spot where you need to turn off to the right in order to reach the cave.

Regardless of whether you turn off for the cave or continue on the traditional Soldier Pass trail you’re looking at about a 5 mile (round trip) hike from start to finish.

For any visitors planning to head back after the Sacred Pools and sinkhole, you’ll only endure around 1 mile of hiking.

If you do the cave turn off and complete the traditional trail you’ll be looking at something in the 6-7 mile range.

Is the Soldier Pass hike difficult?

Keep in mind that as you approach the cave the terrain gradually becomes steeper and the footpaths gradually become more difficult to traverse since the path to the cave isn’t an official trail. With that said, there’s nothing dangerous or too difficult about reaching the cave.

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Views from the trek to the Soldiers Pass Cave

As you work your way up to the Soldier Pass Cave be sure to look back and take in the stunning views!

Now that this guide has gotten you all the way to the cave, it’s time to mention an unfortunate reality of this area which is that it struggles with the issue of “Instagram versus reality.”

I’m not bringing this up to deter you, because venturing up into the cave is still a really cool and fun experience. However, keep in mind this secret cave is not so secret and you’ll be sharing the inside with lots of other people.

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The Soldiers Pass Cave can be crowded – expect to wait your turn for a photo

After waiting below for the first hoard of people to clear out, I was eventually able to take my turn. When I made it up, the space was shared with 9 other hikers. A bit crowded considering there aren’t many great places to sit.

While this can be frustrating for those looking to get that perfect Insta worthy photo, I was just happy to have completed the climb up inside so I could check out the views for myself.

Everyone we encountered was super nice, helping each other up, taking photos for one another and patiently taking turns to climb up inside.

Where should I park for the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldier Pass trailhead?

If you’ve read my other blog posts on visiting Sedona I probably sound like a broken record but, I have to bring it up, the parking situation here is arguably the worst of any trailhead in Sedona.

The trailhead parking lot only has 14 parking spaces and they will fill up immediately. The lot is gated and will automatically open at 8am (it closes at 6pm).

We arrived at 7:45am on a Monday morning in April and we were car number 12 lined up outside the gate looking to enter. If you want to do this hike, you must arrive early.

While some trailheads allow overflow parking on the surrounding roads, this is not one of them. If you can’t secure a spot in the main parking lot you’ll likely need to add miles to your day and drop your vehicle elsewhere.

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Views along the Soldiers Pass Trail

Although the parking situation is no bueno and the cave can be crowded, this was still one of my favorite hikes we did during our Sedona stay. Pick a weekday and get an early start to beat the crowds as best you can – you won’t regret it!

Check out these activities available in the area

Looking for more ways to fill out your trip itinerary? Be sure to check out the list of activities below from GetYourGuide.

Learn about my other favorite things to do in Sedona

Be sure to check out my post on visiting the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park area if you haven’t already. Sedona has a storied history when it comes to spirituality. The Native Americans who lived here considered it a Holy place and those who inhabit the area today continue that tradition.

Between the Stupa, Chapel of The Holy Cross, crystal shops and several popular vortices there are a variety of ways to get your spiritual fill.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive Sedona travel guide, I put together a post that tracks all of my favorite Sedona ideas you should definitely check out. I also created a full length Sedona video guide you can watch on my YouTube channel!

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One of the many beautiful statues at the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park

I really enjoyed our visit to the Peace Park. It’s not much of a time commitment (we spent less than an hour here, but some stay longer) which makes it a nice leisurely activity to do after a undertaking a longer hike such as this.

Alternatively, check out the Crescent Moon Ranch picnic area if you’re looking for additional unwind activities during your visit.

Two of my other favorite Sedona hiking areas are Bell Rock and the West Fork trail area. Those are worth checking out during your visit as well.

Hopefully this post covering what to know before hiking from the Seven Sacred Pools to Soldier Pass Trail helps you prepare appropriately for one of my favorite hikes in Sedona!

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