Hike to the Wilson Mountain Summit - South Overlook

Arizona Wilson Mountain Trail

Added by

A classic view from the "Top of Sedona"! There is no higher nor grander vista anywhere in Sedona (challenging, too)!

Ever wanted to see Sedona from a bird’s eye view? Sure, you could spring for a helicopter tour. Or…you could hike Wilson Mountain Summit! No other location in Sedona will offer you a view that is so expansive and so breathtaking (and one where you are actually looking DOWN on the helicopters giving tours). Granted, no other hike in Sedona is as breathtaking either — literally, this hike will take your breath away. Wilson Mountain Summit is probably the most difficult hike in the area, but honestly, the work is well worth the reward. The view from the top is truly spectacular. 

The 4.75 mile (one-way) journey takes you through an elevation gain of about 2600’. It is a pretty steady climb for the first three miles, after which you’ll reach a short plateau (about .1 miles) before hiking steadily upwards once again. You will travel through some dense oak groves for a bit, before you reach another plateau with classic ponderosa forest landscape (very reminiscent of hiking in Flagstaff – I think of Wilson Mountain as a “Flagstaff Sky Island”). This plateau won’t last long either before you make your final ascent. All together, the hike took my group about 2 hours one way. 

The hike is best in spring or early summer. Fall will start to get chilly (the top of the mountain is at 7,122’), but if you dress appropriately it could be fine. We visited in early June, and had an amazing breeze accompanying us along the way. In fact, in the afternoon we were worried that that “breeze” was going to blow us off the trail! I’m joking, of course. Sort of.

The trailhead is located off of Route 89A, about 22 miles south of Flagstaff and 2 miles north of Sedona. The parking lot is just north of Midgley Bridge on the north side of the road. Parking is very limited. The lot might fit 20 cars if all the visitors are conscientious and you are a bit liberal in your definition of “parking space”. This parking area is quite popular and the lot can be crowded, especially since there are a few popular hikes that originate from this location. If the lot is overflowing and you simply can’t park, you could always try the North Wilson Mountain Trail, a few miles north along Route 89A (I do not think the views along the way up are as good from the North trail, but it does meet up with the south trail for the last ~1.5 miles of the hike).

Pack List

  • Red Rock Pass (~$5)
  • Water
  • Snacks and Lunch
  • Day Pack
  • Hiking Poles
  • Long Pants
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

9.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2600 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

5 months ago

A rewarding view of beautiful Sedona.

One of the harder hikes in Sedona, but definitely worth the view! It can be windy on the summit, so be prepared for cooler temps and don't let your baseball cap get blown off (i had to chase after mine before it was blown off the mountain)!

5 months ago

Added by Jeremy Meek

Construction and sustainability guru by day. Recreational photographer and blogger by night and weekend. I love exploring my home state of Arizona and pursuing adventure beyond its borders.

More Adventures Nearby

Photograph a Grand Canyon Sunset at the Desert View Watchtower

Arizona / Desert View Watchtower

25 miles east of the Grand Canyon Visitor's Center is Desert View, here you will find the Desert View Watchtower and plenty of space to set up a tripod to photograph the sunset.

Edward Webb
1 Saves

Hike to Fay Canyon Arch

Arizona / Fay Canyon Trail

...The hike through Fay Canyon goes 1.25 miles to Box Canyon and is rated easy to moderate. To see Fay Canyon Arch though is a much shorter hike. From Boynton Pass Rd, park at Fay Canyon parking lot.

Derek Mathewson
7 Saves

Photograph Elephant Arch

Arizona / Elephant Arch

...For this very short stroll to Elephant Arch, I'd like to clarify that it's more of a sightseeing and/or photo opportunity trip than a hiking trip.

Derek Mathewson
9 Saves