The red rock box canyon of Boynton is considered one of the most scenic in Sedona … which, if you’ve spent some time gawking at the rocks in Sedona, you know is really saying something. For visitors to the Arizona town, Boynton is a great choice because it doesn’t require any backcountry driving to reach — but for locals it has the potential to get a little crowded.
The trail begins at an established trailhead with a decent amount of parking. Head northeast on the Deadman’s Pass Trail, then veer left at 0.1 mile to turn onto the Boynton Canyon Trail. Already, you’re surrounded by some spectacular open views of the nearby rock formations. Straight ahead is Mescal Mountain. Behind you, a narrow finger mesa of Bear Mountain (and Fay Canyon Arch), and to your immediate north, the east wall of Boynton Canyon.
The trail heads toward a luxury resort development here, and at 0.3 mile a spur trail departs to the right. If you want a quick detour, this is the 0.2 mile Boynton Vista Trail, which will take you up onto the red rock and provide some incredible views of the region — as well as a prominent rock formation known as the Kachina Woman. From this vantage point, you may be able to make out some cliff dwelling ruins hidden in the canyon walls — and this is also supposedly the site of the Boynton Vortex.
Head up the side trail or continue heading into Boynton Canyon itself. You’ll climb up a bit, then skirt the edge of the luxury resort. You’ll have a nice view down on the southwestern mansions and general fanciness, while tasteful iron gates will keep your dirty hiker self a safe distance away.
Thankfully, though, while hiking on the trail you can get to enjoy these million-dollar views — and all you had to pay was the few bucks your Red Rock Pass cost you to leave your car at the trailhead! The trail plateaus a bit just before the 0.7 mile and remains well above the resort itself until rejoining the canyon floor at 1.3 miles … so be sure to look back for some of those killer vistas.
North of the resort, it’s just you and the canyon — and if you had any sort of reservations about being so close to fancy houses earlier, all those worries will melt away when you’re surrounded by these incredible red rock canyons.
As you continue north, the canyon walls narrow and the tree cover gets a bit more dense, meaning you’ll have a little more shade on the trail the farther into the canyon you go. This means the views do get a bit more obscured, but you’ll always have some towering red rock canyon walls within sight … or touch.
Just before 1.8 miles, the trail and canyon make a turn toward the west. The walls narrow further here, and the tree cover gets significantly more dense. In many ways, it kind of feels like an entirely different hike!
The trail also starts gaining some significant altitude here, so you’ll be extra thankful for all that shade on hot, sunny Arizona days. It’s steady climbing and hopping over rocks, tree roots, and arroyo beds until you reach the end of the canyon at just past the 3 mile mark.
A very rough use trail does continue from here, following the arroyo bed up to the plateau of nearby Bear Mountain, but signs posted by the Forest Service strongly discourage against this trail, as it is not only dangerous to inexperienced hikers but also causes excessive damage to the landscape.
Head back the way you came, enjoying the unbelievably panoramic views of the canyon you’ll get walking back toward the trailhead.
Very good - the trail is popular and well-maintained. The farther you go into Boynton Canyon, the more narrow and rugged the trail gets, but there are few moments where someone is likely to get lost here.
From downtown Sedona, head west on AZ-89A and take a right on Dry Creek Road. Head north on Dry Creek Road for 2 miles, when it becomes Boynton Pass Road. Make a sharp left at the intersection with Long Canyon Road to stay on Boynton Pass Road. At 4.5 miles from AZ-89A, take a right onto Boynton Canyon Road. In 0.1 mile, a developed trailhead and parking area will be on your right. Display your Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass to park.
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