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"2 months old?!? Wow, good for you!! Get them started early!"
The reaction was always the same as other hikers stopped to ask about our son, who was snuggled onto Mom's chest with an Ergo. We wholeheartedly agree with our fellow hikers - we want to get our children outdoors as early and as often as possible in an effort to instill a lifelong love of nature in them.
If you feel the same way, Sedona, Arizona is an excellent place to go for a family holiday while your child is still a baby. It's dramatic, towering red rocks are the reason USA Today named it America's most beautiful place. You will discover it is filled with many easy hikes that a family with a baby can enjoy together. These were some of our favorites:
Bell Rock Pathway
Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte are two of the most stunning rocks in Sedona and the Bell Rock Pathway is a great way to enjoy their beauty. The hike begins in the Bell Vista parking lot, located between Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. There are several pathways you can take, but the most popular is the Bell Rock Pathway due to its amazing views of Bell Rock. You don't even need to do the whole thing as the views are great everywhere. The trail is nice and flat with little elevation gain.
You could take your baby in a stroller if it was equipped with wheels which can handle a gravel pathway with a few rocks here and there. If your baby is walking, expect them to get dirty due to the red shale gravel on the pathway. And despite having trees around, this hike is mostly open to the sun, so take steps to protect your baby from the strong Arizona sun.
West Fork Trail
This is the most popular hike in the region for good reason. It closely follows Oak Creek with dramatic canyon walls looming overhead. Despite its popularity, it has a very small parking lot, so get there as early in the day as you can.
This trail features multiple creek crossings with no bridges, so bringing a stroller will be impossible. You will need a baby carrier or wrap and a good sense of balance to cross the creek using nothing but stepping stones - the water isn't very deep. Being in a canyon means that you will be afforded reasonably good (but not complete) protection from the sun, making this a good hike for a hot day.
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Located just outside the Village of Oak Creek, this hike provides beautiful views of Cathedral Rock, especially at sunset. This hike is on a real hiking trail, so a stroller is not a good idea due to the amount of rock steps, etc. you will encounter. This hike is well treed and will provide some relief from the sun in the morning and afternoon, but the trees are not tall enough to protect you from the hot midday sun. It is nearby Oak Creek, so if you have enough time and energy you can walk to the riverbed and enjoy some time by the water.
Fay Canyon Arch
This hike was one of our favorites. Located 10 minutes northwest of Sedona, this easy hike leads into a beautiful red rock canyon which features a natural stone arch (although the arch is not as impressive as the Devil's Bridge and is hard to find). We don't recommend a stroller as there are many rock steps along the path. Due to the canyon walls and tree cover, this is one of the better protected hikes from the sun.
The path to the archway is an offshoot from the main trail, but it is not marked and not easy to find. There are several side paths to choose from; the correct trail is marked by rock steps, while the incorrect ones have been blocked off by tree limbs etc. The path to the arch is short, quite steep and hard work, but the views of the canyon are worth it. Prepare to be underwhelmed by the arch though...
Conveniently located just outside Sedona, this easy hike offers great views of the town and the towering red rocks in the distance. This trail is too rocky & uneven for a stroller of any kind, making a baby carrier or wrap a must. There are trees along this trail which will afford some shelter from the hot sun, but the protection will be limited at mid-day.
Sedona View Trail
This hike is also very close to town, beginning in the airport parking lot. This short and easy hike offers sweeping views looking north over the town and the towering red rocks behind the town. The tree cover on this hike will not offer much protection from the hot sun. You could use a stroller with big wheels, but due to the narrow path and lots of rocks in the path, a baby carrier is probably better.
Bonus Hike - Devil's Bridge
This is much more difficult hike than the others, but if you are a serious hiker with the ability to carry your baby for a longer period and up steep trails, the family pictures you will get at the top will be one of your favorite keepsakes from your trip to Sedona. This is a popular hike, so there should always be people up there to take your family picture on top of the Devil's Bridge.
Due to the uneven, rocky and steep nature of the trail, do not attempt to bring a stroller. Bring a carrier which gives you good balance and hiking boots with good grips.
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