Fay Canyon Trail, Fay Canyon Trailhead, Sedona: Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness, Arizona

Fay Canyon Trail - 2.15 miles

Fay Canyon Trailhead

Fay Canyon

Fay Canyon

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Round-Trip Length: 2.15 miles (add .4 miles roundtrip to Fay Canyon Arch )
Start-End Elevation: 4,580' - 4,735' (4,735' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +155' net elevation (+187' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Fay Canyon Trail - 2.15 Miles Round-Trip

Fay Canyon is located 4.8 miles from 89A in the Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness of Sedona, AZ. This short, level trail passes through a diversely vegetated flat into the canyon, where it follows a wash to its conclusion at an impassable rock formation.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Fay Canyon is crowned by Fay Canyon Arch, located high along the north wall and accessible by a steep social trail. Visitors will enjoy mild grades and brilliant colors on the Fay Canyon Trail:

The trail follows a manzanita, yucca, and cacti-line path into the canyon, where oak, juniper, and pinyon emerge in greater numbers. The trail levels beside a heavily treed wash to cairns that lead across it; this is the unmarked spur for the arch (.63 miles : 4,642').

The trail continues easily to a marked terminus (1.05 miles : 4,735'), where a large rock formation can be scaled with sensational views back down the canyon.

Finding Fay Canyon Arch
Fay Canyon Arch is located along the north canyon wall, accessible by a steep social trail .63 miles from the trailhead. Locate cairns and cross the wash - you'll quickly emerge in open red rock and climb a well-worn path .2 miles, 180' to its base.

Mid-late morning generally produces the best light, but peak timing will vary throughout the year. The arch may be difficult to see from the trail, as it's positioned only a few feet apart from the wall from which it was carved.

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Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

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  • N34 54.105  W111 51.469 — 0.0 miles : Fay Canyon Trailhead
  • N34 54.439  W111 51.713 — .5 miles : Gentle grade into canyon
  • N34 54.507  W111 51.770 — .63 miles : Cairn-marked spur to Fay Canyon Arch
  • N34 54.773  W111 52.057 — 1.07 miles : Trail terminus
  • N34 54.582  W111 51.674 — Fay Canyon Arch

Worth Noting

  • There are several false spurs to the arch, which branch north up the canyon wall to nice viewpoints and fade. While signs indicate the arch spur is at .4 miles, the actual spur is located .63 miles from the trailhead, and marked by several large cairns.

  • Cryptobiotic soil is a living ground cover comprised of cyanobacteria and varying amounts of lichen, moss, green algae, micro fungi, and bacteria. Cyanobacteria is critical to vascular plants, which are unable to utilize nitrogen as it occurs in the atmosphere. Cyanobacteria converts atmospheric nitrogen to a synthesizable form plants can use, a vital resource for native vegetation. Though microbiotic crusts can reconstitute, it can take a very long time.

  • The rock structure at the base of Fay Canyon Arch is not authentic.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • There are no designated backcountry campsites in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. Dispersed camping is permitted in specific areas past trailheads and roads (see map page to view the PDF). It's advisable to contact visitor services at 928.203.2900 to review your itinerary in advance.

  • Backpackers must be at least one mile from the trailhead, or as indicated by the map or signs at trailheads (guidelines may vary slightly by trail).

  • Backpackers are encouraged to occupy sites used by others, and practice leave no trace ethics.

  • Water is scarce. Plan on carrying all of your own into the backcountry.

  • Campfires are permitted on a seasonal and forest condition basis. Fire restrictions are strictly enforced.

  • Bears and others animals capable of reaching your food inhabit Red Rock Country. Store supplies safely by hanging or using bear canisters.

  • There are 7 developed campgrounds in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness vicinity: Pine Flat, Cave Springs, Manzanita, Chavez Crossing, Clear Creek, and Clear Creek Group Camp. There are at least 186 combined individual sites and 4 group sites.

  • Individual sites range $16-18 per night, and group sites $65-200. Coconino Forest Campgrounds do not accept Credit Cards on site (except Cave Springs). Cash and in-state checks only. Reservations and credit card payments may be made in advance through Recreation.gov or by calling 877.444.6777.

Rules and Regulations

Red Rock Pass - a fee is required to recreate in the Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness:


  • Daily Pass: $5

  • Weekly Pass: $15

  • Annual Pass: $20

The Red Rock Pass is valid for use as a parking permit to recreate in Red Rock Country, including access to Red Rock Country Heritage Sites.
It's not valid for other fee areas such as developed campgrounds, Grasshopper Point Picnic and Swimming Area, Crescent Moon Day Use Area, and Call O' the Canyon (West Fork Trailhead).
Passes may be obtained at all Ranger Stations, Visitor Centers, Online, and at a number of local kiosks and commercial vendors (e.g. grocery stores).

Directions to Trailhead

The Fay Canyon Trailhead is located 4.8 miles from Highway 89A in Sedona, AZ.
From the Highway 179 - 89A split, drive 2.9 miles south on 89A to Dry Creek Road.

Turn right (north) on Dry Creek Road and travel 2.8 miles to Long Canyon Road. Turn left on Long Canyon Road and drive 1.5 miles to Boynton Pass Road. Turn left on Boynton Pass Road and drive .5 miles to the trailhead on the left. The Fay Canyon Trail begins across the road (west side).

Contact Information

Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
Red Rock Ranger District
8375 State Route 179 (just south of the village of Oak Creek)
Sedona, Arizona 86341
8:00 - 4:30 Monday - Friday
Visitor Information: 928.203.2900

Administration Office: 928.203.7500 or 928.282.4119
Coconino National Forest
1824 S. Thompson St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Visitor Information: 928.526.0866
Supervisor's Office: 928.527.3600

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



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