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Soldier Pass Trail

Soldier Pass Trail Fast Facts

Length: ~ 4 miles

Elevation gain: 620 ft.

Type: Out and Back

Dogs: Yes, on a leash

Approximate time to hike: ~2-3 hours

Red Rock Pass: Required.

Parking:Soldier Pass Trailhead


About Soldier Pass Trail and the hike to Soldier Pass Cave

Starting from Soldier Pass Trailhead along Forest Service 9904 Rd, enter the trail right next to a gate marked for off-road vehicles. Be sure to read the posted safety information before starting out on Soldier Pass Trail. The trail is very well marked and heavily trafficked, so it shouldn’t be too hard to navigate. If you’re ever not sure where to go next, be on the lookout for cairns that mark the way. Soldier Pass Trail brings you through Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole, Seven Sacred Pools, and Soldier Pass Cave before finally ending at Soldier Pass.

 

Hiking Soldier Pass Trail

After hiking for about a quarter of a mile, you’ll come across Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole, known to some local hikers as the “Grand Piano.” The Sinkhole was created by water eroding rock underground, which eventually causes the surface to “sink” into the earth. After hiking for another ¼ mile, you’ll come across the Seven Sacred Pools, which is a sacred gathering place for indigenous people and vital source of water for the area’s wildlife.

Just after the Seven Sacred Pools you’ll find a turnoff to Soldier Pass cave. The turnoff is not very well marked, so pay careful attention for the logs, stones, and national forest wilderness sign that mark the entrance. Also, you should only attempt to make it to the cave if you’re comfortable scrambling up very steep rock and have appropriate climbing shoes. This part of the trail is not marked, making it easy to get lost. We recommend downloading a trail map before heading out, so you know exactly where to go.

Once you’ve made it to the point where you can see two arches in the rock, you’re nearly to Soldier Pass Cave. The left arch is the easiest to make out from a distance, but the right arch is where you can enter the cave. Once you’ve made it to Soldier Pass Cave, be sure to explore both of the chambers, and try to get a classic photo in the “window” carved into the side of the rock, overlooking the valley below. 

After you’re done exploring the cave, retrace your steps back to the main trail where you entered the path to the cave. From there you can continue on the trail up and over Soldier’s Pass, or call it a day and head back the way you came to the parking lot. 

Note: there is an alternative route to Soldiers Pass Trail via the Jim Thompson Trailhead.

Quick Tips to Hike Soldier Pass Trail

  • The trail is marked as moderate and can be very rocky at times, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes. If you’re going to the cave, take extra care to wear the proper footwear.
  • It’s easy to get lost along the way to the cave, so we recommend downloading a map or two before you head out.
  • There isn’t a ton of canopy coverage along this trail, so be sure to bring the proper sun protection and pack plenty of water.

 

Photography pro tips

Soldier Pass Trail is a very scenic trail that offers plenty of opportunities for Instagram-worthy photos. We recommend planning some extra time to stop and take photos at the Seven Sacred Pools and Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole, and urge you to take the extra time to go to the cave. The photos from inside the cave are incredible, and the window overlooking the valley below is one of the best spots for a photo in Sedona.

 
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