Sedona, AZ - Subway Cave in Boynton Canyon Trail


What? :

The Subway Cave is considered to be one of the most popular “Instagram” locations in Sedona, and there is good reason for that, unique cave opening reminding Subway or a huge imaginary keyhole.

The hike is not too long or difficult and you will be visiting the nice and photogenic Subway Cave.


This is a 4.75-mile-long hike with almost no climbing (except the cave itself) and it took me 2 hours.


When there are many people climbing the cave and waiting in line to take their picture plan for at least 30 min at the cave.



Where? :

The parking lot for this hike is located on Boynton Canyon Road, near the intersection with Boynton Pass Road. This small parking lot can hold about 25 and it get filled early in the morning.

Overflow parking is located on the sideroad of Boynton Pass Road, west of the intersection with Boynton Canyon Road. You need to park out of the road and still need to display on your window a Red Rock Pass in your vehicle. From here you need to walk to the trailhead.


Google Map Link



When? :

Year round

The best time is spring and late fall when the weather is the best.

On summer day, when it can be VERY hot, you must start as early as you can, most of the pass section of the trail is exposed to sun, come prepared.

At Winter month it can get cold and rainy and even days that the trail is covered with snow.

In hot summer day I do recommend starting your hike early, in the morning the trail has shad and it a lot less hot + you may avoid the crowd.


Due note 1: As in most of Sedona hiking and trailhead parking lots you need to display on your dashboard Red Rock Pass (there is a ticket machines in the parking lot that accept credit) or by presenting America the Great pass.


Due note 2: There is a pay machine and toilet in the parking lot.


Due note 3: The parking is getting full early in the morning, try to come before 8am.


Due note 4: If you want to be the only one in the cave, try to start your hike at sunrise, there where literally hundreds of people going up the trail to the Subway cave when I was walking back to my car.


Due note 5: The climb into the cave may be challenging for some but if you will walk slow and get help almost anyone can do this.



My thoughts:

This is a relatively easy hike without a lot of climbing and the cave view is indeed unique and photogenic.

I was glad that I started my hike early in the morning so I can enjoy the cave, on my hike back I saw many people hiking to the cave.



The visit:


It was a long weekend when I visit Sedona and there where many visitors in town. I decided to be here as early as I can and try to beat the crowd.

I took few early morning (sunrise) pictures of Cathedral Rock and drove to the trailhead.

When I was here at 6:45 the parking lot was half full so I manage to find parking, I saw more cars getting in so you need to be here around 7am if you want to park near the trailhead.


I set my America the Beautiful cart to the car window and start my hike.

It was clear cold April day, not freezing, and I expected it get warmer soon.


You start your hike in the forest heading the direction of Boynton Canyon. After short walk you can see the side trail to Boynton Pass Vortex and Boynton Vista, I did not have the time to visit there.


In the first section of the hike, you need to pass the large Enchantment Resort complex. 

The trail climb to the right side of the creek and once it passes the resort it is returning back down to the creek level, this will be 1.3 mile from the trailhead.


Keep walking on the clear trail that is now following the creek.


After exactly 1.9 mile from the trail head, you will see a clear and wide entrance to a side trail on your right.

I do not know why but there is no sign marking the trail to the cave.

Another indication that you arrive to the turn-out is that you can find on the left side of the main trail a large tree that mark the trail junction.

When I was here there was a large arrow made of woods pointing right.


From the trail junction it is about 0.4 miles, one-way, to get to the base of the Subway Cave.


Start to hike the narrow side trail and you will get into a dense forest of trees and shrubs.

At some point the trail is taking strong right turn, if you are hiking straight, you will pass a small creek, turn right. At this point you need to pass below the fallen tree branch and turn right.


Soon after this turn you will reach the base of the cliff; a good indication you are in the right path will be small sign indicating historic site with ancient ruins.

From here short and easy climb will bring you to the cave base.


Here you have 2 options:

1. Walk up the cave opening rocky sloop directly into the cave. 

It looks challenging but the grip by the red sandstone help to scramble up and climb this short section.


2. Turn to the left and climb through the trees to the cave level, this is a short climb.

Here you need to turn right on the rock ledge to the cave. This is not very high ledge but a fall from here is not fun.

The rock ledge getting narrow as you progress, at the point you need to pass the corner and get into the cave it is relatively narrow so walk slowly.


I was here early in the morning and there were only 2 other people in the cave, once they left, I had the cave to myself, so I manage to take pictures without people.

Before leaving another 2 people got into the cave so this was excellent timing.


On my way back I so many people going up the trail so if you are not here early you will have many other in the cave and taking pictures will consume a lot of time, waiting in line for classical “Instagram” picture.



You exit the cave over the ledge to the right (from within the cave), be careful at the corner where the ledge is narrow and there is high drop-off cliff.

After this section the ledge get wider and soon you can see the small stone wall Indian ruins in the cove.

From here you need to take the trail climbing down to the point below the cave entrance.


From this point you need to walk back the same trail you came in; this will be 2.4 mile all the way to the parking lot.


The relatively easy 5 miles out and back, and the view of the cave, making this trail as one of the popular and rewording hikes in Sedona area.



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