Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop
Bell Rock is one of Sedona’s most recognizable rock formations, and the hike there is a gorgeous, popular trek. Right beside it is Courthouse Butte, a large formation dominating the landscape south of Gibraltar Rock. This loop hike takes you around both, giving you 6.4 km of incredible views and the chance to appreciate these landmarks from every angle.
This route is busy, so arrive early if you can. There are plenty of extensions that can be made using the huge network of trails in this area. You can hop up Bell Rock, scramble Baby Bell, or venture over to Gibraltar Rock. This trail is suitable for all skill levels and ages.
If you just want to see Bell Rock on a short, easy hike, check out our Bell Rock route guide.
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Route Description for Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop
Bell Rock is one of Sedona’s defining rock formations, and many, many people make the quick trek to the base of the rock each year. Make more of this classic adventure with a loop around Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock, giving you views of these side-by-side features from all angles.
If you want to have even more fun, you can head over to scramble up Baby Bell, hike back via Gibraltar Rock on Little Horse Trail, or start from another trailhead. It’s up to you!
This hike is beginner and kid-friendly, but if you choose to hike partway up Bell Rock there is one section where you’ll need to use your hands a bit. Those with mobility challenges and very young kids may struggle.
The signage in this area is great, but we recommend downloading a GPS track if you’re unfamiliar with the area. There are countless junctions and trails you can roam, so it’s possible to get lost.
You’ll start from the Bell Rock Vista Trailhead. You can also start this hike from the Little Horse Trailhead or the Bell Rock Trailhead. Large agave plants and cacti line your trail as you head left towards Bell Rock. Enjoy the rich, red earth under your feet as you hike across creek beds towards the rock.
You’ll take Bell Rock Pathway as it wraps around Bell Rock. Look for Cathedral Rock in front of you as you come up the west side of Bell Rock.
If you want to take a quick jaunt up Bell Rock, watch for the trails on your right near the junction with the Bell Rock Loop Extension. Otherwise, continue past Baby Bell (a fun, short scramble if you want a side trip) with Courthouse Butte on your right.
You’ll walk alongside the northern face of Courthouse Butte with Gibraltar Rock to your left, wrapping around to inspect it from all sides as you make your way to the south face. There tends to be less foot traffic on this side, giving you a bit of a break from the crowds that can hover around Bell Rock.
Keep left where Big Park Loop splits off from a 4-way junction. This will take you back across the creek beds and to the trailhead again.
Bell Rock is a butte near Sedona, Arizona, in Yavapai County. It’s one of the most recognizable features in the city, with a dome-like silhouette rising beside Courthouse Butte. The top of the butte sits at 1,499 m, and the incredible view from the rock makes it a popular hiking destination.
Sitting next to Bell Rock in Yavapai County near Sedona, Courthouse Butte is a recognizable sedimentary rock formation. There are many hiking trails that circle the base of Courthouse Butte, and it’s often explored in addition to the more popular Bell Rock. The top of the butte is at 1,662 m.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it called Courthouse Butte?
Local legend says that Courthouse Butte was originally going to be named Church Rock because of its symmetry and proximity to Bell Rock. Cathedral Rock would have been named Courthouse Butte. Apparently, the names were swapped to more closely match the shapes of the rocks.
Is there a vortex at Bell Rock?
There is said to be a vortex at the rock. See if you feel any special energy while you’re there!
Is it hard to hike Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte?
Nope! This is a moderate hike with clear trails and no technical demands. The elevation gain is very modest.
Insider Hints for Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop
- This is a great sunrise hike!
- Bring lots of water if you’re hiking between June and September. While this is a short trail, Sedona can get very hot.
- Planning a trip to Sedona? See if you can get a reservation at the excellent (but very busy) Elote Cafe.
Getting to the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Trailhead
The trailhead for the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop is at the Bell Rock Vista Trailhead off Highway 179.
Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Elevation Graph
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Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Reviews
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