Kachina Tree Cave

Kachina Tree Cave


Mileage: 3.5
Elevation gain: 791 feet
Time to complete: 2-3 hours
Stars: ★★★★
Difficulty: 3/5 (Ratings explained)
Very steep sections, bushy

If the Subway Cave is far too crowded for your taste, try Kachina Tree Cave instead. Beginning from the same trailhead, this hike goes steeply up a drainage to a cool opening in the rock (it’s not really a cave) that you can walk through to a nice view of Boynton Canyon.

As with many places in Boynton Canyon, there are archaeological sites in this area that are of great significance to modern Native Americans and an important piece of our American history. Please do your part to respect and preserve these irreplaceable sites by staying off any structures, leaving artifacts where they lay, and not touching wall art.

Trail Description

This trail begins at the Boynton Canyon Trailhead, which is the same trailhead that is used to access the ever popular Subway Cave. As such, the lot fills very quickly, and you may have to park along the road. Take heart, though, you’ll be leaving the crowds behind soon enough.

Deadman’s Pass Trail

From the trailhead, you’ll start on the Deadman’s Pass trail for a short distance until a well-marked junction with Boynton Canyon Trail.

Boynton Canyon Trail

The Boynton Canyon Trail starts out skirting the outside of the Enchantment Resort as it passes popular attractions like the Kachina Woman and the Boynton Canyon Vortex.

Just after you pass the Enchantment Resort, you’ll see a faint use trail that goes into a drainage on your left. We pretty much followed the drainage up most of the way, looking for existing paths used by others as much as possible.

Important As soon as you branch off the main trail, you’ll be passing very close to private property, so stay in the drainage or to the right side to avoid trespassing. This is only an issue for a short time until you get farther up the drainage. Check your map whenever you’re unsure.

The drainage leading to Kachina Cave

Occasionally, you’ll see faint paths that leave the drainage temporarily and may provide easier ways to get above rocky or brushy areas of the drainage. It’s straight up steep most of the way, though, so don’t be fooled by the short distance. You’re gonna be huffing and puffing a bit on this one.

Kachina Tree Cave

When you get to the point where the canyon walls go straight up and it looks like you might arrive at a saddle within a notch, take heart. You’re nearly there! You’ll see the opening that contains the tree on your right, but you’ll want to keep going up a little more to get to more level ground where you can then make your way over to the opening.

You made it! And then you’ll probably wonder, “I thought this was a cave.” Well, I didn’t name it, but you’ll still be glad you came.

Go through the opening and out to the ledge for a nice view down Boynton Canyon. Then, if you’re feeling adventurous, follow the ledge on the left side around a few more turns until you get too scared to continue. You will be rewarded for your effort.

The ledge beyond Kachina Tree Cave

Return to the trail the way you came, and go ahead and feel satisfied that you’re not joining the hordes of people you’ll see heading to the Subway. You’ve been places they can only dream of.

Map & Directions

Location Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, Sedona, Arizona

From Highway 89A, go north on Dry Creek Road in West Sedona. That will turn into Boynton Pass Road. Keep left at the fork. Turn right onto Boynton Canyon Road. The Boynton Canyon Trailhead will be on your right. This is a very popular hike, so go early enough to find parking or allow extra time to park on the street.

Fees/Passes Red Rocks Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required. Pay kiosk at the trailhead.

Trailhead Facilities Pit toilets

Download KML or GPX

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Disclaimer Outdoor activities have inherent risk, and we will not be able to tell you all the risks you may face. You are responsible for your own safety, so prepare as well as you can and know your limits. Follow this guide at your own risk. And have fun!

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