How to Hike to The Subway Cave in Sedona (Very Simple Guide)

The Subway Cave is considered one of Sedona’s most beautiful “secret” spots, and for some reason I’ve seen a number of people say that it’s tough to find, let alone hike to. The truth is, it’s not.

In my case, I found it on my first try effortlessly and because of that decided to write this simple guide for you just in case the other sources out there aren’t good. It’s really not that difficult and if you follow the instructions I’m going to give you, you’ll get there easily. Let me give you some basics first:

Quick info on Sedona’s Subway Cave:

how to find the subway cave in sedona

  • Full name of the spot: The Subway Cave in Boyton Canyon (Sedona).
  • Hiking distance: 3 miles (one way) to reach the cave from the trailhead.
  • Is it easy to find? With the right directions, yes.
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Is it really secret? No, you’ll likely run into other people there.
  • Is it dangerous? For the most part no, but go with how you feel.
  • Hike rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Do I recommend this hike? Absolutely! It’s very stunning there (and around it too).

This is the quickest overview of the spot, but from this point forward, we’re going to get into the details.

Here’s how to find the Subway Cave in Sedona (step by step directions):

1) First, you’re going to want to input “Boyton Canyon Trail” into your GPS:

This is important. Boyton Canyon is where the Subway Cave is located, but it’s large and you have to start at the right trailhead.

If you don’t input the right starting point, your GPS might lead you to the wrong area/trailhead. The Boyton Canyon Trail is the right spot to start this hike at. I’ve added a GPS link there just in case.

This place is a fairly large parking lot and you will have to pay a fee to enter ($5 per day pass). I would recommend you come here early, if not on off season. In my case, I came here right after finishing the Devils Bridge hike and I was fortunate to literally find 1 spot left open (and this was around 11 a.m).

start of subway cave hike boyton canyon trail 03

2) Next, you’ll want to start at the Boyton Canyon Trail and Deadman’s Pass trail (look for the sign):

The trailhead is very close to the entrance of the parking lot (across the kiosk to buy day passes).

Once you see the sign, make sure you go right. I’d also recommend taking a picture of the trailhead map and/or downloading the map in Alltrails (the Subway Cave one is there too).

If you go left (on the side where the kiosk is), it’ll take you to connecting trail called Aerie (you don’t want that).

3) Make sure to continually follow the signs that say Boyton Canyon Trail:

hiking boyton canyon trail to subway 04

You’re going to see several sign posts for Boyton Canyon during your 3 mile hike to the Subway Cave.

1) The first one is about 200 feet from the trailhead where you start. It splits with Boyton Canyon going left (where you will want to go) and Deadman’s Pass which goes right (totally different trail).

2) The second one is about another 200 feet from the first and it splits left and right. The left continues into Boyton Canyon Trail (again, this is where you will want to go) and the right goes to Boyton Vortex Trail (it sounds the same but it’s not where you want to go unless you want to do a side trip).

You’re going to be on the Boyton Canyon Trail for about 2 miles. You’ll know you’re going in the right direction if:

  • You continually stick to following the signs for Boyton Canyon Trail (basically stay to the left).
  • You’ll pass by a neighborhood on your left for about 1/2 miles.

4) About 2 miles in, look for the “crocodile tree” on Boyton Canyon Trail (this is what takes you to the Subway Cave:

crocodile tree boyton canyon to subway cave 05

This is key.

As you continue to hike on Boyton Canyon trail, you’ll eventually come across a pretty big tree (that I’ve included an image of for reference) whose bark will look like the scales of a crocodile (hence the name).

It will be the only tree of it’s kind in the area and it’ll also be a fairly open section of the trail.

If you stay to the left, you’ll continue to go into Boyton Canyon (don’t do that, unless you want to see other sights other than the cave).

Note: As you get closer and closer to the crocodile tree, you’ll come across others that look like it, but from what I’ve seen, they are either small or in large numbers. The right one you’re looking for is:

  • The only on the trail.
  • It’s about 2 miles into Boyton Canyon from where you start.
  • It’s way larger than the other look alike trees before it.
  • Also once you enter the new path, you’ll see a sign on a tree indicating you’re entering wilderness areas.

5) Turn right at the crocodile tree and continue along the new trail for about another mile:

following wildnerness trail to subway cave 06

This trail isn’t as clear cut as the one you’ve been on so far, but it’s still clear enough to follow. You’ll basically be following it in a zigzag motion and it’ll be going north for the most part.

There will be one part of that particular trail where you may get confused and I’ve included a picture to show you that exact spot and how not to get lost.

Basically the trail will take you close to a creek and do an almost 180 degree turn (make a right turn basically).

Make sure to make that right turn and continue because there is another trail across the creek that may look like it’s the right way to go (It’s not).

6) Keep following the trail until you reach the Subway Cave:

sedona subway cave

Again, it’s not that far from the moment you make the right turn by the crocodile tree and there’s a good chance that:

  • You’ll either see other people on this specific trail.
  • You’ll hear people’s echoes inside the Subway Cave (indicating you’re close).

Once you reach the cave itself, there’s a bit of a scramble to get to the top. The scramble to me was pretty easy but it’s recommended you wear good hiking shoes here to reach the top (basically inside of the cave). I wore the Salomon Speedcross 5 here and it was perfect.

Once you’re up at the top, there’s a good chance you’ll also see other people there and may have to wait your turn to take the same picture I did. Luckily most if not everyone who goes there is polite, takes turns and if you’re alone will take your picture if you ask nicely.

7) Bonus! Finding the Indian ruins near the cave:

how to find indian ruins near subway cave in boyton canyon 07

About 100 feet from the cave itself is an old Indian ruins that’s a small cave with man made rocks stacked on top of each other. To get there, you have 2 options:

Option 1: Go back down the same path you climbed up to get to the cave, then right at the bottom, turn right and stay close to the canyon walls until you see a path up.

Option 2: Take the right side of the cave to the end. It’ll turn right and take you around the rock wall.

Keep following it until you reach the same Indian ruins. This option will take you closer to the edge of the cliff/canyon and if you’re not a fan of heights, I would suggest you go with option 1.

8) Heading back:

Once you’re done sightseeing and taking pictures, just backtrack your way to Boyton Canyon trail (the parking lot). If you have extra time, you can explore more of Boyton Canyon if you want.

And there you go! Enjoy the Subway Cave hike!

boyton canyon subway trail map 01

I would recommend you take your time with this hike and enjoy the journey there, not just the end point.

The views on this trail are amazing and it’s something where you’ll want to stop many times to take picture and enjoy the scenery!

Here is an additional map I included from Google that shows the turns and how to go about this particular trail when you go.

Just remember there are other options along the way but if you’re in a hurry and just came there to see the cave, follow the instructions.

I hope this guide was helpful to you and that you find the cave without any issues!

Just in case, here’s a video on the same topic. It was one of the better videos I saw that helped me find this cave, although certain directions I had to kind of fill in the blanks myself.

Anyway, thank you for reading this guide and I do hope it was truly simple enough for you to use and to find that awesome cave in Sedona!

sedona things to do tripadvisor post 02

More stuff to see in Sedona (because of course there’s more!):

I was in Sedona for only a day and a half and even though I got to see and do a lot, let’s be honest, this region is so stunning with tons of hikes and activities that even if I kept at the pace I did, I’d need 2 weeks to see enough to be considered a TON.

Therefore if you plan on coming here, whether it be the hike or whether to see even more Sedona hikes, check out Tripadvisor here ahead of time to plan a trip there.

If you have any questions, let me know below!

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8 thoughts on “How to Hike to The Subway Cave in Sedona (Very Simple Guide)”

  1. It looks like a fantastic hike, but I’d want to point out that your directions are excellent! When I go on a trek, this is the degree of detail I wish I had! When you come across a path that isn’t clear, the arrows on the marked-up photographs make it much easier to determine which way the trail should go. Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for saving the lives of so many lost hikers!!

    Elke

    Reply
  2. Wow, the hike definitely looks amazing, but mostly I want to share that you have done a fantastic job with the directions! This is the level of detail that I wish I had when setting out on every hike!! The marked-up photos with directional arrows are so helpful for when you come across ambiguous paths and can’t quite figure out which way the trail goes. Thank you so much for preventing a lot of lost hikers!! 

    Reply
  3. Very detailed description and so helpful! We have Arizona on our bucket list and eventually want to hit all 50 states. This will be so helpful when we visit and having a friend who has been to Sedona before to offer recommendations and must-sees! We love hiking at the national park next to our house so I know we will have to do this when we go!

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