Hike up rugged sandstone ledges to the lofty saddles of Cathedral Rock or admire the views of this landmark rock formation from all over Red Rock Country. A well-known sight on the Sedona skyline, Cathedral Rock is a breathtaking formation of redbed sandstone. Spend some time watching the rock’s mesmerizing red tones changing as the sun moves across the sky and take photographs of the landmark in different lights. Lace up your hiking boots and take the short but steep trail that winds upward into the gaps between the towering columns of rock.
The Cathedral Rock Trail begins at a flat and well-marked trailhead. After 0.25 miles (400 meters), you’ll reach a broad ledge that offers stunning views back across the sandstone canyon and riverside vegetation. The next part is a steep ascent over the bare rock and a cleft with notched steps to assist with the climb.
Make your way across a series of ledges and climb to the saddle that lies between Cathedral Rock’s two main spires. Catch your breath under the shade between the rocks and take in the panoramic views around Red Rock Country. You’ll see a stunning vista of the craggy sandstone canyon and the fascinating patterns in the rock’s formation. Follow the same trail for your descent to complete the 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) round hike.
The hike’s trailhead is situated by Back O’ Beyond Road. Extend your walk by joining up with the longer Templeton Trail. This hike skirts the base of the rock and features deciduous forest and Red Rock Crossing, a magnificent spot on a flat bed of red rock where you can photograph Cathedral Rock against the lush riverside vegetation. There are also good views from Baldwin Trail, another adjoining pathway.
There is little shade on the Cathedral Rock Trail, so be sure to protect yourself from the sun and bring plenty of water. Hike the trails between fall and spring to avoid the heat. Enjoy the views from afar at any time. You will need a Red Rock Country pass to park your car at the trailhead, which is 38 miles (61.2 kilometers) south of Flagstaff.