January 29th, 2021
Location: Sedona, AZ
Distance: 1.2 miles out and back
Parking: Two small parking lots and some street parking
Pets: Yes, but we wouldn’t recommend it
Fee: Yes, $5 Red Rock Pass. Kiosk at trailhead or America the Beautiful Pass works (what we used)
Cathedral rock is a short 1.2 mile out and back hike at the south end of Sedona. The highly popular rock formation can be seen throughout the town and is quite identifiable from the AZ State Route 179.
To get here, enter Cathedral Rock Trailhead into most map applications and it will come up. There are multiple trails that lead to Cathedral Rock, so if you’re looking for something longer or an alternative start – check those out. There are two parking lots at the main entrance off of Back O Beyond Road. A permit is required to park at both! Don’t forget. We saw National Forest Rangers at multiple trails.
In the roughly 0.6 miles to the top, you gain almost 700 feet in elevation. There are basket cairns that help guide you throughout this hike. Lookout for those as they are helpful so you don’t get off trail! It’s steep and in some parts requires close attention to your footing. If there has been recent rain or snow, be mindful of an added layer of sand from eroded rock and run off that makes some of the rocks a little harder to grip.
Once at the top, you’ll see a sign that says end of trail. From here you have 2 options to continue on for great pictures. To the left when facing the sign there is a path that continues behind the rock and up to the vortex. Be mindful of the wind tunnel created by the rock here! You can go down from the top of the vortex and there is a trail that wraps around back to the Cathedral Rock Trail. To the right when facing the sign is a ledge overlooking Oak Creek. It’s a popular spot for photos with what looks like a fake background. Facing west, the top of Cathedral Rock is popular for sunset photos.
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