If you find yourself near Sedona, AZ, and you like to explore the Arizona desert terrain on foot, you must visit Cathedral Rock!
Cathedral Rock is a short but steep ascent, approximately 1.5 miles round trip, with a gain of 600 feet. It’s well worth the uphill climb when you get to enjoy the incredible views that are to be had from some of the saddles!
The first part of the hike is an easy to moderate walk leading to an overlook area that boasts a great view of the valley. This part of the climb is wonderful for everyone, and is a great, short hike if you just want an easy excursion. The next part of the hike is classified as a class 3 climb, which is basically scrambling up somewhat steep rock faces (it’s an easy climb for an experienced hiker). This is recommended for older children and up, but our 8 year old did it with no problems. For some, the difficult part of the climb is not the scrambling up, but the climbing (or skidding) back down the red sandstone. 🙂
Cathedral Rock is touted to be a superior place to experience the majestic Arizona sunrises! It is suggested that you start out about 45 minutes before sunrise to make sure that you get to a good vantage point. Then, just sit back and enjoy the show!
My guys climbed Cathedral Rock with another fulltime family, and the group consisted of 4 adults and 8 kids. They had a great time, and were able to check out some bee’ hives up close. There are lots of drop offs, so this, like many mountain hikes, could be dangerous for kids that don’t listen to instruction. Our group also did some geo-caching on the mountain. They had a great hike!
Also in the area is The Templeton Trail; a trail that does not go onto Cathedral Rock, but happens to intersect the Cathedral Rock trail down at the bottom of the mountain. If you take this trail to the right, it leads to into a forest of deciduous trees; if you continue to follow the path, it will lead you to Oak Creek. We didn’t do this trail, but it sounds beautiful!
If you are heading to Cathedral Rock, be sure to wear shoes with good traction, and bring a jacket for shady areas or if it takes you longer coming down the rock than you anticipated. Bring a water bottle (or several if you are hiking in the summer), and definitely do not forget your camera!
The whole valley is a magnificent place to explore – from lots of tourist shopping and dining for non-hikers (or after your done with your climb!), to several excellent hikes with varying degrees of difficulty. We didn’t get to explore the Sedona area nearly as much as we would have liked! We can’t wait to return and explore some more!