Sedona is filled with so many hikes that it can be overwhelming sometimes. If you are looking for a short trail that is also rewarding, this is the one for you. The Cathedral Rock hiking trail is considered challenging amongst most but is also only 1.2 miles long. This hike will take you vertically to one of the best viewpoints in the park. Hiking boots are highly recommended for this one. The vortex the rocks create here is powerful according to some, so you won’t want to miss it.
In this guide, I will go over the extra details you will want to know before making your way along the Cathedral Rock hiking trail.
Where is the Cathedral Rock Located?
Cathedral Rock is located more towards the Southwestern corner of Sedona. This specific trailhead has 2 parking lots that are first come first serve but not Thursday- Sunday. On those days the parking lot will be closed and you will have to take a shuttle to the trailhead. Below I will go over your options in more detail.
If you plan on flying out of Phoenix, check out these other hikes near Phoenix that you might enjoy!
Cathedral Rock Parking Lot
If you are coming to do this hike during the earlier portion of the week, then you should head to Back’O’Beyond Road. Here you will find two parking lots.
When visiting on the weekend, you will need to head to 1294 SR 179 which is right down the road. This shuttle is completely free and won’t take long to arrive at your desired trailhead.
If you want to look at this shuttle schedule, as well as others, then you can head to their official website here.
How to Get to Cathederal Trailhead
This hike is similar to the Devil’s Bridge hike in which it has two different trails that you can start on to get to the final spot. If you are looking for the quickest point-to-point, then you will want to head to the parking lot on Back’O’Beyond Road.
Baldwin Trail to Cathedral Rock
Reaching Cathedral rock from his route will add a couple of miles but it is totally worth it. This trail will take you along the creek for a little less than a mile. Afterward, it will start winding around leading you toward the base of the hike. From here on it will be the same difficulty and steepness as mentioned previously above.
If you want to take this trail instead, then you’ll want to head to Baldwin’s crossing. Type Baldwin Trailhead parking lot on your GPS and it will take you right to it.
Best Places to Stay in Sedona
- Sky Ranch Lodge: One of the most reviewed accommodations in the area, Sky Ranch Lodge is a fantastic location with plenty of amenities.
- Sky Rock Sedona: A great deal for the area, Sky Rock has some of the best views coupled with a good price per night.
- Hilton Vacation Club: Priced as one of the cheapest places to stay in Sedona, Hilton Vacation Club won’t disappoint.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Sedona
In many parts of Arizona, the summer is an avoid because of how hot it can become. The best and most popular times to visit Sedona are spring (March-May) or fall (Sept – Nov). October and November are considered peak season, so choose wisely.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Cathedral Rock Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 1.2-mile out & back trail. This varies slightly depending on the trail you take early on.
- Duration: On average it will take people 1 hour – 1.5 hours to finish. This depends on fitness level and time at the laguna.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of elevation gain in a short period of time.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 741 feet.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
My Experience on the Cathedral Rock Hiking Trail
We decided to camp out the night before outside of Sedona. It was a perfect night out to do so. We did the Devil’s bridge hike that day and wanted to do one more hike before heading home. The reason we chose the Cathedral rock hike was because of its views plus the short distance.
We started by typing in the location of the trailhead and driving to it. As many others around us soon realized, we were not allowed to drive toward to parking lot past 7 am. We asked where we needed to head, did a U-turn, and made our way toward the shuttle parking lot.
This was only a few short minutes down the road. We waited until the shuttle filled up and then we were on our way to start the Cathedral Rock hike.
Do You need a Beautiful Pass for the Cathedral Rock Hike?
The short answer is no, you do not need the beautiful pass to access this hike. On the other hand, Sedona is really close to some of the most famous national parks in the entire country. There is the Grand Canyon, Bryce National Park, and Zion National Park(just to name a few).
This pass covers the entrance fees to all the National Parks located in the United States. If this is something you could be interested in, then check out the NPS website for more detail.
Cathedral Rock Incline Difficulty
When we arrived off the shuttle, we followed the crowd of people also starting this hike. You will begin by walking on a mainly flat surface for a quarter of a mile. Once past this, it will start to gradually increase in steepness.
There wasn’t much of a line in this first section. It was more of an open area that didn’t seem too difficult at first.
You will know you have arrived at the steepest section of the whole hike because everyone is taking turns going down and up. This section wasn’t really that bad. The small crevice we had to climb up made for a backed-up trail line.
This was quite alright though because it was another gorgeous day in Sedona and I was just glad to be outside.
Arriving at the Top & Drinking Coffee
Right after finishing the steepest section of the entire hike, we then gradually made our way up to the top of the hike. This was only another quarter of a mile or so until the end. This didn’t mean we were out of the clear yet.
The trail will become flattered but you will walk up to a steep section that would require some climbing. We enjoyed this as it kept us on our toes.
Once at the top, we enjoyed the scenery, took some photos, and made a couple of cups of coffee.
Other Activities to do in Sedona
Sedona is a popular tourist area in northern Arizona. There are many hikes to do around the town as well as things located in Flagstaff, just an hour north. You can take a scenic trip in a jeep around Sedona to see the famous red rocks or make a quick trip up to the Grand Canyon. Below are some highly reviewed activities in and around Sedona.
Final Thoughts on the Cathedral Rock Hike in Sedona
I’m not huge into large crowds on hikes and I don’t think many people are. I was nervous about this hike being too packed and is not enjoying it. Boy was I wrong. Once we got past the steepest section, there weren’t as many people around us all the time. When we made it to the top, we easily found a section to ourselves to sit down and enjoy the view. Overall I would highly recommend this hike to anyone as long as they don’t mind a little bit of rock climbing.
Thank you for reading my guide on the Cathedral Rock Hiking Trail in Sedona! I hope this guide gave you some information that can help plan your trip in and around Arizona.