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Name: Templeton Trail Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Hike Difficulty: (challenging) - due to the length (trail is mostly a beginner difficulty)
Time: All day for the entire loop, but you can do as much or as little as you like Region: NW Arizona
Length: 11 miles (loop including the Baldwin Loop, but can be as short as you want) Elevation gain/loss/change: +1304 / -1436 ft / -132 ft (out and back)
Type: modified loop Avg Elevation: 5800 ft
Best time to go: fall, winter, spring Fees: Requires Red Rock Pass. These can be purchased at any Ranger station, kiosks, Circle K's and many other stores in Sedona or Oak Creek.
Fitness rating: High for entire loop; medium otherwise Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: November, 2009
Short Description: This is an awesome hike, especially around the Cathedral Rock area
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Spirit of Sedona; Coyote's Vortex; Top O' Cathedral Rock (almost); Creekside
References / Contact Information: Coconino National Forest website. Templeton Trail
Points of interest: Sedona. Bell Rock. Cathedral Rock. Oak Creek. Unrivaled beauty
Special Considerations: Requires Red Rock Pass. These can be purchased at any Ranger station, kiosks, Circle K's and many other stores in Sedona or Oak Creek.
How to get there: Sedona is about four hours from Tucson (two from Phoenix). There are numerous places to start this trail. You can access Bell Rock Pathway from numerous other parking areas along SR 179. Click here for directions. You can also access this trail from the Cathedral Rock trailhead.

Trail Description

This is a great hiking trail in Sedona, Arizona. This is an easy hike with lots of Sedona redrock and it’s all within a few minutes of downtown Sedona.

General Information and History

The directions described below encompass traveling on parts of three trails in Sedona. The famous Bell Rock Pathway, Templeton Trail and the Baldwin Trail.

The Bell Rock Pathway is the most popular trail in Sedona. It winds its way around, you guessed it, Bell Rock: the most famous of all rock profiles in Sedona. The trail is easy, but crowded on most days. Hikers and bikers use the Bell Rock as a starting point for a Sedona experience. It’s a nice place to start with large parking areas and ease of access.

Templeton Trail connects the Bell Rock Pathway to Cathedral Rock Trail and the Baldwin Trail. Templeton usually isn’t crowded at all. Typically I’ll just see one or two people (near Cathedral Rock). This trail is very nice. You can walk along the stone trail about a third the way up Cathedral Rock itself. After Cathedral Rock, it takes you down a series of steep, narrow switchbacks to Oak Creek. Down along the river is perhaps the most beautiful portion of the ride. In the fall, the huge cottonwood trees along the creek turn colors and the ground is a carpet of brown and gold leaves.

Baldwin Trail is connector trail that loops around a small red rock mountain where you get to experience some of the views of western Sedona.

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The Trail

Although I know it’s not practical, I’ll detail the hike as though you’re starting from the second Bell Rock Pathway trailhead (Waypoint 020) and end up at the main Bell Rock Pathway trailhead (Waypoint 001) to give you enough waypoints so you can start and end from either spot. Head south for 0.3 miles from the parking area (toward Bell Rock) until you reach Waypoint 002 (the intersection with Bell Rock Pathway). Take a left and walk along the pathway for 0.6 miles until you reach Waypoint 003 (keeping to the pathway as other trails lead off to the east). This is the intersection of Templeton Trail. Turn left and go down Templeton.

This first part of the trail takes you down to the new tunnel passing under SR 179 at Waypoint 004. Go through the tunnel and soon you’ll pass through a second new tunnel. As you begin to get closer to Cathedral Rock, you start hiking more on rock than trail (Waypoint 006). Hiking along the rock path along the section about one-third the way up Cathedral Rock is outstanding. Take some time to notice the view down in the valley below.

At Waypoint 007, you’ll intersect Cathedral Rock Trail. Down and to the right is the trailhead parking area, up and to the left is Cathedral Rock. You can hike up Cathedral Rock if you’d like. It’s about a mile roundtrip from this point and takes about an hour. The hike is steep and strenuous, but worth it See Cathedral Rock hike for more information on this hike.

At this point, you have a couple of options. One: turn around and go back the way you came. Two: keep going straight and do the Baldwin Loop. Or, three: take a right and go down Cathedral Rock trail and hike the road back to the Bell Rock Pathway.

The route I’ll describe is to go straight and do the Baldwin Loop, then back to this point and then down the Cathedral Rock trail.

Keep walking on the rock for another one-third of a mile and Waypoint 008 and the start of the switchbacks. Hike down the switchbacks down to Oak Creek. The first few hundred yards under the thick canopy of trees (especially in the fall) is outstanding!

Once you get to the creek (Waypoint 009), the trail follows along the southern edge of the creek. Walk until you get to Waypoint 010. This is the start of the Baldwin Loop Trail. You can go either clockwise or counter-clockwise. We’ve found counter-clockwise is the best way (though this is trip is detailed in the clockwise direction).

Walk along Baldwin trail for almost a mile until you reach Waypoint 011 and continue going straight. Another half a mile and you reach Waypoint 012 and the turnoff to Baldwin Crossing, keep straight on Baldwin Trail. Waypoint 013. After 1.86 miles, you’re back at Waypoint 010 and ready to go back the way you came.

Retrace your hike along the creek until you get to the switchbacks, then continue hiking up to the Cathedral Rock Trail intersection (Waypoint 007). Again, you can go back using Templeton Trail or turn left and go down Cathedral Rock Trail.

Going left and down the Cathedral Rock Trail is steep but nice. Once you get to the Cathedral Rock trailhead parking area (Waypoint 014), turn east and walk along Back O’Beyond Road. Take an opportunity to view some of the spectacular homes along the road. Wow! Very nice.

The intersection of Back O’Beyond Road and SR 179 (Waypoint 015) is now a traffic circle. Follow the circle around to the road on the opposite side. There’s a church on the corner, walk up the ramp to the upper parking area. Keep going east (not into the actual parking spaces) once you reach the top of the ramp. The pavement quickly turns into a dirt road. Follow this to the right to start the Bell Rock Pathway Trail again (Waypoint 016).

Take a left as the trail begins and left again at the power lines. Now you’re on the Pathway proper. Keep walking, staying on the main trail. Not too far away, you’ll see another parking lot for the Bell Rock Pathway. This is another good area to bike the pathway if you don’t want to start from the main trailhead.

Keep going past Waypoints 017 and 018. During this walk along the Bell Rock Pathway, you’ll also hike over a nice wood bridge, then a smaller stone culvert. Fairly soon, you’ll pass the Templeton Trail turnoff (Waypoint 003 on the right) and you’ll be back on familiar ground.

If you started at the main Bell Rock Pathway trailhead, go straight at Waypoint 002 (instead of turning right to go back north to the second parking area). Keep walking along the wide path until you’ve reached the parking area at Waypoint 001.

Have fun and be safe!

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