Planning a visit to beautiful Sedona, AZ? If you are comfortable scrambling up some red rocks, do yourself a favor and check out iconic Cathedral Rock. This is the hike for you if you are looking for something short, steep and to the point.
*If you want to bring your furry friend along please make sure he or she is an experienced hiker and is comfortable with rock climbing. Also make sure you or your fellow hiking companions are able to lift and carry your dog if need be!
- Difficulty: Hard
- Length: 1 mile out and back (super short!)
- Elevation gain: 551 ft
- Dog friendly: Yes
- Trailhead: 500 Back O Beyond Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336
- Highly trafficked
- $3 parking fee in small lot
- Restrooms available at trailhead
We took a road trip to Sedona in March 2017 and although Cathedral Rock was on our list of hikes to do, we were intimidated by what we had heard about it. We weren’t sure that Cosmo could handle the rock climbing bits, so we decided to hold off. I always said that if we went back we would give it a shot, especially after asking some friends about their experiences. 10 months later we were in Sedona again and decided to go for it.
After getting lost following directions to “Cathedral Rock” instead of “Cathedral Rock Trailhead,” we finally searched the right address (listed above) and found two small parking lots. There are not very many parking spaces and this trail can get very busy, so I would recommend going early in the morning or later on in the evening to avoid the crowds. Plus, if you’re there for sunrise or sunset you can practice your sunburst photography like I did!
We started the hike at about 4:40 pm so the sun was starting to set and it was nice and cool. There is a water crossing at the very beginning, but it was only a trickle so we didn’t get our feet wet at all. Then comes a short, windy trail that leads up to the real start of the hike: the rock climbing portion where there is a sign that points the way to Cathedral Rock. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the route because we were hiking fast and furiously 🙂
The “trail” up the rocks is loosely marked by cairns that are set up all along the way. It can get slippery so make sure you’re wearing your best hiking shoes with good traction. There is a lot of open space so you can make your way up wherever you choose if the mail trail is crowded.
The one really tricky part you need to be prepared for is right in the middle. It’s where two huge boulders meet and you have to straddle the crevice they form to make the climb. This is where Comso needed a lift. I climbed up first while Adam and Cosmo waited behind. Cosmo had on his Ruffwear harness so when I was ready, Adam lifted him up by the handle and helped him climb to where I was. We did this a couple times and made it up the crevice. If it’s crowded you may have to wait your turn since people can only go up or down, but not both at the same time.
After that section, the rest was pretty easy! We ended up making it to the top in about 20 minutes and were greeted by some pretty amazing views. Best part was that we had the summit all to ourselves for most of the time we were up there. You’ll know you’ve made it when you see this sign!
There is a thin trail at the summit where you can either go left or right. We explored both ways since we had time before the sunset. The left appeared to loop around to another trail.
Every way we looked we had an amazing view of Sedona. It was so peaceful being up their by ourselves where it was quiet and we were able to enjoy. We waited for the sun to set a bit more before heading back down.
The hike back down was easier than coming up with the crevice being the only real challenge with Cosmo. A group of people had to wait to come up until we made it down that part, but they were very patient with us.
It only took us about 15 minutes to hike back to the car making this one of the fastest but most rewarding hikes we’ve done in Sedona.
So, moral of the story: hike to Cathedral Rock next time you’re in Sedona! If you go, let us know what you think and snap a picture with the infamous “End of Trail” sign. And as always, if you have any questions or want more details, leave us a comment!
HAPPY HIKING ❤