The National Forest surrounding the Sedona area is filled with a fabulous network of trails, and each morning we started at a different trailhead to explore and experience the beauty for a few hours.
The Little Horse trailhead lies a few miles south of downtown Sedona and made a wonderful jumping off point to get into the incredible red rock views, but we weren’t sure at first if this trail would look its best as the sun rose.
The trail wandered east through scrubby woods for a while and the red rock formations ahead of us were backlit as the sun rose, so it seemed we wouldn’t get the spectacular images that Sedona is famous for.
However, the red rock slabs and sand under foot made a great canvas for playing shadow puppets once the sun rose a little way. We looked down off a ledge and saw a cartoon caricature of ourselves!
Cactus flowers were blooming everywhere. Most were pink or yellow, but as we turned a corner we found a gorgeous clump of red ones.
Above them rose an equally stunning clump of red rock spires!
The Little Horse trail goes to the Chicken Point Overllook, and when the trail opened up at this glorious spot it seemed like the views went on forever.
Chicken Point Overlook is one of the most popular destinations in the Sedona area, but for 20 minutes we had the whole place entirely to ourselves because it was still very early in the morning. We wandered all around the massive red rock slabs taking photos.
Suddenly, as I lined up a shot, a pink jeep on the first Pink Jeep Tour of the day on the Broken Arrow Trail appeared out of nowhere. The driver backed the jeep up to a precipice and teased the passengers in the far back seat who were perched right over the edge.
Within minutes two more pink Jeeps were parked nearby and the place was crawling with excited tourists.
On another morning we set out on the Cathedral Rock trail in the early morning hours. This trail climbs up a series of stair steps from the Cathedral Rock trailhead and delivers you to the base of Cathedral Rock where there is a fabulous view of Nature’s wondrous cathedral and of the surrounding landscapes as well. At this point the trail intersects with the Templeton Trail.
Again, our early start put us on the trail two hours before anyone else, and when we arrived at the wide “slickrock” slabs in front of Cathedral Rock we had acres and acres of red rock playground to ourselves.
When I saw the sun beginning to light up the spires on Cathedral Rock I frantically hunted around for a beautiful foreground to go with it. I couldn’t find anything handy right away, but then I noticed Buddy sitting right in front of me, perched perfectly still as he watched Mark in the distance. Nice!
As the sun glowed on Cathedral Rock I continued hunting and finally stumbled on a gorgeous bed of delicate lavender flowers.
The air was very chilly, and balloon enthusiasts in the distance were taking advantage of the cool air to fly their balloons. One rose over the landscape. What a wonderful way to enjoy Sedona’s incomparable views by floating just slightly above the land in silence except for the occasional noise of the heater to heat the air in the balloon.
We followed the Templeton Trail to the east around the base of Cathedral Rock. The trail took us into the woods where we had lovely views through the trees.
After about a mile and a half we turned around. Now the red rock landscape was bathed in beautiful bright sunshine and the air was delightfully warm.
Templeton Trail is a super popular mountain biking trail, and we rode it a few years ago. It is a challenging trail with lots of rocky obstacles, but the slickrock portion that goes around the base of Cathedral Rock is flat and smooth and fun.
We still hadn’t seen a soul on the trail, either hiking or on mountain bikes, even after two hours of hiking. We rounded a bend and Cathedral Rock soared back into view.
An evening primrose in the shadow of a tree at Mark’s feet caught his eye, and a lovely blue flower dancing before the red rock cathedral caught mine.
The patterns in the red rock slabs were wonderful. In some places the rock was stained with white and in others there were interesting cracks and crevices.
When we got back to the intersection of Templeton Trail and Cathedral Rock Trail we finally heard some distant voices. Hikers were coming up the trail from the trailhead parking lot.
When we met up with them they said they were going to head west on Templeton trail where it goes around the other side of Cathedral Rock and down towards Oak Creek. We’ll have to go that way next time!
We roamed around some more and found some wonderful puddles reflecting the beauty of Sedona.
Sedona, Arizona, is a nature lover’s paradise! If you haven’t been there, put it on your itinerary. If you have been there, then you know it’s worth many return trips!
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More info about this area:
- Map: Cathedral Rock Trail to Templeton Trail
- Map: Little Horse Trail to Chicken Point Overlook
- RV campgronds in and around Sedona
Other blog posts from the Sedona area:
- Bell Rock Pathway, Sedona AZ – Hiking & Biking the Red Rocks
- Brins Mesa Trail & Unexpected Delights in Sedona Arizona!
- Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, AZ – What a Hike!
- Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing – Sedona AZ
- Hiking the “Pig Trails” in Sedona, AZ – Breathtaking! (oink oink!)
- Montezuma’s Castle & Schnebly Hill – Sedona Heights!
- Oh, Sedona – Scenic drives in the red rocks!!
- Sedona – Mountain biking in the red rocks!
- Sedona Arizona – Brooding Skies at Sunset in the Red Rocks
- Sedona Reflections on the West Fork Trail
- Sedona, Arizona – Great Beer, Coffee, Red Rocks & Psychics!
- The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (Bell Trail Hike), Sedona, AZ
Beautiful red rock hikes we’ve loved:
- Bryce Canyon National Park – Fairyland Trail – A Beautiful Hike!
- Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah – Better Than Bryce?
- Goblin Valley State Park Utah – One Gigantic Playground!
- Grand Staircase Escalante Nat’l Monument – Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike
- Paria Rimrocks “Toadstools” Hike to A Hidden Canyon!
- Red Canyon – Arches Trail – Windows & Hoodoos in Utah!
- Red Canyon Utah is an Overlooked Treasure
- Wire Pass Trail – Slot Canyon Hiking!
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