Top Sedona AZ Hikes: Little Horse to Chicken Point + Templeton Trail (Cathedral Rock)!

May 2019 – Sedona, Arizona, is a hiking and biking paradise, and during our stay we set our alarm for an early hour on many mornings so we could hit the hiking trails before the crowds.

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.

Best Sedona Arizona Hikes Little Horse Trail Cathedral Rock Trail-min

Two great hikes in Sedona Arizona:
Little Horse to Chicken Point and Templeton Trail around Cathedral Rock.

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.

Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike-min

An early morning hike on Sedona’s Little Horse Trail

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!

Playing with shadows during a red rock hike in Sedona Arizona

Who’s that down there?!

Cactus flowers were blooming everywhere. Most were pink or yellow, but as we turned a corner we found a gorgeous clump of red ones.

Red cactus flowers Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike-min

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Above them rose an equally stunning clump of red rock spires!

Cactus flowers on Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike to Chicken Point Overlook-min

A beautiful bouquet of red cactus flowers
against a regal red rock backdrop

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.

View from Chicken Point Overlook Sedona Arizona Hike-min

View from Chicken Point Overlook

Chicken Point Overlook view Sedona Arizona Hike-min

Chicken Point is the glorious highlight of several trails

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.

Patterns in the rocks Chicken Point Overlook Sedona Arizona Hike-min

Without a soul in sight we lined up all kinds of interesting images

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.

Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Sedona Arizona-min

The first Pink Jeep tour of the day rolls into view.

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.

Dawn on the hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

A beautiful day dawns

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!

Puppy in front of Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona Templeton Hike

Puppy Chow made a lovely foreground when the sun suddenly lit up Cathedral Rock

As the sun glowed on Cathedral Rock I continued hunting and finally stumbled on a gorgeous bed of delicate lavender flowers.

Flowers and puppy at Cathdedral Rock Templeton Hike Sedona Arizona-min

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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.

Balloons rise over red rocks in Sedona Arizona-min

A balloon soars on the morning thermals in the distance

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.

Dawn on Templeton Trail hiking in Sedona Arizona-min

Morning light on the Templeton Trail

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 Hike Sedona Arizona-min

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Slilckrock section of Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

The Templeton Trail goes along a ribbon of flat sandstone at the bottom of Cathedral Rock.

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.

Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona-min

Cathedral Rock.

Hiking Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Approaching Nature’s stunning cathedral

Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

What a place to hike!

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.

Evening primrose on the hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

Four white hearts with a pretty yellow center

Cathedral Rock and wildflowers in Sedona Arizona-min

Flowers bask in the sun in front of the cathedral

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.

Red rock patterns and Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

There are very cool patterns on the ground.

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!

Cathedral Rock Trail Sedona Arizona hike-min

We loved this hike and will do it again heading the other way!

Wildflowers on Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Wildflowers lined the trail

We roamed around some more and found some wonderful puddles reflecting the beauty of Sedona.

Cathedral Rock reflections in Sedona Arizona-min

Mirror image in a puddle

Colorful reflections in the water-min

We just love these kinds of reflections

Reflections in the water Sedona Arizona-min

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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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8 thoughts on “Top Sedona AZ Hikes: Little Horse to Chicken Point + Templeton Trail (Cathedral Rock)!

  1. We are in the Verde Valley area this week and went to Sedona yesterday for a jeep tour. Did you take your razor out on the trails? It was quite a ride! Beautiful pics!!

  2. Em,
    Love those cacti flowers! Another gorgeous area to put on our list of places to visit. Puppy Chow looks like he’s in his element; he even blends in with the red/orangish rocks. Did he ever figure out who was in those shadows? 😉
    Bob

    • The flowers are so plentiful this year, Bob. We’re just loving it! Sedona is one of those lifetime bucket list types of places. You’ll be blown away when you get there! Those shadows were a total hoot, but it might have been a lizard under a bush and not our shadows that kept Buddy’s eyes riveted in that direction!!

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