Overview: Starts across the road from the Red Rock Crossing (Crescent Moon) parking area near the end of the Verde Valley School Road. It heads east and soon drops down a bit to the valley floor, near but out of sight of the creek. At 1/2 mile, it meets the end of the Templeton Trail. The Baldwin Trail forks sharply right and climbs moderately through a draw between Cathedral Rock and a red rock butte. Nice views of Cathedral Rock and back to Wilson Mountain. It levels out and then begins a gradual descent to the southwest and ends at Verde Valley School Road at 1.6 miles.
Hike: The Baldwin Trail is a nice, easy "family" type of hike located to the southwest of Cathedral Rock. It originates off of Verde Valley School Road, near the parking apron intersection of FS Road 9216B, cuts through a pass between Cathedral Rock and an unnamed butte, and terminates at the Templeton Trail. It provides a bit more subtle access to Cathedral Rock, and allows time and energy to climb into the cliffs or just hang around the creek. Feel confident that you could bring even your laziest "back east" cousins on this trek- and they'll still enjoy themselves.
To find the trail, park at the medium size lot at the beginning of FS Road 9216B, which is roughly 4 miles in on the left side of Verde Valley School Road, just a half mile or so after the pavement ends. Go back out to the main road, walk to the right and hike about 100 ft- on the left you'll see a rusty sign, about knee high, proclaiming this the Baldwin Trail. The trail meanders through a nice red rock pinyon pine flat dissected by cool crevasses, almost like little Hobbit canyons, and then abruptly heads north northwest, almost parallel to the road. Soon it spins to the east and begins a gradual climb into the red rock cliffs of an unnamed butte directly southwest of Cathedral. The climb is very easy- with close switchbacks and wonderful open views. Soon the trail will briefly follow a zigzagging split rail fence barrier (apparently there to protect an unwary hiker from falling into another narrow rock chasm), and then tops out with a magnificent view of Cathedral Rock. The trail is marked up to this point by cute little foot high cairn baskets, but for some reason they disappear after you top out. No worries- the trail is very easy to follow.
Now the trail drops gradually into the pass, contouring the base of Cathedral Rock. A nice little stroll takes you through a typical red rock environment with gentle undulations until it passes through a fence and suddenly ends at the signed Templeton Intersection. Listen and you can hear Oak Creek beckon. Just a short walk to your right on the Templeton Trail brings you to Oak Creek with a great swimming hole and rope swing, and the cairned cutoff up into Cathedral Rock itself.
A loop hike can be made by following the Templeton as it curves west-southwest ending a half mile later at Verde Valley School Road. Simply hike the road back to your vehicle. This trip I decided to make this an out-and-back, savoring the evening light and the silence of the surrounding cliffs.
Red Rock Pass - may or may not be required. The "more" link within the FS website does not work so it is confusing. If you have questions contact the Coconino forest service.
To Red Rock Trailhead Take I-17 north out of Phoenix to exit 298 (exit 200 is McDowell for reference). Follow 298 to the Village of Oak Creek. Turn left onto Verde Valley School Road. Follow nearly to the end. A signed parking area is on the left. Parking at the end of the road is not allowed.
Verde Valley Road is dirt but easily doable in a car. One fork in the road has confused a few ( or at least the first group I sent in ) When you come to a fork in the road with signs stating 'no bridge' on the left, be sure to take the right. It's true there's no bridge on the left but they should of just posted tourist go right.
From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 118 mi - about 1 hour 59 mins From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 223 mi - about 3 hours 29 mins From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 52.9 mi - about 57 mins
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.