Stairway to Heaven
This trail is more recognized now. The FS summary and old "Templeton to Cathedral Rock" follows.
The Templeton Trail begins off the Bell Rock Pathway just north of Bell Rock, goes under Route 179 through a tunnel and heads northwest. It intersects the H.T. Trail at 1 mile. (New as of 4/20/2007: there is a new alignment for the Templeton Trail. A new box culvert has been installed to take the trail under the new road construction. Also, cairns have been installed to help people find their way. Go through the box culvert - it even has the trail name on it!)
The Templeton Trail continues northwest and onto a shoulder of Cathedral Rock where it intersects the middle of the Cathedral Rock Trail at 2.4 miles. The Templeton Trail continues ahead over level ground and curves around the north end of Cathedral Rock where there are great views. It then descends steeply and follows beside the creek for a time. The trail ends at 3.5 miles at its intersection with the Baldwin Trail which comes in from the left through a fence line and continues ahead.
Templeton to Cathedral Rock Templeton Trail has no "official" trailhead but starts at a pull-off near mile marker 309 across from the Bell Rock Path off Highway 179. This is a nice enough trail with very little elevation gain just some nice ups n'downs and I followed it about 3.5 miles to the intersection with the Baldwin Trail. At about 1 mile you come to the intersection of the HT Trail and at about 2.5 miles you cross a slick rock area at the junction of Cathedral Rock Trail. I continued on Templeton to the Baldwin Trail with my sights set on climbing Cathedral Rock Trail on my way back. Nice red rock views throughout and then I heard the waters of Oak Creek running but didn't see the creek until near the intersection with Baldwin. I stayed near the creek a while soaking my feet in the icy cold water and then headed back to tackle Cathedral Rock. This was by far, the best part of this hike as I ascended up 650 feet of very steep slick rock in about 0.4 miles. Huge cairns mark the way. The first section was pretty tough as it was two curved areas of slick rock that came together with a nice big natural drainage in the middle. It took a little maneuvering for me to get up this but I was determined to climb up this. Looked like there were several ways to get around this area but I really wanted to challenge myself and do it the hard way. Joe wrote up about this hike under Cathedral Rock Trail. There are some pretty steep and potentially dangerous sections. I can't even imagine doing this in wet weather. This trail is really exposed so doing it later in the day is a plus since you'll be hiking in the shade.
Once past this area, the rest was nature's stairs climbing the rest of the way to the saddle. The trail hooks to the left as it ascends with gorgeous views of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock~~~As I approached the saddle I was so awestruck at the size and shapes of the spires that make up this beautiful piece of rock. I reached the saddle and I was the only one up there, except for one other lone hiker who was sitting out on a ledge meditating and just soaking it all in. I managed to capture a picture of him out there and I think it just epitomizes the reason we all have the need to do this. The view was beyond words as you looked out to the west, the sun starting to hang low in the sky. My new friend and I exchanged some pleasantries then he took a picture of me with my camera and left. I enjoyed a marvelous view and true solitude for a good 30 minutes but got so caught up in the majesty of it all, I lost all track of time and it was close to 4:45 when I realized I only had about an hour and a half of light left to hike down and out, close to 3 miles to my car. I reluctantly left my perch and started back and made quick time back to my car, although it was pretty dark when I arrived there. Somehow it's always easier & faster for me to descend than to ascend but you really have to be careful on that slick rock.
This was one spectacular hike and a new favorite! I get to Sedona every year and I plan on doing this hike again, except I want to do this late in the day, watch the sun set and the stars come out... it's that magical.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.