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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Loopy Sedona hike with fall color

View of Oak Creek from Baldwin Trail

Cathedral Rock, Nov 4, 2012
An aerial view of Sedona's network of trails reveals a very loopy web.  Most of Red Rock Country's short trails are interconnected, allowing hikers, bikers and equestrians to customize their treks.  The Baldwin Trail loop anchors the far west end of the Bell Rock-Cathedral Rock cluster of paths.  Beautiful as both a standalone or combo hike, Baldwin makes a scenic swoop near the base of world-famous Cathedral Rock, topping out at a sunny highpoint with great views of Sedona and the Bradshaw Mountains before dipping down to graze the wooded fringes of Oak Creek.  A map kiosk at the trailhead details the route and its connecting trails, including a (highly recommended) diversion to a vortex (place known for its spiritual energy) site on Oak Creek via the Templeton Trail.
The diversity of this trail is a wonder.  Hikers wander through flood plain grasslands, over slabs of bare rock dotted with cypress and agaves and among enormous creek side sycamore-cottonwood riparian forests flanked by soaring red walls of sedimentary stone.  All this variety makes it a good "appetizer" trail to get a little taste of all the goodies of hiking in Sedona.

LENGTH:  2.1 mile loop (according to my calculations--FS says its 1.6 miles)
RATING:  easy
ELEVATION:  4020' - 4150'
FEE: a Red Rock Pass is required.  $5 daily fee per vehicle.
FACILITIES: restroom
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to exit 298 for Sedona AZ 179.  Turn left (west) and continue 6 miles on AZ 179 to the Verde Valley School Road traffic circle. Veer left and drive roughly 5 miles to the Baldwin Trailhead. Last few miles are rough dirt, but passable by sedan.  Alternate access:  a point on the right side of Verde Valley School Rd just before FR 9829 where a 0.3 mile spur path connects to the trail.  Also connects to the Templeton Trail.
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900

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