May 30, 2023

Staring up the steep and slim crimson rocks on Cathedral Rock Path in Sedona, Arizona, I used to be on the fringe of my consolation zone.

Dropping your steadiness on this part might simply end in a painful, doubtlessly deadly fall, as there’s nothing to gradual your momentum.

Looking up the most difficult section of Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona, Arizona
Wanting up essentially the most difficult part of Cathedral Rock Path

We might already climbed larger than Kel had the primary time a yr earlier, when she wore operating sneakers that lacked grip on the graceful rock.

Regardless of her suggestion that I purchase climbing sneakers, as she’d since executed, I figured I might get by as I had throughout our hikes in Massive Bend Nationwide Park.

I used to be unsuitable, and it was greater than evident. I hadn’t thought of the slick rock we might be traversing, not to mention a vertical scramble with few apparent handholds and many unfastened rock.

The Cathedral Rock Path was among the many hottest hikes in Sedona. How difficult might it’s, I might thought?

Not like the Satan’s Bridge hike, I did not even examine it. And now I used to be questioning if I might make it to the highest.

Cathedral Rock Trail map
Cathedral Rock Path map

Attending to Cathedral Rock Path

Following a terrific brunch with pizza and cocktails at Hideaway Home after our dawn hike to Satan’s Bridge, we visited V Bar V Ranch to see petroglyphs earlier than driving towards the Cathedral Rock Trailhead.

The perfect occasions to go to Cathedral Rock within the Coconino Nationwide Forest are dawn and sundown, when the solar is low within the sky and (hopefully) the temperatures are cooler.

However, we did not have the posh of time, as we solely had one full day in Sedona and needed to take advantage of it.

Parking and Shuttle

The day earlier than, we might used a bank card to pay $15 for a weekly Purple Rock Move which lets you use the small parking tons at trailheads. Buying a move is a required. A day move is $5.

Sadly, however predictably, there have been no parking areas accessible within the two Cathedral Rock Trailhead parking tons, so we once more needed to depend on the free Sedona Shuttle to get us there.

The departure level for Cathedral Rock Trailhead is the North SR-179 Park and Journey on Google Maps.

The shuttle departs each quarter-hour from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday by means of Sunday, for the 10-minute drive.

To return, the Sedona Shuttle departs the Cathedral Rock Trailhead each 10 minutes from 7:10 a.m. till 5:12 p.m.

Preserve these occasions in thoughts when you’re aiming to look at the sundown from atop Cathedral Rock, as you will must rely by yourself transportation or plan for an extended hike if you cannot park shut by.

Cathedral Rock Trail
Cathedral Rock Path

The Hike

The Cathedral Rock Path is simply a 1.2-mile roundtrip hike. The problem is within the 741 elevation acquire, together with one steep climb that requires each fingers to be free.

It appears like a stroll within the park once you’re beginning out on the base of Cathedral Rock. Preserve an eye fixed out for the path indicators and rock-filled basket cairns main the way in which on this first part.

Given the hike’s reputation, you will possible see different individuals on their means up or down, although, so it would be onerous to get misplaced throughout daylight.

Carry a headlamp to make sure a secure descent when you’re heading up within the late afternoon for sundown.

The solar units on the other facet of Cathedral Rock Path, so you start to lose daylight mid-afternoon.

View from Cathedral Rock
Unimaginable views from Cathedral Rock

After solely 10 minutes on the climbing path, we might walked up the light slopes of crimson rock and reached a plateau with spectacular views towards the east and south.

If you already know the place to look towards the east, you’ll be able to spot the Chapel of the Holy Cross; a church constructed amid the crimson rocks within the Fifties, which is gorgeous to some and controversial to others.

View south toward Courthouse Butte, as seen hiking Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona, Arizona
View south towards Courthouse Butte

Wanting towards the south, we might see Courthouse Butte and the tippy-top of Bell Rock, which we might hiked across the day earlier than.

I might have been glad with the views if this was so far as we went. Subsequently, when you’re afraid of heights and what you learn subsequent, I might counsel you not write off Cathedral Rock altogether.

Dave smiles nervously while climbing  (photo by Kelly Lemons)
Dave climbing Cathedral Rock (picture by Kelly Lemons)

The Steep Half

Missing a technical climbing time period, let’s simply say this subsequent part of Sedona’s Cathedral Rock Path was difficult.

The intrusive considered slipping, falling, and bouncing off the rocks on my means down rapidly entered my thoughts as I stared upwards.

We have been there lengthy sufficient to look at some hikers descend, most utilizing each their fingers to regular themselves on the rocks.

One man was carrying gloves which I noticed makes lots of sense when you need to use your fingers on rocks that’ve been absorbing the solar all morning.

An older girl (maybe in her 50s) inspired us, saying this quick climb was essentially the most difficult half and that “if I can do it, so are you able to!”

Kel went first to her credit score and scrambled up the crimson rocks like a champ. I adopted quickly after, coronary heart pounding. At one level, I took a break so she might snap a photograph of me smiling nervously.

I used to be annoyed by the shortage of grip on my new operating sneakers. Additionally, whereas I might introduced loads of water in a 20-ounce metallic bottle, it was cumbersome.

I hadn’t realized I might want each fingers to be free for the Cathedral Rock hike and was pressured to awkwardly carry my metallic bottle within the pocket of my Prana shorts; fortunately, it match.

View of Sedona from the top of the steepest section of the trail
View from the highest of the steepest part of the path

Inspired by my girlfriend’s ascent, I slowly made my means up the vertical part till I reached its prime. The views have been much like what we might skilled on the plateau under.

My coronary heart continued to pound, and my ideas turned as to whether the descent could be extra sophisticated than the ascent.

I used to be drained from a protracted day and frightened a couple of potential slip on the way in which down.

Regardless of the information that the onerous half was over and the remainder of the hike up Cathedral Rock was extra manageable, I felt I might gone so far as doable.

Reminiscences of exhaustion on day three of my Annapurna Sanctuary trek in Nepal 14 years in the past nonetheless have an effect on me.

So does the time a Swiss man I used to be doing the Indrahar Move trek with in Northern India tripped and nearly fell off a precipice above 13,000 toes (4,000 meters).

Not that climbing in Sedona is as excessive as multi-day treks within the Himalayas. However these experiences nonetheless are likely to set off my anxiousness.

View toward the top of Cathedral Rock
View towards the highest of Cathedral Rock

Kel continued to hike larger towards the towering rock formations, however determined to not go to the very prime because of the period of time it would’ve taken (about half-hour roundtrip).

Looking back, persevering with along with her would’ve taken my thoughts off the steep slopes. As a substitute, I sat down and loved the view the place I used to be till she returned.

Since we did not attain the top of the path, I’ve included a number of photographs from others under.

View west from the top of Cathedral Rock (photo by Nico)
View west atop Cathedral Rock (picture by Nico)

Man on a narrow ledge (photo by Tommy Tang)
Man on a ledge (picture by Tommy Tang)

Going Down

After we reunited, Kel started down the steep part of Cathedral Rock Path. One of the best ways down it’s to make use of each fingers to regular your self.

To my nice shock, it felt simpler to maneuver down this part than to climb up it.

I did not have the identical pounding coronary heart and wasn’t as depending on discovering appropriate handholds as earlier than. And, worst case, I knew I might at all times slide down on my butt.

Kel's descent
Kel descending

After we reached the underside of the steepest part, we paused for a photograph. I used to be feeling grateful to have made it again down with out incident.

Right here, we ran right into a pair of hikers with a small canine, who mentioned they’d want to return and drop their canine off earlier than returning to make the climb.

As we hiked again to the parking space to catch the Sedona Shuttle, we handed extra hikers beginning out.

Some requested about what lay forward, and we did our greatest to encourage them as others had executed for us.

Associated: Scorching Springs Canyon Path in Massive Bend

Kel smiles after descending the most challenging part of Cathedral Rock Trail
Kel at Cathedral Rock

Last Ideas on Cathedral Rock

I be taught one thing new from each hike, particularly those that do not go as deliberate, whether or not due to the climate, my anxieties, or another issue.

My key takeaway for Cathedral Rock in Sedona is to deliver correct climbing boots. They do not need to have present full ankle assist, however they need to have a grippy tread.

Since some scrambling is required for this reasonable hike, it is higher to deliver a small backpack for water, snacks, digital camera, and so on.

I had one however left it in our rental automotive, pondering I might carry the water bottle because it was a brief path.

Put on gloves to guard from rock faces that’ve heated up within the solar; additionally they present further grip when transferring up/down steep sections.

Lastly, when you’re daring sufficient to soak up the attractive views of Cathedral Rock at sundown, deliver an LED headlamp. You do not wish to be scrambling down the path at the hours of darkness.

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