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Baldwin, Templeton trails lead way to some of Sedona’s most breathtaking sites

Gary Every

Gary Every

Originally Published: November 17, 2020 1:29 p.m.

Baldwin Trail is relatively easy and connects to the Templeton Trail so it can be as long as one wishes to make it. 

Along the way, you will stumble upon some of the most iconic photo ops Sedona has to offer.  The trailhead is easy to find. Follow Verde Valley School Road to the end after it turns to dirt (easily passable for all cars) and park in the big lot.

The trail is relatively flat, especially at the beginning when it wanders across dirt hills and traverses the red rock.  If one has difficulty following the trail merely observe the large red rock cairns, built like miniature pillars to guide the way.

After only 10 minutes or so of walking, the trail will drop down approximately 30 feet from the red rock shelf to the river bottom.  Immediately you will discover yourself in the shade, standing beneath a thick grove of trees. 

The large trees and shade they provide, as well as easy river access, make the Baldwin Trail a popular summer hike.

The official Baldwin Trail hugs the red rock shelf before bending away from the river and toward another trailhead along Verde Valley School Road.  There are many well-established unofficial social trails that give quick and easy access to the river.  One of these spots is a wide red rock shelf, part of which is barely submerged and part of which is dry and warm. Cathedral Rock towers above Oak Creek here and this photograph is one of the most iconic in Sedona.

Along with all the trees, the Baldwin Trail is also an excellent spot for birdwatching. In the spring, these trees fill with a variety of birds: red cardinals, two types of tanagers, vermillion flycatchers, robins, jays, and the black-headed grosbeak, which is very pretty bird despite the name. The distinctive kingfisher call is often heard as the quick and elusive birds dart up and down the river.

As you follow the Baldwin Trail east, you will come to a sign proclaiming the intersection of the Baldwin and Templeton Trail. It is here that the Baldwin Trail turns away from the river and toward the road.

It is highly recommended that you follow the Templeton Trail, which continues to follow the river and is not actually a turn at all.  The Templeton Trail does lead to the water eventually. You are too close to Cathedral Rock to see the peak, but this stretch of current does feature some interesting creekside red rock formations and boulders that serve as islands in the stream.  Some of Sedona’s most popular swimming holes are located here. 

Hearty hikers may want to follow the Templeton Trail as it leaves the river and begins to climb steeply.  If you are here to enjoy the red rocks, this stretch of trail will delight as the trail winds up Cathedral Rock, walking on top of the red rock itself with wonderful views of the valley and Cathedral Rock towering above.