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sedona red rock trail fund: ‘End of the trail’ in sight for Cathedral Restoration

With the boost of a $15,000 donation from Enchantment Resort, the gap on the Upper Cathedral restoration has closed to $69,760. Pictured: Enchantment’s Managing Director Stan Kantowski, Trail House staff, representatives from USFS and the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund.

With the boost of a $15,000 donation from Enchantment Resort, the gap on the Upper Cathedral restoration has closed to $69,760. Pictured: Enchantment’s Managing Director Stan Kantowski, Trail House staff, representatives from USFS and the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund.

By press time, the final stretch of the ambitious restoration project for Cathedral Rock Trail will be underway. And with cooperation from Mother Nature, it should be complete and open for the enjoyment of our fittest local hikers and Spring break visitors by early April.

This last section of Phase Four is the endpoint of a project that started in the Fall of 2021. This final push involves the uppermost area from Switchback Staircase to End of Trail.

Steep, Tough Terrain

Cathedral Rock Trail has many unique qualities that make it a place like no other in the Coconino National Forest. Erosive soils, steep terrain, slick rock, and frequent “washouts” make it particularly challenging to Forest Service trail managers. It presents specific exceptional requirements for rock construction not seen elsewhere in the Red Rock Ranger District. Although rock work is always intensive and time-consuming, the conditions on Cathedral are extreme.

Particularly daunting is the challenge of moving essential heavy equipment uphill each day. Forrest Gale and Tommy Cogger, Summit to Sea consultants who are working with the USFS on the project, explain, “In our experience in the southwest, we compare this style/technique and caliber of trail building to what you find on the Grand Canyon trails. All of the equipment is hauled up by hand, on the backs of workers and on a rock dolly.”

Kevin Kuhl, trails/wilderness/OHV coordinator for the Red Rock Ranger District, provided the following update. “Crews are currently gearing up by installing new fencing at the junction of the Cathedral Rock and Templeton trails. This will provide for transition from the open, slick rock terrain on Templeton. It will also better delineate the trail alignment of Cathedral, and reduce redundant social trail alignments on the beginning of the Cathedral slick rock climb. Once the project starts, crews will focus on safely rigging rock to efficiently move it to the construction areas. Then the rock splitting and shaping will start for new check step construction.”

Trail Closure and Re-Opening

The lower 0.2-mile portion of the trail from Cathedral Rock trailhead to the Templeton junction will be open to the public for the full duration of the project. The upper 0.3-mile portion of the trail – from the Templeton Junction to the terminus – will remain closed from Feb. 1 to March 31, unless work is completed earlier and all hazards related to this work are mitigated. He added, “We anticipate volunteer assistance from the Westerners Hiking Club and Friends of the Forest to help us educate the public about the ongoing Forest Closure Order of Cathedral Rock Trail.”

Public Funding Still Needed to Bridge the Chasm

The project got off the ground financially when the USFS received money from the Great American Outdoors Act of 2020. As that funding was insufficient to cover the cost, the USFS partnered with the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund (SRRTF) to raise what was needed to complete the project. This has been largely achieved through remarkably generous support of private donors and grants.

“Significant donations from the National Forest Foundation ($27,100), Enchantment Resort ($15,000), the Sedona Westerners 2022 Trail Fund Campaign ($10,000+), Kahtoola ($8,000) and 66 other donors, have closed the funding gap to $69,760,” stated Kevin Adams, SRRTF president. He added, “We’re urging the community to help bring this project to full, successful closure by March 1st”.

All donations are tax-deductible, and easy to make via the Trail Fund’s website redrocktrailfund.org. On the home page, you can choose to donate specifically to the Cathedral Rock Trail, and the full donation will be used for that project.

Red Dust Under the Nails - Volunteer Workdays

The Red Rock Ranger District holds volunteer workdays on select Thursdays and Saturday mornings during the field season. February dates are the 11th (meet at Aerie trailhead), 16th (meet at Broken Arrow trailhead) and 25th (meet at Doe/Bear Mtn trailhead). For more information contact Kevin Kuhl kevin.kuhl@usda.gov.

SRRTF’s mission is to gather donations to maintain and enhance the non-motorized National Forest trails in the greater Sedona area, and to educate the public regarding their use and management.


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