Cathedral Rock Big Loop
ElevationAscent: 1,054' 321 m
Descent: -1,054' -321 m
High: 4,458' 1,359 m
Low: 3,963' 1,208 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)
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“An all-encompassing loop with some moderate riding, some challenging riding, and incredible views.”— Michael Ahnemann
This one is definitely rideable by intermediates. Less experienced riders might walk a few short sections, but it's a nice flowy trail without too much to trip you up along the way. The trail surface is mostly red dirt - more dirt than rock on this one and definitely smoother than many of the other trails in the area.
After about 2.5 miles, Slim Shady intersects with Templeton Trail. Turn left down the hill onto Templeton. Templeton is more difficult than Slim Shady - it's still worth doing for intermediate riders but they'll find themselves walking a bit. The first section from Slim Shady is fairly mellow, with only a few very short rocky areas, but mostly just twisty red dirt cruising. The trail turns to 100% red rock as you contour around and cross the Cathedral Rock Trail.
The descent from Catherdral Rock area is the trickiest part of the trail, though most of it is rideable without terrible consequences if you fall. You'll follow several switchbacks and ride or walk over a sustained rocky section before reaching the bottom. Here, you'll be rewarded with a much more lush area along Oak Creek. There are plenty of spots for a dip if you're hot, then a rocky technical section to the end where Baldwin Loop starts.
Much of the riding on Baldwin is intermediate, but there are a couple of challenging spots. It's a loop that you can start at any point and go in either direction, though it's shown counter-clockwise here, and that's probably the best direction.
Starting from the intersection with Templeton Trail, it's a flowy cruise on soft red dirt at first. In 1/4 mile, you'll pass a small parking lot, and after that, the trail climbs and gets rockier. There's a nice vista at the high point with familiar views out across the area. Once the trail heads downhill, you'll encounter a few challenging spots on the descent (if you're headed CCW). You can bear right onto Highline Trail for an extreme downhill challenge.
Otherwise, this section of Baldwin is a great place to work on technical rock handling skills. Everything comes at you gradually so you can size it up before taking a plunge, and the consequences aren't as high as in other trails in the area.
The trail eventually winds through a flat rocky section back to the starting point at Templeton Trail. Once back to Templeton, make your way back up the rocky climb to the Cathedral Rock area. Go back through the busy intersection where the hiking trail comes up, go another 100 yards, and look for a trail leading down from Templeton, marked by white paint dashes on the rock. This is Cathedral Rock Connector Trail, a short but sweet slick rock ride down to the bottom. There are some fun moves to practice on, rideable, by intermediates if not a bit challenging.
Next, you'll connect with Easy Breezy, which is just as it sounds for the most part. It's a mix of soft dirt and a few somewhat rocky, but rideable sections, as it meanders its way through tree cover with some nice shade. The first section of trail starts out a little rockier than the second section as it runs along the creek bed. It then crosses a usually-dry creek bed several times with a little roller-coaster feel in and back out of the creek bed. You'll cross HT Trail, then meet up with Templeton Trail.
Ride This section of Templeton a short way and look for Hermit Trail, a short simple connector leading to Coconino Trail. Coconino connects back in with Slim Shady. Complete your ride by retracing the first section of Slim Shady back to the start.
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