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Cathedral Rock Big Loop

 4.4 (54)

12.4 Miles 20.0 Kilometers


100%

Singletrack

1,054' 321 m

Ascent

-1,054' -321 m

Descent

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

23%

Max Grade (13°)

4,458' 1,359 m

High

3,963' 1,208 m

Low

Shared By Michael Ahnemann

Conditions


All Clear 48 days ago
Dry: Hadn’t rained in weeks so chutes were scary slick with powdery dust History

Getting forecast...

An all-encompassing loop with some moderate riding, some challenging riding, and incredible views.

Michael Ahnemann

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-

This ride crosses the popular Cathedral Rock Trail, which is hikers-only, and gets people up from the nearby trailhead to the top of Cathedral Rock. Pay attention and be courteous here - it's an incredibly popular area for hikers, notably less experienced hikers. You'll likely get a few questions or comments from incredulous people asking if you've really ridden your bicycle to this spot!

Overview

This is the ride to do if you just want to do one thing in the Cathedral Rock area, and you're a confident intermediate or advanced rider. This loop has it all - nice flowy trail, technical rock sections, great scenery, and a couple of more advanced sections.

Description

Start at the Bell Rock Vista trailhead. To find the start point, head back down the short access road you just drove in to your parking spot. Cross the highway, and you'll see singletrack starting right at the end of the highway. This is the short connector that gets you to the start of Slim Shady Trail.

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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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Nov 12, 2018
Francis Bouchard B
Nov 2, 2018
Tyler Rambo
Templeton back on easy breezy 4.2mi
Sep 21, 2018
MTB USA
Sep 15, 2018
Jeff Hauser
Great route, lots of mix to it. Hiline is tempting.. next time. 12.3mi
Sep 8, 2018
Ryan Felt
Shredding with my bro
Aug 26, 2018
Matt Mascoli
Modified slim shady to highlight out, back on templeton. Fun ride. 12.3mi
Aug 19, 2018
David Monrreal
12mi
Aug 16, 2018
Chris Whote

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Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 54 votes

#106

Overall
  4.4 from 54 votes
5 Star
57%
4 Star
30%
3 Star
11%
2 Star
2%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#8

in Arizona

#106

Overall
973 Views Last Month
39,086 Since Feb 20, 2014
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

2%
0%
12%
72%
12%
2%
Don't mistake the hiker's trail from the parking lot to Cathedral Butte for the Cathedral Rock Connector Trail. The hiking trail is marked with large rock cairns while the biking route is marked with white paint on the slick rock (at least according to the description - I took the wrong trail). The bike route is past the hiking route if you are making your way back to the trailhead on Templeton. May 28, 2016
Eric Holowacz
Sedona, AZ
Eric Holowacz   Sedona, AZ
This trail is best for a combination of biking and hiking, and the sections in the Oak Creek riparian zone (Templeton/Baldwin and Buddha Beach) offer an enchanting look at that ecosystem. The creek features change as the winter snow melts and in the late summer monsoon season, when the creek really runs. The hike up to the saddle of Cathedral, not a biking trail, is worth a half-day visit too. Jan 11, 2017
I rode this loop (Xmas, '17), and have a few observations. First, the lollipop portion (Templeton, Baldwin) after the Cathedral Rock hiking trail intersection is, for the most part, significantly different from the ride out Slim Shady and Templeton to the hiking trail. It's not only way more technical, but there's also a lot of pedestrian traffic from a drive-up trailhead out near Baldwin, as well as, Cathedral Rock. The creek is extremely popular, and the trail along it is very narrow and technical. Furthermore, from what I saw, most people riding thru that area ride out on Hiline, and come back via a right on Baldwin to Templeton. If riding/walking Hiline doesn't appeal to you, then the out and back beyond Cathedral Rock is likely to wear on you as well. So, if you feel like you've had your hands full riding out to Cathedral Rock, then consider hanging a right when you get there down the slickrock chute. There's actually a sign there directing you to Easy Breezy and the ride back is really fun! Furthermore, if you feel like this ride is too short (and, well you should), then just follow the description until you get back to the right turn from Templeton onto Hermit, and instead of turning right, stay on Templeton thru both underpasses to the dirt road. From there you make a right to go to Baby Bell, where you make a left, and then follow the signs to get to Llama, where you make a left, and then ride the Courthouse Vista Loop, which is almost 100% straightforward ripping fun XC, and it'll bring you right back around to the Templeton/Hermit intersection. Jan 1, 2018

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