Baldwin Trail on a Sunday

The Baldwin Loop is a pleasant, 2-mile jaunt that provides excellent views of Cathedral Rock. It’s also a clever way to get to this most popular red rock formation when the Back o’ Beyond Road trailhead closes — sometimes, before 8 a.m. on weekends. 

This trail is a lot like Baby Bear’s chair. It isn’t too rugged, nor is it too easy. It doesn’t gain too much elevation, but a few steep slopes will elevate your heart rate. It’s not long but lengthy enough to make you feel like you came closer to your step-quota for the day. It’s popular enough that you never feel alone, but you can typically find parking before 10 a.m. 

If you’re standing at the trailhead sign you can see below, choose your starting direction based on the time of day. Going clockwise puts you in the shade first, a wise decision if you’re hoping for some sunset shots and start out when the afternoon is high. I arrived around 11 a.m. and went the opposite way so that I would finish beneath the cottonwood and juniper trees after getting sufficiently sweaty. 

Part of the trail parallels the dirt portion of Verde Valley School Road, which terminates not long after the parking area. There are a few side trails closer to the Turkey Creek parking area. However, it’s best to remain in clearly marked areas designated by the forest service to avoid harming the biological crust that careless feet can destroy.

Cathedral from wooded part of Baldwin Trail, Sedona

The Perfect Trail for a Picnic

The beauty part of Baldwin Trail is that there are ample large, flat stones for stopping, spreading out a blanket and digging into what Yogi Bear would refer to as a pic-a-nic basket. You can dine with views of the Seven Apaches or Cathedral, even both at one spot on the trail. Please remember, etiquette demands packing out whatever you bring in, so kindly take your trash with you.

Let Your Pup Cool Down in Oak Creek

As you approach the backside of the trail from the counterclockwise direction, you’ll come across the marker for the Crescent Moon, Templeton, and Baldwin intersections. Directly ahead, you’ll see Oak Creek. 


This spot is popular among those with 4-legged friends. You can let Lassie have a swim. The ducks are accustomed to such canine intrusions.

Recommended for Romance

If I were your Sedona guide, I would highly recommend this trail to honeymooners looking to explore the region’s beauty without getting too sweaty or risking getting lost. The trail is wide enough to stroll hand-in-hand for much of the way, and you can always snooker a kind local like me into snapping a memorial picture for you in front of Cathedral Rock. Given the popularity of this shorter, more moderate hike, you’re sure to run into someone.

Baldwin Trail on a Sunday

As I reminisce on today’s hike, I give thanks that I soaked up enough vitamin D to see me through the next two days. According to the forecast, we might be in for a bit of snow. 


However, Baldwin Trail is beautiful any time of year, regardless of the weather. Put this hike on your must-see in Sedona list. It’s short, sweet, and utterly worth it. 


To Get There: 


Take the Sedona S.R. 179 exit from Highway 17 north. Turn left at the traffic circle at Verde Valley School Road. Follow it until the road becomes dirt. Continue past the Turkey Creek parking area to the Baldwin parking area near the roadway’s end.

Hoodoo spire off Baldwin Trail, Sedona, AZ
Spire off Baldwin Trail Sedona
Ducks in Oak Creek on Baldwin Trail in Sedona AZ
Baldwin Trailhead Sign, Sedona, AZ