For those who like to spend half the day rambling through Red Rock Country at a leisurely pace, Templeton Trail is right up your alley. You’ll only encounter one steep climb along this 9-mile (round trip) hike; instead expect expansive views, tunnels underneath AZ-179 and the gurgling waters of Oak Creek.
Begin your hike at the Courthouse Vista Trailhead just north of Bell Rock and the Village of Oak Creek. To reach Templeton, you’ll need to first head north on Phone Trail until it merges with Bell Rock Pathway. Continue heading north on Bell Rock Pathway. After hiking for a half of a mile on these two trails, you’ll come upon the Templeton Trail junction. Turn left. Walk through stands of juniper trees, and you’ll soon come upon the first of two concrete tunnels that lead under AZ-179 (this tunnel goes under the northbound section of the highway). When you emerge from the tunnel, you’ll see Easy Breezy Trail on your right. Templeton and Easy Breezy, a popular mountain biking trail, will cross paths numerous times throughout your hike. Stay left. In this section, you’re exploring the land between the north and southbound sections of AZ-179; 0.87 mile from the trailhead, you’ll find the second tunnel. (Yes, you will hear the sounds of traffic in this area.)
From here on out you’re steadily hiking toward Cathedral Rock, one of our favorite monoliths. Behind you are sweeping views of Lee Mountain, the Nuns formation, Twin Buttes and Chapel of the Holy Cross. When you’ve hiked 1.56 miles, you’ll come across the junction of Templeton, HT and Slim Shady trails. Continue on Templeton, and you’ll reach our favorite part of the hike: the base of Cathedral Rock. Templeton hugs the foot of the formation while Cathedral’s domes and spires tower above you to the left. The trail skirts the north edge of the rock and passes by the Cathedral Rock Trail before making a sharp descent to Oak Creek. From here it meanders along the banks of Oak Creek, passing the Baldwin Trail 4.05 miles from the start of your journey. Templeton Trail officially ends at the south side of Crescent Moon Ranch (aka Red Rock Crossing) and Verde Valley School Road. Leave a second car at the trailhead on Verde Valley School Road or return the way you came for a gentle but lengthy 9-mile hike.