We don’t hike much during this time of the year, however, if we’re going to spend time on a trail, Baldwin ticks all of the boxes for a summertime jaunt. It’s in close proximity to Oak Creek, so we can take a dip before or after our hike. It boasts jaw-dropping views of Cathedral Rock, our favorite Sedona landmark. And it’s short, coming in at 2.5 miles round trip. If you hike it backward, it’s even better.
The official trailhead is on Verde Valley School Road, across from a large dirt parking lot. Don’t start here, though. Walk to the end of Verde Valley School Road, and maneuver between a gap in the fence. Turn right toward Cathedral Rock. Oak Creek and its lush banks are on your left. The trail traverses shade and slick rock before becoming a wide, sandy path with those aforementioned views of Cathedral Rock that make even longtime residents pull out their camera phones. After hiking 0.62 mile, you’ll see a sign for Baldwin Loop on your right. Keep going. Baldwin Trail once again crosses your path 0.81 miles from your car. This time, turn right. The trail remains relatively flat and then starts to climb 1.12 miles into your hike. Once you reach the top of the climb, look to the left for more views of Cathedral Rock. From here you’ll also see Castle Rock and the grounds of Verde Valley School. Hiline Trail intersects with Baldwin 1.37 miles into your journey – stay right. You know you’ve hiked nearly 2 miles when you reach a stand of spindly ocotillo trees, which were in bloom with red flowers during our hike. (The plethora of prickly pear cactus that thrive along this trail were also in bloom with pink, yellow and peach blossoms.) The trail continues to loop, paralleling Verde Valley School Road until it ends at the trailhead that you initially passed up. Walk back across the street and you’re in the lot where you parked your car, or head back down the road to swim in the creek.