Cathedral Lakes Trail

MODERATE 255 reviews
#13 of 243 trails in

Cathedral Lakes Trail is a 8.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1,551 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

no dogs

The trail is fairly steep, rising 1,000 feet in about 3.5 miles. The trail is also located at high elevation, so the air is thinner, possibly causing those that are not acclimated to the elevation to tire faster, and fatigue. The view upon arrival is worth ever bit of work it takes to get there. Cathedral Peak rises beyond a pristine alpine lake. Along side of the lake a beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers adds color to this amazing landscape. It is truly paradise. But it is essential to register early if you plan to stay overnight. Wilderness Permits are required for overnight stays at the lakes.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
1 day ago

An amazing trail. The first half is a little tough going uphill due to altitude but it is an amazing workout and worth every step.

hiking
10 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike. Clear now, but when we went in early July (without the app) the trail still was covered in snow, it was easy to get lost and lose the trail. Load the map or know where you are headed if you go early in the season.

hiking
11 days ago

Just went on this trail a couple weeks ago. Amazing, and by far my favorite hike in our 4 day Yosemite camping trip. The best thing you can do is get to the trailhead as early as you can. We arrived at about 730am and could have gotten there a little earlier. The earlier you get there, the less people you see at the top. It was chilly in August up in the mountains when you’re not moving around, so bring a light jacket if you start super early like we did. The lakes are beautiful. Hit both of them. Stunning and gorgeous and almost 10,000 feet in the mountains means my flatlander self needed lots of water and maybe some altitude meds if you’re not used to it. I got by with just water, resting when needed, and deep breaths - and I’m from Nebraska. Snow on the ground...such a gorgeous hike. Put this on your list. We also did the sequoias, the Valley Loop, and Vernal Falls

hiking
16 days ago

Love this trail, but it can be strenuous!! There is a big incline the first part of the hike, straightens out a bit, and then you hit another incline. After the 2nd incline, it evens out again then you’ll run into a meadow and then you’ll see Upper Cathedral Lake. Very beautiful scenery. Also not too many mosquitos out, which is always a plus!It was very relaxing to spend time up there before heading back down the mountain.

hiking
18 days ago

Plenty of shade and clear path but that’s about it. There’s a couple of lakes at the end but honestly their just all right. There is nothing breathtaking about it. There are much better hikes in Yosemite. Maybe if I did this one first I would of appreciated it more. But I did it on my last day so it just wasn’t that impressive.

hiking
bugs
23 days ago

Went on Saturday, 8/24. My general assessment: very doable hike to some stunning Yosemite back-country scenery. There are two distinct uphill portions on the way to the lakes, as the map details illustrate. As the map details also illustrate, there’s a “decision point” along the trail—one leading to the lower lake, the other leading to the upper lake. But on the trail itself, only the westward branch (going to the lower lake) is labeled “Cathedral Lakes”; the southward branch (to the upper lake) makes no mention of Cathedral Lakes (it mentions a few other destinations, including Yosemite Valley, which is 19.6 miles from that spot). Both lakes are beautiful, but the upper lake is the more picturesque lake seen in most photos of the area. I definitely recommend it, particularly around sunset—but that does require a walk back to your car in the dark, so bring a good headlamp or flashlight.

hiking
23 days ago

nice trail and a solid hike. easy to get lost in some parts toward the end. the lake is worth the hike and easy to jump in

hiking
24 days ago

fun hike for the day. steep somewhat in beginning (nothing to terrible) then evens out more after that 1st mile. great views on way up and at the lake, trail run into snow (even in august) pretty cool. The lake (if brave the cold water) is easy to take a dip as the granite rock gos right to the water edge no mud or anything.

hiking
bugs
snow
1 month ago

My husband and I just did this hike two days ago. It was well worth it. The first half mile for me was a bit rough with the incline, but it levels out a bit after that. There were some mosquitoes, but it wasn’t terrible. We came upon some snow, which in August, was pretty shocking. Once we made it to the lake, it was beautiful. Great spots around the lake to rest a minute and eat before heading back down. It is mostly woods on this hike, but still beautiful views and sounds. We would definitely go again.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice hike - very busy. The lake is spectacular and it reflects the peak beautifully.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

we did this hike a couple af days ago. we started at 14.30 and it was quiet and good temperature. at that moment. Nice overview of the mountains. small part in snow. the lake is ame azing except for mousquito s. you need to pass a river and some boulders in the end.

hiking
1 month ago

99% of the trial is forest until the lakes at the end. A quite boring hike.

bugs
rocky
1 month ago

1 month ago

This was a nice trail in Yosemite. I've done alot of trailing at Yosemite and try doing something diffrent every time so this one's another one of the list. The trail is moderately long but with a long ascent to start the trail then it flattens out as you pass the granite mountain then you start descending to the trail junction to Cathedral Lakes. The trail splits to Upper and Lower Cathedral Lakes, most people I talked to didn't know that and only went to the one the sign pointed to which is Lower Cathedral. I had heard how bad the mosquitoes were at Lower Cathedral and damn they didn't dissapoint, those little suckers were relentless. The area at Lower Cathedral was really nice but I swear most people only stuck a couple minutes cause off the constant harassment of the mosquitoes. I went to Upper Cathedral first and the area wasn't as nice as Lower Cathedral but the lake was nicer, clearer more swimable and you can actually hang out there a long time without a swarm of mosquitoes attacking you, just a few hear and there. Overall it was just another great trail at Yosemite and then I hit Tuolumne Meadows after that.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

Good trail with good views. It ended up being just to easy for us and we did the whole trail in 3 1/2 hours. We were going to do it as an overnight trip but it ended up being really short and not difficult enough once we got to a campsite. I would recommend this trail to people looking for a quick day hike but not as an overnight trip. Overall good hike just not what we were looking for.

hiking
2 months ago

Hi, Today I have a chance to visit The Visitor center at Tuolumne meadows. The ranger told me the trail is okay with normal hiking booths. No special equipment required.

hiking
bugs
muddy
snow
2 months ago

Patchy snow and mud begins at Mendicott Dome for about a mile. Then it is clear until you get to the trail split to the lake. Some small stream crossings. Fair amount of mosquitoes on the trail, but not as bad as they are at the trailhead. It was a beautiful hike and I hope to go to the pass next time.

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