Cathedral Lakes Trail

MODERATE 130 reviews
#14 of 208 trails in

Cathedral Lakes Trail is a 8.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mariposa, 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

birding

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

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. The campgrounds fill up fast.

7 days ago

beautiful views

hiking
7 days ago

This was one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done! The trip up is a bit steep at 1500-foot elevation climb, but I enjoyed the challenge! There’s a freshwater spring in the middle of the hike which makes for a perfect break point. The beautiful stream, view of the mountains, and view of the forest was incredible.
Once we got to Cathedral Lake, the views only got better! I wish I’d brought a dry change of clothes to take a dip in the picturesque lake, but there was a strong breeze so we only waded out to where the water reached our shorts. Gorgeous view of the lake and mountain. Highly recommend this hike/possible swim!

9 days ago

We went up to the lake lake last Friday 07.06.18
Hike was 8 miler moderate r/t.
Beautiful views, and swim at the lake was awesome. Definitely my bucket list for backpacking soon!

hiking
17 days ago

We went to the Upper Cathedral Lake and it was beautiful. We were told from a local that there was a ridge that we could walk on that would offer us views from 4 different lakes. Im not sure if we truly ever found the spot, but we did get some great views of lower cathedral Lake! Bring lots of bug spray and loose clothing!

hiking
25 days ago

Gorgeous views from both lakes. The hike up is fairly steep - definitely leaves you winded! But it’s a good hike and the views are fantastic. Definitely go to the Upper Lake. We liked those views best! Only reason it’s not 5 stars is the bugs. The mosquitoes are killer - I used a ton of bug spray and still got eaten alive.

1 month ago

Relatively easy, accessible hike to a beautiful lake-mountain view. As of a couple of days ago, it does get a bit muddy at spots. The trail out of the woods to the lake is mostly covered in mud and water so a path seems to have emerged left of the actual trail (see my posted hike). Go all the way to the end of the posted hike for upper lake as that is where the money shot was for pics and sitting for lunch.

backpacking
1 month ago

Went in late August and it was a great trail. Good hike. If I remember correctly there are some gradual uphill switchbacks, but nothing too challenging. The destination takes the cake. Camped at Upper Cathedral Lake for a little more privacy, but it’s a popular spot so you’ll be around other campers regardless. Got on the trail late. Saw a few people heading back from their day trek so the motivated can do it in one day, but I highly recommend camping there. Got very chilly at night, but the stars were brilliant (as expected in Yosemite).

hiking
1 month ago

As per other recent reviews in May 2018, this trail is still quite snow covered. Took us way longer and was more of a trudge than we’d planned for. Just be wary it will take longer (path hard to keep to, little to no markers) and be more arduous. We visited both lakes, and preferred solitude of the upper lake.

1 month ago

Beautiful at the lake and following Cathedral Peak up. But going up right after Tioga rd opens is not recommended, over half the trail is covered in snow with no real trail markers. Everyone got lost going up and down and the meadow is a marsh. Wait a few weeks to go! I would have given a lower rating, but could see how this trail would be nice under normal conditions)

hiking
1 month ago

The view at the lake is every bit as incredible and "worth it" as everyone says, but be aware that if you're hiking this trail before the snow melts, it can be quite difficult. The elevation gain is intense, and much of the trail is covered in snow and not always well-marked, so be prepared to get a tad lost a few times if you don't have GPS. Bring layers, hiking poles, and leave early enough so you can spend lots of time at the lake. It's gorgeous!

hiking
7 months ago

By far the greatest hike my girlfriend and I have ever been on. We went on the last weekend that the Tioga Pass was open, no one was on the trailhead. We too the lower lake route. The first mile is the hardest, gaining elevation really fast. We took a few breaks when needed. The rest was fine. I recommend going the end of October/start of November if you want the best view. There was some snow from a recent rain, rivers & waterfalls frozen. I plan on doing this hike again next year.

7 months ago

Good day hike. We did it with some snow on the trail, which made it a little more challenging.

8 months ago

Wonderful memories revisited and a great workout.
Love being up here in Autumn!

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Definitely recommend this trail to everyone. Went this past Tuesday & the weather was lovely! We even caught a few glimpses of snow. The beginning was a little steep and had me out of breathe but it got much better. The only reason I won’t rate it five stars is due to lack of signs on the way back from the trail. It can be confusing. Boyfriend and I came across a hiker who was lost & we worked together to find our way back on the trail.

hiking
9 months ago

Good hike; some (but not many) views along the away but the lake and mountains view at the end are worth it.

rock climbing
9 months ago

We overnighted near the base of Cathedral Peak, just beyond the Budd Lakes drainage. Spectacular views!

hiking
10 months ago

Road is rocky, hard to walk

hiking
10 months ago

Pretty hike, I went to the upper lake and on the return trip stopped by the lower lake. Both lakes had there own beauty. Saw several deer along the way. On the way down keep an eye out for little waterfall next to trail, note water source is coming out of ground.

10 months ago

Nice hike with beautiful lake views. Unfortunately, there were too many mosquitoes to properly enjoy the lake.

hiking
10 months ago

Hiking + Swimming ~ Moderate trail as noted. Pretty long uphill at the start to a quick descent back to another relatively short climb for a final downhill to the lake. Took a right and headed the lower lake. There's a few heavily run deer trails which and lead you off the main if you get distracted and try to follow the stream downhill, so keep your eyes peeled. Once you make it to the final meadow you'll know you're there. Enjoy the swim, but be sure you're up for it as it's just a little bit chilly. As a side note read up the night before on local fires or the like - had to add 60 miles roundtrip due to fires near Glacier Point which added an hour each way to the drive.

10 months ago

Absolutely breathtaking both elevation-wise and scenery. We got an early start and had lunch by Lower Cathedral Lake. In the return hike we saw a deer. Very serene.

backpacking
11 months ago

Cathedral Lakes is the sight to see. Tough climb to get there but well worth it!

11 months ago

Enjoyable moderate hike with some typical Yosemite granite cliff scenery. As of 7/28 there is zero snow on the trail - its muddy at times and bug spray is still a must. The sign at the intersection is confusing because it points down to "Cathedral Lake' (not Lower) while the trail up doesn't mention Upper Cathedral at all. The final .5 to Lower Cathedral is a bit of a logistical challenge - pretty swampy, a balance beam style log crossing over a still powerful stream and a lot of trees down and no obvious indication of where the trail goes. Lost it a couple times. If you've never done it before, feel confident in your ability to retrace your steps with landmarks or use a GPS/map and compass to be sure you're going the right way. You probably can't get too lost with Cathedral Peak and a loud stream to use to keep your bearings, but hazards await if you're careless. Upper Cathedral is smooth sailing, so long as you are well-DEETed.

hiking
11 months ago

The fifth day of Yosemite hiking: We hiked from Tioga Road to Lower Cathedral Lake. The bugs were terrible.

hiking
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Awesome trail with trees, creeks and extraordinary view of the cathedral peak and the granite rocks than surround the lakes. On the way up we encountered the trail covered of snow but easy to follow. At the end the spectacular and frozen cathedral lake. Quiet and relaxing. I couldn't resist the temptation to jump in the water. We rest a little and enjoy the most exquisite view in front of us. Beautifully amazing.

hiking
Sunday, July 09, 2017

You'll need a GPS to navigate the snow melts, which cover about a 3rd of the trail. You'll also get wet, especially as you get closer to the lake. I was given advice that once you reach the fork that goes down to the lake, stay off the trail and keep to the right of the stream to minimize the amount of bog you go through. As long as you keep it within earshot, it's hard to not end up at the lake.

Monday, April 17, 2017

This hike is worth it! Once you reach the top the view is absolutely stunning! I will be doing this one again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Was amazing a bit hard at the very beginning but worth everything!!

hiking
Monday, March 13, 2017

Beautiful hike to some alpine lakes. The first part of the hike is actually pretty steep, but as soon as you get past that, it's an easy and enjoyable hike. We got lost for a few minutes on the return portion because the trail wasn't marked very well. There were a fair amount of people on the trail. I recommend this hike if you want a day or two outside of Yosemite Valley. Tuolumne Meadows area is very beautiful and worth the drive!

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