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Cathedral Lakes Trail

MODERATE 145 reviews
#12 of 211 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.

hiking
2 days ago

This was my very first hike and it was spectacular! I started at 6:30 AM and quickly learned that the trail wouldn't be as easy as I had thought. The first 1.5 miles are a strenuous uphill walk. I was completely exhausted within the first 10 minutes but the reward at the end was worth it. I started at 6:30 AM and was back at the trailhead at 10:20 AM.

Lower Cathedral Lake was absolutely gorgeous. I was the only one at the lake so it was like my own retreat. I would definitely hike this trail again and I recommend this trail for beginner hikers. Just bring plenty of water. I went through 4 bottles.

hiking
13 days ago

nice hike but not super scenic on the way. The lakes are beautiful, specially the upper one. Make sure you take a good mosquito spray. I have never seen so many mosquitoes in my life !

hiking
15 days ago

During Late-July, the weather was filled with clear and smoky skies. The Ferguson fire made a big impact on the conditions. Most of the day in Tuolumne Meadows, the skies were blue until around 3pm. At the trail head, park along the road. Find yourself hiking up the transverse. The elevation is pretty high for a valley person like me. Warming upwards, the hike is nice but very popular. The climb from the trail head to lower Cathedral Lake is around 1000 feet. Climb another 200 feet to the Upper Cathedral Lake which provided another good view. Throughout the hike, find flowers and foliage that are pretty. Overall, nice hike.

hiking
16 days ago

Hiked on 7/24. LOTS of smoke from the Ferguson fire. Trail has a small rocky section (around mile 3.5) that may be hard for small children/adults with balance issues. Lakes totally worth the climb. BRING WATER.

Very hard at the beginning but so nice !

hiking
25 days ago

Love this trail. Beautiful scenery along the trail that finally opens up to an amazing meadow, the likes of which I had never seen growing up in Vegas. I don't think we actually made it to the upper lake because we couldn't really tell where the trail continued from, but we were certainly satisfied with what we did see. The first climb at the beginning can be hard, but then it gets pretty easy.

1 month ago

beautiful views

hiking
1 month 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!

1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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.

2 months 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
2 months 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
8 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.

8 months ago

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

9 months ago

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

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
10 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
10 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
10 months ago

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

hiking
11 months ago

Road is rocky, hard to walk

hiking
11 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.

11 months ago

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

hiking
11 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.

11 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
Saturday, July 29, 2017

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

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.

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