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Cathedral Lakes Trail

MODERATE 327 reviews
#13 of 245 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
6 days ago

This is a great day hike. Moderate elevation change with the steepest at the early portion of the trail. Great family hike as well with good opportunity for early teens to get some experience boldering and exploring the mountain slopes around the lake. Lake is beautiful as are the view of Cathedral Peak.

11 days ago

After hiking Vernal and Nevada Falls yesterday, I found this hike harder than expected because I was worn down, my arthritis was killing me, and because of the steep climb/high elevation. Cathedral Lake was peaceful and beautiful, which made the hike worthwhile.

hiking
rocky
16 days ago

hiking
rocky
20 days ago

Hands down worth the hike to both lakes ! Views were incredible .

hiking
off trail
21 days ago

Great trail! Starts with a steep mile uphill, then evens out and you climb some more. The Lower Lake is beautiful, but we thought the Upper Lake was even better (no matter what the brochures say). We did it in 5 hours and 15 minutes, but we chilled for half an hour at the Lower and half an hour at the Upper Lake.

hiking
1 month ago

Most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen. Trail is a bit hard to follow at the end but gosh is it worth it!!

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

The trail starts out pretty steep. Treking poles help a lot. Would not go on the trail without them. Lower Cathedral Lake is beautiful. Great lunch stop. Upper Cathedral Lake not much further of a hike. Worth the effort. Great day hike. People on the trail were really friendly. Definitely a do over.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Good hike in cool weather. The lake is beautiful, perfect spot to picnic and hang out. You can also loop around the lake which we decided not to do, but I’m sure it’s even more beautiful. Definitely a workout on the way there, but don’t underestimate the way back bc it’s so rocky it’s a lot of work on the knees and holding yourself back from flying down the mountain. Either way, a good one.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

Beautiful trail up in Tuolumne Meadows. Beautiful scenery and an amazing view of Cathedral Lakes. What more could you ask for?

recorded Cathedral Lakes Trail

hiking
1 month ago

Day hike in, night hike out. Most of the hike is through very pretty woods, so limited visibility of peaks in distance. The payoff at the end is absolutely worth every step and then some. Cathedral peak rises up from the ridge and horIzon and immediately captures your attention and won’t let go. Possible to circumambulate the lake, which I did most of the way. Tried climbing up the rocky hill to get a better view of Upper Cathedral Lake in its entirety, but it was very steep so stopped about halfway up. Watching the sun set on the peak as it reflected in the lake below and the world was reverentially still was breath taking. Nearly all of my life is filled with doing, so even a few minutes of being (not doing) was more than enough to bring a smile to my face.

hiking
1 month ago

We did this hike on the last day of our stay at YNP. Tioga Rd. was closed earlier in the week due to snow. It turned out to be one of our favorites. Our group hiked to the upper and lower lakes and were rewarded with stunning views of Cathedral peak and these pristine alpine lakes do not disappoint. The conditions were a little muddy in spots and snow still on trail in the shade but no need for traction devices. Do it before Tioga closes for the season well worth it!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

Its a lovely trail even though the altitud plays tricks on you on your way up. Make sure you take your time so you can take little breaks, and enjoy the lake views for a while!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

Definitely a great hike. I would recommend getting there as early as you can. There is parking by the trailhead, just be mindful of the food in your car. The trail is moderate with a few switchbacks. The first 1.5 miles has a large elevation change with some pretty steep rocks. It’s more of a 9 mile hike to just one lake. Including the other lake would add another 2 miles to the trip.

hiking
1 month ago

Great moderate hike in the northern portion of Yosemite. As others have mentioned, two short uphill sections separated by two fairly flat sections. We just went to Upper Cathedral Lake since we didn’t have time to see both lakes, and it was beautiful. Sat out on a rock on the lake eating lunch and soaking our feet in the water. The trail wasn’t very crowded either which was nice - there were only two other groups hanging out at the lake on a Saturday. If you’re feeling brave bring a towel and jump in for a swim!

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing views both up and down. 4 hours walking, plus plenty of breaks for our 10-month old. We loved the Upper Cathedral lake vista, with plenty of resting spots for lunch!

hiking
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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

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