EveryTrail is now a part of AllTrails! Please click here to read more.

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
1 month ago

generally: moderate trail near campground, trail itself is ok, rocky/dusty with numerous switchbacks; trail is mostly about the destination of the lake which is beautiful, large lake, perfect for swimming in summer
fairly busy in the summer

1 month ago

We got to the trailhead early. It was a crisp 21 degrees at 7am. The beginning of the hike (first mile) is the hardest (moderate level). The hike has a great path that not too rocky and gorgeous views of the mountains peaking through the trees throughout the hike. You arrive to the lake and it’s definitely chilly, but we were the only ones and it was amazing to have the entire lake to ourselves. Great moderate level hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous hike! The views as you’re about to reach the lake are grand and gorgeous. The lake breeze was pretty chilly so bring some extra layers if you’re going to hang out for a bit.

hiking
1 month ago

Good hike. Cathedral Peak is quite something. We went mid October and there were no mosquitoes.

hiking
2 months ago

Although someone said journey matters not destination, in this case the at times strenuous journey was more than made up for by the incredibly beautiful lake! If you’re not acclimated to being around 9000ft above sea level- it’s gonna hurt as you heave up the first mile or so, and not so easy coming down either. But can be done take lotsa water and take it a little slow. Better to acclimatize drink some cocoa leaves tea , or matte is said to work good as well! Enjoy!

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing Views! Possibly my favorite hike yet.

hiking
2 months ago

Great views! Best going lower 1st, because the upper it's amazing! We spent 6 hours, almost 2 relaxing and taking pictures.

hiking
2 months ago

Takes a good 3 hours round trip, plus time to relax at lakes. Very beautiful area makes it worth the hike there. Bring lots of water!

3 months ago

This hike was a favorite! The views of Lower Cathedral Lake was awesome!! Upper Cathedral Lake was surprisingly windy. This hike has so many great views and a scenic walk in the woods. Most of the incline is at the beginning while your legs are fresh. Worst part was all the horse poop.

hiking
3 months ago

Fun hike most of the uphill is at the start of the trail. Saw a Coyote in the trail so keep your eyes peeled.

3 months ago

Great hike! Shout out to Brianna and China for not waking up and coming with me. Enjoy the awesome pics pendejas!

hiking
3 months ago

Did this 9/2 to 9/3 - so happy there were no mosquitoes in sight. Perfect weather, not too crowded despite being a holiday weekend. Camped overnight at Upper Cathedral lake, and only saw two other small campsites set up. This is such a beautiful area. We arrived at the walk-in reservation station off Tioga Pass and had to wait about a half hour and listen to the rangers give speeches about responsible backpacking, which were actually great reminders. But glad we were able to secure walk in reservations.

hiking
3 months ago

Really awesome trail! My first trail out of Tuolumne Meadows. A little tough in the beginning but quite a few flat sections to catch your breath. If you want to extend the hike a bit I highly recommend walking around the lake when you get there.

backpacking
3 months ago

My favorite relatively easy backpacking trip. I kind of want to do this every summer. It’s so beautiful. If they allowed me (and I was engaged), I would get married here.

backpacking
3 months ago

Amazing hike, and super rewarding once you get to the lake. We went there in early June, so there was a lot of snow on Upper Cathedral Lake and a lot of rushing water at the lower end of it. We then went on the Sunrise Lakes, Cloud’s Rest, down to Yosemite Valley.

hiking
3 months ago

Did the hike in early June during my first time in Tuolomne Meadows. Found it more strenuous than usual for the elevation gain because of the higher altitude. Got a bit confused and diverted from the trail at the last bit before reaching the lake. The view of Cathedral peak was impressive.

hiking
3 months ago

The hike is not very strenuous or difficult in any way, although there is some elevation gain and you already start at higher elevation, making things a little more difficult. Moderate feels like an appropriate rating... The hike itself offers little in the way of views until you get to the lakes, which, however, are beautiful and well worth the effort, and provide a good alternative to the over-crowded valley floor. If you want to see a part of Yosemite that is less touristy, this is a good choice.

hiking
3 months 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
4 months 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
4 months 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
4 months 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.

4 months ago

Very hard at the beginning but so nice !

hiking
4 months 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.

5 months ago

beautiful views

hiking
5 months 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!

5 months 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
5 months 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
5 months 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.

6 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
6 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).

Load More