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Cathedral Lakes Trail

MODERATE 303 reviews
#13 of 244 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
23 hours 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
2 days ago

hiking
4 days 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
8 days 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
8 days ago

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

hiking
8 days 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
9 days 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
10 days 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
10 days 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
11 days 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
24 days ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
30 days 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
2 months 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
2 months ago

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

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