Cathedral Lake Trail is a 5.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 5.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,073 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Directions from Aspen: Drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82. At the roundabout, turn onto Castle Creek Road. Drive 12.2 miles up Castle Creek and turn right (shortly after passing Ashcroft) onto a gravel road, driving a 1/2 mile to the trailhead.

hiking
icy
snow
1 day ago

Be prepared for rapid elevation gain if you’re not used to it. It was a great workout with some decent views but we were unable to make it all the way to the lake with the snow. If you’re in it for the views alone I think you have better options close by.

hiking
scramble
snow
3 days ago

We attempted to hike the trail on 20 May 2020. It was a beautiful and challenging hike up for out of state hikers. There is a warning that bear spray is required. We were unable to finish the hike as a big snowfield hid a portion of the trail and we were unsure where to keep hiking, so we did not make it to the lake. However, the views were breathtaking. I would go back.

hiking
muddy
snow
6 days ago

This is the earliest in the year I’ve ever done this trail. The last 1/2 mile or so is still very full of soft snow - without snowshoes (I took them off to test), I was post-holing 2-2.5ft deep. Would give it another 2-3 weeks (at our current weather conditions) before the snow is manageable without gear for most of the last half mile-ish. Lake is still 95% frozen but beautiful as always!

6 months ago

long and difficult but so worth it. recommend hiking poles

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
7 months ago

Great hike. For the two of us from the Nebraska plains it was a hard hike mainly because of rapid elevation gain. Otherwise it was great. Took us total of 4 hours to go up and down with lots of brakes. Hiked on 10-26-2019. lake was already frozen and lots of snow on the trail. Still doable. The views are stunning! Will do it again in the summer.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful trail- I’d rate it moderate rather than difficult. It is steep but the trail is well maintained and pretty open. I hiked it on 10-19-19 and would recommend bringing micro spikes for at least the last quarter of the trail. The switchbacks up to the lake were icy and it snowed last night. The lake is just starting to ice over. Really gorgeous views.

hiking
7 months ago

Trail is in great shape. Likely due to fall, but no over hanging brush. Steep, but beautiful. Lake just beginning to freeze over at the edges.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

hiking
over grown
rocky
8 months ago

Great hiking! Starting from an off-road entrance with golden aspens aside. Rocky trails in the lower attitude aspens and overgrown bushes above the pine lines have covered the trails and it might be misleading for hikers. Pay extra attentions. Make it in 3 hours and a half for almost 7 miles.

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Fall colors are at their peak and the views from this hike were gorgeous. It's definitely uphill the whole way with a few fairly challenging parts. Makes you feel like you've earned your lunch break at gorgeous Cathedral Lake. It's a very rocky trail so highly recommend decent footwear. The tiny parking lot was full but there's parking along the road. Might not want to do the 3/4 mile drive to the trailhead in a low clearance vehicle if rough roads stress you out. But there were definitely sedans that made it.

hiking
8 months ago

Faboulous hike. Not that easy but totally doable. I have a fear of heights but it did not bother me on this trail

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Extraordinary hike! Very difficult but extremely beautiful. The colors of the Aspen are just on fire right now. We ended up skipping the electric pass and just went to the lake instead. Poles helped. Rough driveway into the trailhead, probably not recommended for low clearance vehicles.

hiking
8 months ago

Moderately challenging for experienced hikers and totally worth it! Beautiful views!

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

My experience is probably specific to the shoulder-season, but I got to the trailhead lot at around noon, no trouble parking (rocky entry road but fine in a full-size sedan), and very few people on the trail. The uphill is challenging, and having poles for the downhill helped. The one thing I’d say is indispensable is wearing hiking shoes, NOT running shoes. I had a 3L hydration pack and that was the perfect amount with a granola bar and some electrolyte tablets. Really stunning hike and a beautiful drive. Oh, and as everyone else mentions, it’s ~6.4 from the trailhead, NOT 5.3. You won’t see the lake if you plan for 5.3.

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

First, this trail is longer than 5.4 miles as someone said. If you start where it turns off Castle Creek road, it’s a little over 7. If you brave the very bumpy road and start from actual trailhead it’s 6.25 or so. Lovely views around every bend, but not for the faint of heart. For true nature/wilderness lovers. The trail is narrow at times, with steep drop offs. For me, 40 something who lives at sea level, it was quite challenging but very rewarding to finally reach the lake.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful hike. Pretty difficult if you’re not an experienced hiker- bring snacks and plenty of water

hiking
9 months ago

Nice trail with a great payoff! There were some bugs at the lake but we weren’t really bothered by them. There are some areas where there is little to no shade on the trail so I’d recommend doing it early. I would love to come back in the fall to see the aspen forest. Road up to the trailhead is bumpy & must be taken slow. Didn’t need a 4x4 vehicle, though. Very dog-friendly trail!

hiking
9 months ago

This hike was 7.0 miles, not 5.3, but an awesome hike!

hiking
9 months ago

A beautiful short hike and not as hard as many reviews make it out to be just take your time and enjoy the scenery and if it’s a hot day get in that water!

hiking
9 months ago

First hike with Augie

hiking
9 months ago

One of my favorite trails I’ve done. Picturesque views throughout the whole trail, there isn’t a boring stretch like most trails. No real difficult parts, but uphill the whole way out that can add up. The 0.5 mile access road had some rocky parts that were rough for a car, but doable if you take it slow. Highly recommend!

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

This is a beautiful trail! There were lots of wildflowers everywhere. The trail has so many different landscapes to see from wooded areas to a valley with the river running through it, to beautiful Mountain View’s. I would definitely recommend this trail. Although it is a little harder trail it is worth it!

recorded Cathedral Lake Trail

hiking
bugs
rocky
9 months ago

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