Cathedral Lake Trail

HARD 151 reviews

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

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

walking

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
2 days ago

Beautiful scenery the entire walk and quite spectacular at the top. Considering the low mileage the solitude at the top was surprising.

6 days ago

This hike was stunning. It was a pretty quick one, it took us two hours to get to the top. The trail itself was easy and well maintained, the hard rating is due to the near constant elevation gain.

hiking
9 days ago

The hardest part is the last stretch before you top out to reach the lake, so be prepared for that. The switchbacks are very steep and in the sun. There were a LOT of gnats around the lake but the views were beautiful.

We started at 8am and the trail was pretty unpopulated. We ran into a LOT of people making their way up as we came down, including people blasting music from their phones (please do not blast music on trails).

13 days ago

Challenging, but totally worth it. It was a steady uphill with some switchbacks to start, followed by some serious rock navigation. The toughest part was the switchbacks up the mountainside around mile 2. Poles would be handy. the lake was gorgeous and peaceful.

hiking
16 days ago

Wonderful hike but it was tough for us two 50-something flatlanders with only one day acclimating. Loved lake.

17 days ago

Hard but really rewarding with beautiful vast views and the lake at as a nice reward at the end. Difficult and moderate parts with beautiful waterfalls and wildflowers. Looking forward to doing it again. A fun hike with friends.

hiking
27 days ago

We hiked in late July on a Saturday and the trail head parking area was full. We parked on the road with a large number of hikers. The trail rating is correct and the trail is well maintained. There were lots of wildflowers and a number of scenic views. The area near the lake and the lake itself were great.

backpacking
28 days ago

Great views!!

hiking
30 days ago

Wildflowers are out and beautiful!

hiking
1 month ago

Hard hike but just as scenic the entire way up as at the top. We got lost at the top, so stay left and cross the creek. No snow on the trail as of 6/16.

2 months ago

Awesome trail, no snow at all. Took us 3 hours with a short lunch break at the lake.

hiking
2 months ago

As of 6/1/18 the top is still snowpacked and the trail easily lost. Can’t wait for a few more weeks to try it again.

2 months ago

Beautiful trail! As of 5/26/18, the top portion of the switchbacks are still snowpacked and extremely difficult to traverse, and the lake is frozen. If you are hiking to see the lake, I would recommend waiting a few more weeks. I am excited to try the hike again later in the summer.

8 months ago

Stunning views!

hiking
10 months ago

Awesome trail! Beautiful views! Lake was a beautiful turquoise color. Shortly after reaching the lake the sun went behind the clouds and a weather system came in so we had some snow! Continuous assent made it challenging and going down wasn't any easier. Would definitely go again though.

hiking
10 months ago

Went October 5th from 11-4pm. Took me and my girlfriend visiting from FL about 5 hours and was very difficult for us. The switchbacks towards the end were very muddy and had a lot of slush making that last bit very dangerous and nerve wrecking! Saw others with poles going up with ease. The view was absolutely breathtaking and so worth all the struggle ✌

hiking
11 months ago

Road to parking lot a bit bumpy. First to the lot for the day. 34 degrees to start, but was down to short shirt sleeves in 1/4 mile. Aspens are starting to look beautiful in several areas. Hike was hard, but very much worth it.

11 months ago

Aspens had just begun to turn which made an incredible hike even more so. It was strenuous but well worth it.

hiking
11 months ago

Absolutely beautiful start to finish. Sept 1 , parts of the aspen groves have started to change to gold. There is a side trail to see castle creek acting more like a rushing waterfall just past the aspens. Once you get through the switchbacks, you're solid! A lot of different trails to get across the creek to the lake, they all seemed to work fine. Hike around the lake to the boulder field for best views and a great lunch spot. 4.5 hours round trip with a lunch break !

11 months ago

Challenging but an awesome beautiful hike!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The first .7 miles or so is easy and covered by Aspen trees. After that, it starts to get rough. While it is a steady climb, if you are acclimated here in CO...you will be fine. My 8 year old dog and I (24) did it in four hours. There is a pretty big waterfall just off the trail after you come to a little clearing (stay right here). After a while, you will come to a spot where you can go left to the river or right...go right! It is a bit of a rock scramble from there. Then you follow the trail until you hit the super steep 1/4 of a mile climb up the switchbacks. From there it is another ten minutes or so, when you get to the stream...stay left for an easy hop to the other side. If you are hiking with your pup...bring water! The stream isn't until the very end but there is a spot where you get closer to the water and can take the trail down on the left to let them get some water for them. So worth it!! Tons of wildflowers along the way and the trail is easy to follow. No snow left and the lake is completely thawed.

hiking
Sunday, August 06, 2017

Amazing beauty the whole time! The end is absolutely spectacular. The lake is so cool. Would not recommend this trail to beginners or those who are not in good physical shape: the trail is constantly uphill and extremely steep towards the end.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Extremely difficult hike, but so worth it for the view.

hiking
Friday, July 07, 2017

A good hike for the area. Completed it this morning. There was still a little bit of snow but nothing that you can't easily avoid. There was also one small section of mud, but again easy to maneuver. Eventually, right before the lake, you come to a "T" in the trail and a stream. There are stepping rocks in the stream but most of them were under water, not a problem for high top waterproof hiking shoes..but, if you take the trail to the left a few feet there's a big boulder and it was very easy to step up on the boulder and over the stream.

hiking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

gorgeous, pretty strenuous hike - went in early june and there was still a TON of snow. spent the last 1.5 miles crossing the snow. would bring different footwear next time. would love to see the lake when its not frozen!

hiking
Friday, June 23, 2017

A pleasant hike, yes strenuous, but a nice gain in elevation at a quick rate, The payoff is well worth the trek. Having been on this trail twice I have experienced different conditions: the first time up, the wether was cool and drizzly and the only concern was slippery, muddy surfaces on some hairy-steep switchbacks. However, the second time around, just this last June, included a great deal of snow at expecially critical points in the trail-- namely, the boulder field and at the top of the switchbacks as you reach the plateau where the lake sits. Just enough of the unexpected that added a welcome challenge to the hike. The lake was still frozen but the beer and the jerky at the top, and a little snooze in the warm sun before heading back down sealed the deal. I highly recommend this trail.

hiking
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fun hike and lots of great views along the way. Lake was about half frozen over and expect snow the last mile or so. Trail is difficult to follow at the top (due to the snow), but if you follow the river (don't cross it) - you shouldn't have an issue finding the lake.

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Amazing hike. Aspen groves in the beginning are beautiful. Once you get a little higher there is a section of aspen grove that has been strewn across the trail from a winter avalanche. Nothing you cant walk over or around though. A few snow patches on the way up. The last 1/4 mile after the steep switch backs is completely snow covered and you will likely lose the trail. Follow the footprints and you should be fine. If you lose the trail just walk up toward the cirque and follow the creek. Lake is frozen over but still amazing. Enjoy and don't be afraid of the snow.

hiking
Sunday, November 13, 2016

What a hike! Probably saw about a dozen people over the 6 hours we were there. Gets steep at times, but the views are well worth it, and the lake at the end is pristine and beautiful. Had great weather, especially for October.

Friday, October 21, 2016

gorgeous! my legs got a great work out.

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