The Golden Cathedral Trail is a 14.6 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Escalante, Utah that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and nature trips and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 14.6 km Elevation Gain: 482 m Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

nature trips

views

rocky

no shade

This hike takes you to the Golden Cathedral at the bottom of Neon Canyon. Do not underestimate this hike. On paper it doesn't seem like it should be too difficult, but it is more challenging than most expect. The route crosses the open, arid desert in constant sun over a mixture of sandstone and loose sand. The loose sand zaps forward momentum making you work for each step. Winds can pick up sand and blow it in your eyes. The constant sun and high temperatures will dehydrate you quicker than usual. Many groups--even prepared ones--have had dehydration issues. Bring more water than you expect and a filter to resupply at the river. (the river is very silty so consider bringing a pre-filter as well). Follow existing trails and take care to avoid the cryptobiotic soil crust as one foot print takes decades to recover from. The cryptobiotic soil crust is what holds the loose sand together so vegetation can grow.

hiking
18 minutes ago

We hiked in on the Fence Canyon route (main route) and brought a cheap tube to float the Escalante to Neon Canyon. Highly recommended and unique! You'll get stuck in the shallows, get thrown into the sides, and have to portage in places but it's so worth it. Keep those feet downstream and you can push off the sides without getting stabbed haha. We hung out in the Cathedral for two hours and even got 45 minutes of privacy at noon on a weekday. We brought a racquetball to throw against the sides. I could listen to that echo all day. Might be obnoxious to others, so I stopped when others showed up. I also recommend Monty Python Gregorian chants in there. Pretty much any sound is amazing. You can hear a pin drop. Just don't be annoying if others are there. We hiked out via the cross country route which cut off several miles. Tough climb out up the sand but worth it. Definitely filter water at your one river crossing for this route. You'll need it unless you enjoy dehydration. I didn't love being surrounded by dark clouds on the hike back to the trailhead in the afternoon because you sure are exposed out there. No lightning strikes though, so if was all good. Made great time back! I might leave the Cathedral earlier next time... This hike/float was amazeballs.

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
scramble
6 days ago

Great hike...things to know: bring tevas to change into for river crossings. Bring LOTS of water, it takes 6-8 hrs depending on speed and how long you hang at the cathedral. It feels like way more than 1500 elevation gain on way out and almost everyone we ran into on way out was struggling with heat and the climb. Still it is a gorgeous hike out, the golden cathedral is pretty cool and the dips in the river are welcome breaks for your feet!

hiking
14 days ago

Duuuude. If you’ve been in quarantine and haven’t worked out for the last two months...SKIP this trail. Otherwise gorgeous and totally worth it kicking my ass. BRING plenty of water...especially if you have a dog...once you think you have enough pack more. We almost ran out on the way back but didn’t thanks to a fellow hiker who offered up some of his.

hiking
no shade
19 days ago

Nice hike! Make sure to download the map offline as some parts on the trail are hard to follow. The first half has no shade so try to get at it before the midday heat and make sure to bring plenty of water! We took a dip in the Escalante River once we got to the second half of the hike and it was glorious. Highly recommend! Neon Canyon has spectacular views, and seeing the petroglyphs was super nifty too. Lots of sand on this hike which can be hard to tread through with lots of gears so pack light as possible.

hiking
23 days ago

Great hike. We backpacked in for one night. Free overnight permits are available at the trailhead. There is 4-5 river crossings. Water was no more than thigh deep at some points. For those wanting to rappel. This is not the way in for the rappel option. Bring plenty of water. The last two miles out are not fun. Lots of sand and some steep climbs to get back to the Egypt trailhead parking lot. Download the map, the cairns are not clearly visible at the beginning of the hike. Also we discovered following the cairns back added more miles to this hike. Always check the weather so you don’t get stuck in a flash flood

no shade
25 days ago

one of my all time favorite hikes! took us about 5 hrs, but we swam around in the river for a minute ( highly recommend). we got lucky and caught some cloud cover on our way out- otherwise it's HOT! very minimal shade options, you can huddle under some of the junipers. I wouldn't recommend taking pups out past midmay- the sand is HOT. we hiked in chacos/ keens which I would recommend. the river is about 20-30ft wide and about thigh high( I'm 5'9) over all it was amazing and I will 100% be back!

hiking
29 days ago

Beautiful hike, but more like 12 miles than 9.1! We added a little distance by staying in the river rather than crossing multiple times. The water was knee deep most of the time but waist deep in a few places. We read that high clearance 4wd was needed to reach the trailhead. We did it easily in an Outback.

No idea how this is described as 9 miles. We did it in 12.7 without any real deviation from the path. One star off just to flag that warning! Absolutely beautiful hike start to finish. Difficult to do the up on the return portion after so many miles in, so just make sure your timing it right so it’s not heat of the day. The Escalante was about hip high, which we were nervous about for getting our dog across but had no problems. You can also camp at the trailhead (with an easy to get permit), which would be fun and worthwhile give how long it takes to drive Hole in the Rock Rd.

hiking
1 month ago

As the consensus seems to be, bring a downloaded map to use with your phone's GPS. It's not hard to see the general direction you need to go if you do that. There is no one clear path on the way down from the trailhead because it's kind of all slickrock at first. It's steep. Not quite scrambling but if you're afraid of heights it might give you pause. After you get down the initial descent over slickrock, you trek across a combo of sand and more slickrock, which is generally flat or slightly downsloping. You then reach kind of a rim of a canyon that joins up with the canyon where the Escalante river is. After taking some switchbacks down ( not many, but the trail is not always incredibly clear), you will wind up at your first river crossing. It looks daunting, but when we went (early May) it was thigh deep at the most. it's pretty cold. You cross the river several times. We actually waded through the river a bit to the next crossing. it's never super deep. the floor of the river is very sandy at times or very rocky. I walked barefoot through it, which I wouldn't recommend. Eventually you leave the river for good, turning left into Neon Canyon. Again, no one clear path, but staying low is generally useful. After 20 minutes of being in Neon Canyon, you'll reach the cathedral. It's spectacular and serene. Things to consider: 1) most of this trail is exposed. It was only 70 degrees when we went, but I can imagine it could be miserable on a hot day. 2) lots of cairns, but not always easy to see, and if you haven't done this hike at least once you will get lost 3) animals you'll see: tons of lizards and some birds. Also saw a pretty long snake, no idea what kind. 4) a lot of people overnight it but you can absolutely do this as a day hike if you are a somewhat avid hiker. The roads to get there, while nothing extreme, are the worst part imo.

hiking
no shade
off trail
over grown
scramble
1 month ago

If you find yourself lost within the first few miles, I’d recommend a different hike. This isn’t well marked but it’s very easy to find if you’re prepared. Route finding becomes increasingly difficult but nothing crazy. For river crossings, find a large walking stick— we left some behind. Water is warm but fast. Everything is overgrown once you hit the creek so be ready to bush wack. Exposed on the upward haul back— bring extra water and a hat.

hiking
off trail
over grown
rocky
3 months ago

The drive to the trailhead you can do in a civic. The drop is steep and beautiful. The cairns really help out. The river is waist deep and cold in February so be ready to get wet wet. We were in and out in about 6.5 hours so make sure plan daylight accordingly

hiking
7 months ago

Awesome trail, definitely in my top 10 and must do if you’re visiting the area. River crossings 5x but it’s not bad and hiked barefoot in between so we didn’t have to put our boots back on wet feet. Cold but SO worth it. Gorgeous cathedral and neon canyon. Also a good workout. 10/10.

hiking
8 months ago

This is a great hike. We made a loop of it by taking the short cut trail directly to Neon Canyon. Only one river crossing. Down load Map.me. It shows the trail. Came back the trail on Altrail Pro. About 9 miles total. The Cathedral is totally awesome and worth the hike up. The hike back is longer with 5 river crossing but much more scenic Coming up through Fence Canyon

hiking
no shade
over grown
8 months ago

This was my first trail out in Utah on a recent trip. I found my hate for sand on this trail. Not an excessive amount but enough to hate it. The hike down is fairly steep. This trail is not marked. Some cairns but they go different places. I downloaded the map before heading out and glad I did. Before you climb down the canyon it is open and exposed so early morning is a good time to leave. Once you get to the bottom of the canyon the grasses are thick. At the first river crossing you aren’t able to find a good spot to climb up take the river down a bend or two and you will see an opening it connects to the trail. This part is covered and welcome in the heat. Once you make it the cathedral it is beautiful. I was by myself and had fun with the acoustics. I would say being there from 1-2 is the best time for lighting. I left around 12:30 and light was just getting into the cathedral but didn’t wanna dally any more. Beware that time is when I gets hotter in the day so hiking out was hot. Also for whatever reason hiking up the last big climb freaked me out more than climbing down.

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

hiking
no shade
off trail
over grown
rocky
9 months ago

We’re not expert hikers but we do a few big hikes every year. The trail is nearly non-existent, good map and/or GPS is highly recommended. Download in town while you have service. We hiked around 12 miles out and back, had to hike about a mile in the river as the banks were steep and overgrown, no clear path out. Was only waist deep at the most, descent from trailhead was incredibly steep with sketchy drops and rises on the non-marked path (as best we could tell). Dozens of differing paths/ways to get down to the river, plan well. No other hikers the entire day, cathedral was amazing and has to be one of the most elusive destinations in the state, if not country. Just go prepared. It’s difficult at the least, deadly at the worst.

hiking
no shade
11 months ago

Cannot stress enough the need for GPS on this hike! Also, leave early in the morning before it gets too hot. We did not do either, and had to turn back 1/2 way to the cathedral. Extremely difficult to navigate and scorching hot trail. We are anxious to try it again, but will be much more prepared/responsible next time.

hiking
Sat May 25 2019

There is a decent amount of shade the second half of the out and back. This trail is also known as the Egypt Trail, in case anyone gets confused by the Golden Cathedral name. River had a decent current and was about waist deep. Some areas were a bit confusing. Download your map ahead of time as there is no cell phone service and just try to keep your dot on the line. However once you make the descend keep staying low. There is one point once you get in the canyon where you could ascend. I didn’t go up, but that is not the way to the cathedral.

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