The Golden Cathedral Trail

MODERATE 31 reviews

The Golden Cathedral Trail is a 9.1 mile lightly 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, walking, 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.

9.1 miles
1581 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips




no shade

12 days ago

We started the hike in around 10 pm. We had downloaded the map so we could hike in later. The hike at night was beautiful and nice and cool. We made it to just above the river then camped a night. The next morning we started the hike to the cathedral. We decided to stay in the river as much as possible so we made the hike a little longer but it kept us cool. The cathedral was beautiful and the hike in the river was very enjoyable!! We hiked out around noon and the last part of the hike where you gain a lot of your elevation was brutal in the sun! We filtered at the last portion of water and was out by time we reached the trailhead!

19 days ago

Overall the hike was great and I will do it again.

I hiked this with my wife and four kids. Our kids ranged from 16-11 and each of them did well. Our eleven-year-old was tired and complained a bit once we started hiking out. He was hot and tired, but he pushed through.

I had my Garmin Rino 650 with a waypoint loaded to the mouth of the canyon and it helped. The trail is marked all over the place and sometimes we found multiple trails. As long as you find a reference point and kept that in mind it was easy to find the trail. Once we got to the river it wasn't long until we found our way to the mouth of the canyon. We did wade through the water for a quarter of a mile, but it was only half way up my shin.

The water was a nice relief and I would suggest taking a swimsuit to hang out for a bit.

We (I) decided to try the "shortcut" route on the way back and I honestly prefer the main trail. It was sandy for most of the hike back and that made it difficult for the kids. We stopped frequently to empty shoes.

As far as hydration goes, take plenty of water. We each hauled 100 oz. in Camelbak's and two each 12oz. waterbottles. Our 13-year-old ran out (In her Camelbak) just as we climbed out of the river bottom coming back out. I ended the hike with just under .5 liter left. I will take a filter next time and fill up in the river before hiking out. The weather was calm and mid 70's for the day, but hiking through the desert it felt like it was 90.

We started at 10:58 AM and made it back to the TH at 4:55PM. We hiked for a total of 4:07 hours and had breaks for 1:49 hours. Overall our hike was 9.3 miles in 5:57 hours according to the GPS.

3 months ago

By far one of the best hikes I’ve ever been on. The views are unbelievable.

A few notes:

We spoke to a ranger in the cannonsville station to grab permits to camp near the Egypt trailhead. Told her we were going to the cathedral, through the fence canyon route. She suggested we took a different route, which only required 1 river crossing rather than 5.

Once we were at the trailhead we decided to go for the fence canyon route since we had a gps with it loaded on. Trail is tough, and navigation skills are necessary. Scope out the best spots to cross the river at each point. Was about thigh-waist high deep at its deepest point in early March.

After the 5th river crossing we were like screwwwww this, so we decided to go the route the ranger suggested to us on the way back.
Cross the river just south of the neon canyon entrance and walk directly away from the dome that signals the entrance of the canyon. After that, you’ll feel like you’re lost in the desert for an hour or so, but you’ll easily be able to locate the final ascent to the TH. Lots of ups and downs, but Definitely worth going this route over fence canyon if you aren’t feeling a bunch of river crossings.

Overall, 10/10 hike, 10/10 views, one hell of an adventure.

8 months ago

I would agree with person who said not sure if end destination rates a 5. Definitely do it with a GPS. Most people make it round trip 6 to 8 hours, a few who know where they're going might do it 4 to 5. It was quicker for us on way back because we knew better where we were going. The Escalante River crossings were somewhat confusing and winding our way through the tamerisk and river reeds was a challenge at some points. The end reminded me a bit of a larger calf creek falls perhaps without the water flowing, but the dome of the rock formation was pretty cool. We were so concerned about making sure we did not take too long to get back to our car at a reasonable hour--took us longer to get there than we thought--that we didn't feel we had the time to stay and take it in. BE SURE to bring 100 oz of hydration or a bit more. In summer I'd bring even more than that. Can't imagine doing this hike in 90/95+ temps. I'd worry about bringing enough hydration. October was great. Not sure we would have found it without GPS, or perhaps would have take us longer and then water would have been even more important.

9 months ago

Not so sure if the end destination is worth it. It's beautiful, but hard. The desert trail is pretty rough and almost non-existent. Thank god for GPS. I would not do this hike without one.

11 months ago

We were definitely over confident on this one....but will be going back for sure. The trail is not clearly marked at all. We had several references and researched our route. But still struggled to find our way. Next time we will camp at the trailhead and leave early to avoid the heat. We will take plenty of extra water and end up back before dark with plenty of time to enjoy the cathedral. It's absolutely gorgeous !
Be sure to stay to the left as the canyon splits, and the switchbacks donate not easy to see from the top.....but they are there. It was easy to get confused on the way back. But we did find the big red arrow painted on the rock by the sand hill, finally. It was brutal, but we made it back just as the sun disappeared. Some were not as lucky.
The search and rescue were heading down the mountain as we were climbing up. Be safe out there.
I would definitely recommend a GPS.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

trail along the Escalante River can be VERY difficult to locate on the way back - you pop out of the reeds at one point onto the river trail, but if you aren't careful to mark it or aren't carrying a GPS you can overshoot the turn on the way back and then end up at an odd dead end north of the turn - I ended up spending the night over a strangers campfire who was fortunately camping near the way out and had a GPS

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My brother and I did this hike last July without GPS. Made a 9 mile hike almost 11. Cairns can be hard to spot, use GPS or at minimum have print directions (what we used.) Watch the weather as we got caught in a flash flood. We were standing right below the cathedral when water burst thorough the first hole. It was terrifying but awesome.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

My brother and I made this into a 19 mile hike. Check your gps batteries!!! Very worthwhile hike.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Challenging hike that requires some patience as the trail is hard to find at times.
Get to Neon Canyon and walk along the way in...about 1.5 miles...and you'll dead end at the Cathedral.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Great hike. Camped at the trailhead and day hiked to the Cathedral. The trail is difficult to follow. My GPS saved me on the return trek. Stay close to the river or in it on the return from Neon Canyon.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This is a challenging hike through slickrocks, deep desert sand and requires good navigational skills. There are cairns to mark the trailhead for about a mile and then you're on your own. The best guide I have found is .

Monday, April 26, 2010


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