The Golden Cathedral Trail is a 9.1 mile 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.

Length9.1 miElevation gain1,581 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashCampingHikingNature tripsViewsRockyNo shadeFee
Description
Waypoints (6)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area charges a fee to enter. Fees are $30 per vehicle/vessel or $25 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot or bike the fee is $15 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $55. 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.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (192)
Photos (126)
Activities (162)
Completed (354)
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nicholas turner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 9, 2021
Hiking

This is a more direct route out of neon canyon back to the trailhead. But sand climb at the start, then a straight shot to the climb out. Only one water crossing right at neon canyon, ankle deep in early April.

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nicholas turner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 8, 2021
Hiking

The hike down was harder than we thought for 4 miles. Lots of sand, and a few scrambles down rock take you to the canyon you descend. Once down and through the vegetation, 3-4 water crossings get you to the neon canyon. The first water crossing was currently thigh high (6 ft tall man) and the other 3 are less than knee deep. Camp at neon canyon intersection, up on a ledge by the dry creek is a clearing with a beautiful camp spot. Some downed trees give shelter, but it’s sandy and open with a perfect sunset view. Water in the river is flowing and clean for drinking if filtered. Finally, DO NOT SKIP GOLDEN CATHEDRAL. Go at sunset if you are sleeping out there!

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eunice lee
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 7, 2021
Hiking

It was amazing hike! It is a long hike though, 13.75 miles, and we hiked right on the Alltrail map. But it was worth it. Be ready to climb back up, it is serious one.

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Aaron Cooper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 1, 2021
Hiking

Very fun! Lots of fun trying to get through the river crossings. Very steep at points, but overall a great time. Plan lots of time! She’s a big one!

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MB KK
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 28, 2021
Hiking

It’s hard. Plan ahead. It was a tough ten miles. There is a strong decent at the start and a hard up hill battle at the end. Lots of sand and sun. Water is cold but not more than knee deep. Canyon is spectacular. Try to come mid day to catch the rays coming down onto the pool.

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Julianne Kersgaard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 25, 2021
HikingGreat!Off trail

We went overland and not initially in the canyon so only one river crossing and it was only knee deep, pretty easy. It was one of the most amazing hikes I’ve ever done, the golden cathedral was so beautiful.

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Ariel Caballero
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 21, 2021
Hiking

Amazing

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Brent Kay
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 13, 2021
Hiking

Couldn’t cross high water in the Escalante River. Probably not smart to cross in winter runoff.

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Melody Olson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 5, 2021
Hiking
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Meera Parat
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 18, 2021
HikingGreat!No shadeOff trailRocky

This is obviously a hidden gem of Utah and it’s an incredibly unique and beautiful hike. But note everything below before you go!! - NEED the offline trail map. Don’t even go if you don’t have this. You’ll literally get lost in the 1+ million acres of deserted rock canyons. There’s no trail to follow (barely any correct cairns) - just walking across rocks and sand. And being an extra phone battery charger if you use your phone for the map. - high clearance vehicle for the rocky, dirt road on the way to the trailhead (about 25 miles). AWD needed if rainy or snowy! Fill up on gas before because you’ll be 50ish miles on remote dirt roads. - Use the Outlandish iPhone app to see trail markers on the dirt road, and help with a map. There are also wild camp spots along the dirt road if you’re interested, and Outlandish will show these spots, too! - good grip hiking boots! You’re scaling many big boulders and will want the grip - at least 5-6 hours (before sunset) to hike this round trip, more if you’ll stop and take breaks. - you’ll have to cross a freezing cold river, knee or waist deep, 1-3 times (one way). So go prepared knowing you’ll have to do this. We took our socks and shoes off and crossed but it was cold as hell (and thus painful). - we went in February, on a luckily sunny day. It was 40s. Dress in layers though because true canyon got cold. And we got lucky there wasn’t rain previously or ice on the rocks. In the summer, it would be so hot and exhausting and you’d need to carry more water.

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Luigi Laraia
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 28, 2021
HikingGreat!

Can I give this 6 stars? Absolutely gorgeous trail. A relatively easy hike all the way to the Escalante river, a few fun fordings, which were pretty easy, and a final hike up the canyon which is rewarded by the stunning "cathedral", three holes in the rocks above a pool of water so clear that reminded me of the Caribbean waters. One of the best hikes I have ever done. The trail in the first section of the hike may not be as clear so make sure you have a map or alltrails with you. We had to check the phone a few times but never really had a problem.

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Serena Posluszny
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 1, 2021
Hiking

It would’ve been amazing if the snow wasn’t so dangerous, couldn’t get into the trail because of it being so sketchy and slippery. Almost got stuck trying to get back up after we realized it wasn’t safe to continue. Kept falling and slipping so we turned around. We knew it had snow on the trail and it’s not typically a problem with the proper gear so thought we would be alright still since it wasn’t a lot. We’re so disappointed but will try again when the snow clears!!

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Cait Lerew
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 28, 2020
Hiking

The canyons are absolutely breathtaking from the start. Insane views as you walk from the start of the trail down to the river. There is a 30 mile or so drive on very rough gravel roads that you should not attempt without an adequate outdoor vehicle. Very bumpy and feels like you are driving on the trail at some points lol. Be prepared (we were not...) to cross the river several times to get to the end. Due to the time of day and a lack of reliable navigation (you’ll need more than an iPhone and AllTrails!) we weren’t able to complete the trail. (We did this hike in late October 2020).

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Justin Spitzer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 21, 2020
Hiking
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Carl Flink
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 21, 2020
Hiking

12 miles...perfect temps in mid November. If ur not into wet shoes just go barefoot from the first river crossing to the last. Also, is worth looking at the map for a second to avoid a couple crossings. Our dog, who is not a fan of swimming, made it through with only a little complaining

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Ryker Uvila
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2020
Walking

This is a great trail! I took a different trail on the way back (Neon Canyon) that was more direct back to the trailhead. It ended up being 10.5 miles in 5 hours 10 mins. The route that AllTrails gives you is magical, but has 5 river crossings. On the way back, we crossed once. I enjoyed both trails, it would definitely recommend the designated trail, even with the crossings, because it is so diverse. I had the map out a lot because it is easy to get off trail, especially right when you descend and during the river crossings. The water got up to my mid-thigh at the highest (I’m 5’8”). Otherwise, go early in the day, I left at 10:30-ish, so that you have light in the Golden Cathedral and you have sun on your way out of the trail and car ride back. The trailhead is actually 1 mile from where it’s marked on AllTrails and Google. Follow the signs to the “trailhead” at the fork and when you get to the Egypt parking lot, you’re in the right place. The cairns behind the registration signs is a good place to start. I was able to navigate the road to the trailhead even with my Toyota Corolla rental, but it was rough. Have fun!

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Emma Katz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 14, 2020
Hiking

It was a beautiful day out there. I listened to previous advice and had AllTrails downloaded which was really helpful, had poles to assess how deep the water was (deepest part was just barely hitting my waist), and kept looking back to familiarize myself on the ascent in case cairns were scarce (never was the case thankfully). Water was freezing but felt good coming back around noon. It was just me and my dog and he did awesome at the river. I thought we were only going to cross it a couple of times but following the AllTrails map had us cross it a total of 8 times! (It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, unless you ask him). Overall, it was a great trip and the golden cathedral was worth it!

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Daniel Welch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2020
Hiking

"Epic" is the only word that fits this trail. Hiking in mid-November, the weather was perfect -- sunny and 35 degrees when we started, 50 at the end -- but the flip side was that the Escalante River was icy cold. Neoprene socks make the crossings much more tolerable. The deepest point we hit was about 2.5ft. At the first river crossing, it is much easier to wade along the right side of the river for ~100 feet than to cross it twice. Then follow the dotted-line trail, it is well marked. At the final crossing, just the opposite -- crossing the river twice is easier than trying to scoot along the wall on the left side. The mud near the wall is deceptively deep and (in every sense of the word) sucky.

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Daniel Welch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 13, 2020
Hiking
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Kate Konchar
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 7, 2020
Hiking

really tough hike at first, with full sun exposure over rocks without trails, and only cairns to guide the way. a lot of cairns make it difficult to know which path to follow. but once you drop down into the canyon, the hiking is much more flat. you do cross the river 4-5 times, so wear shorts and bring a change of socks and shoes. it hits about knee deep in places. the canyon for the last mile makes it all worth it. incredibly beautiful.

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Emily Thoures
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 24, 2020
Hiking
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Kelly Arthur
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 22, 2020
Hiking

Excellent hike. The high the day we hiked was 78F, and we went through 3L of water per person over the course of the 5h and 20m it took us to complete the hike. No issues spotting the trail on the way out or back. I do recommend turning around periodically to pick out a few landmarks for the walk back and of course keeping an eye on the cairns. Having the All Trails map downloaded was a nice reassurance as well.

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Abbey Ostrander
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
HikingGreat!

Top favorite hike of all times! Views are breath taking. THIS IS NOT A MODERATE HIKE. The hike there is pretty easy but coming back is all up hill. Bring lots of water and have a GPS or map downloaded.

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sapphire reels
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 18, 2020
Hiking
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Aya Tsuruta
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 10, 2020
HikingGreat!

October 2020 - beautiful with changing leaves and cool temps. • 1 day (6 hours with photo stops) • Consumed 2.5L of water (carried 4+) • Water available at the Escalante • Well marked with lots of cairns along the way - with the exception of the beginning of trail which was a little difficult to find (we ended up using the AllTrails map) • Bring appropriate shoes for river crossings - I wore Tevas the whole way and was fine • Only a few stretches of super sandy trail - otherwise we were able to hop on rocks to avoid the sand We were very spoiled and had the Cathedral all to ourselves! Would highly recommend.

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Michael Meyer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 8, 2020
Hiking
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