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The Golden Cathedral Trail

MODERATE 68 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, 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: 9.1 miles Elevation Gain: 1,581 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

nature trips

views

rocky

no shade

hiking
no shade
off trail
over grown
rocky
22 days 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
2 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.

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.

hiking
3 months ago

I hiked about the first 4 miles of this trail on the 17th. It was beautiful and started out sunny and clear. (rain was not in the forecast) This changed very quickly and my party had to turn back after the first river crossing. The river flow spiked to 50,0 that day and we did not feel safe crossing after the first spot. There has been a ton of rain this year so be sure to check conditions and do not attempt if the river is deep and flowing fast. It was up to my chest in spots and was definitely not safe! (I’m 5’2”) Can’t wait to go back for round two!! Be safe out there!!

hiking
4 months ago

If you do not have a high clearance vehicle be prepared to walk 4 extra miles! Last 2 miles to TH are rough. As others have said - bring plenty of water. Watch out for poison ivy in the las .25 miles!

hiking
4 months ago

Really fun hike with beautiful rewards at the cathedral! It was more like 10.2 miles for us. We also did it with our yellow lab, bring lots of water for your pup!! Trail is a little tricky to follow. Where it’s rocky, follow the Cairns and when there’s sand, follow the footprints. When you get down the initial descent, look back up and take a mental note of where you came down. When you get to the first river crossing, walk along the side of the rock wall with the overhang to the rocky beach and walk into the woods. This route you will only cross the river 3 times. The river crossings weren’t bad at all, only up to your thigh, somewhat rocky bottom. Once you start walking into the final cathedral, watch out for poison ivy, it’s everywhere!!!

hiking
4 months ago

The Escalante River is running high. I’m 6’ tall and it was groin deep for me in places.

hiking
5 months ago

Awesome trail and an amazing cathedral formation at the end with unique geometry. BEWARE: There were two points where the cairns led us astray and marked different trails. Happened to others the day we went too. In addition, navigating the trail at the river crossings was hard. But when we relied on GPS we were perfectly fine. In fact, I recommend keeping your GPS handy until you reach the end.

hiking
off trail
6 months ago

10 months ago

Favorite hike in Escalante. River crossing is part of the trek in. Beautiful grotto is a must see!

hiking
Wednesday, September 05, 2018

I was most worried about the Egypt road to get to the trailhead, but it is passable with only a few stream/wash crossings that are sketchy. Beautiful formation, and nice walk along the river.

hiking
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Recommend hiking as a loop. Take the normal trail in and traverse the 5 Creek crossings. They weren't deeper than halfway up my calf at any of them. Then on your way out take the shortcut trail back. Was a great loop hike and big change in scenery. We hiked in 95 degree heat. Left early morning and the hike down was no problem. Hiking out and climbing back up the wall at the end to get to the car was a good challenge. If it's over 90 I would say this trail rating increases to hard. We both took 3 liters of water in camelbacks and 3 water bottles. GPS made this hike much easier! HIGHLY RECOMMEND GPS!!! Can't imagine trying to decipher all the spinoff trails from the real trail without it!

backpacking
Wednesday, June 06, 2018

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!

hiking
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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.

backpacking
Sunday, May 20, 2018

What a fun backpacking trip. We spent two nights and day hiked around. We were able to rappel Golden Cathedral and wow, what a rappel. Backpacking down to the river I was glad I was in hiking shoes, but once you get to the river water shoes are helpful. Either that, or you get your hiking shoes wet. 10/10 recommend 10/10 would do again

Monday, March 12, 2018

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.

hiking
Monday, October 09, 2017

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.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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.

hiking
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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.

hiking
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

hiking
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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.

hiking
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 http://backcountrypost.com/trail-guides/golden-cathedral.97/ .

hiking
Monday, April 26, 2010

Amazing

hiking
8 days ago

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