Cathedral Lakes Trail

Yosemite National Park, California 95389

Distance0.1mi
Elevation Gain29ft
Trailhead Elevation8,572ft
Top8,601ft
Elevation Min/Max8572/8601ft
Elevation Start/End8572/8572ft

Cathedral Lakes Trail

Cathedral Lakes Trail is a hiking trail in Tuolumne County, California. It is within Yosemite National Park. It is 0.1 miles long and begins at 8,572 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 0.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 29 feet. This trail connects with the following: John Muir Trail.

Cathedral Lakes Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The hike to the two Cathedral Lakes is probably the most popular of any in the Tuolumne area (not counting the High Sierra Camp Loop) so wilderness permits are hard to come by, and the trail and lakeside show signs of overuse. Still, the setting of the lakes in the heart of the Cathedral Range is almost too picturesque to be real, and the distance from the Tioga Road is short. Cathedral Pass, above the upper lake, is a convenient route between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, and is part of the John Muir Trail. The bears consider these lakes their local supermarket, so keep your canister locked."

"The Upper and Lower Cathedral Lakes are two alpine jewels glistening amidst the grandeur of their namesake mountain range. A 1,000-foot climb from Tuolumne Meadows, the gorgeous sister lakes sit regally in a classic glacial cirque. The hike begins in the shade of lodgepole pines and other neighboring conifers before opening up to more expansive views. The climb is never more than a moderate ascent, but it can still feel unrelenting on a hot day. Your reward is a cool dip in these picture-perfect lakes, two of the region’s finest, with striking views of the surrounding peaks. Outstanding features: Upper and lower Cathedral Lakes; stunning views of the Cathedral Range, including Cathedral Peak, as well as Echo and Tresidder peaks"

"Cathedral Peak, a steep horn rising to the south of the meadow, is one of the icons of Tuolumne Meadows. A well-worn climber’s trail to the base of the peak allows hikers to ascend to the remarkably flat saddle just south of Cathedral Peak and stare at granite peaks in all directions. This pass is one of my favorite perches in the Cathedral Range."

Cathedral Lakes Trail Reviews

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6/25/2009
We did this hike as a backpacking trip to Yosemite Valley, very easily done as a day hike. The lakes are gorgeous, with amazing views of Cathedral Peaks and other surrounding granite domes. Bring bug spray! The mosquitoes were horrendous, so we got out of there as fast as we could and made our way down the JMT. Great day hike out of Tuolumne.
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8/17/2008
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8/11/2008
The trail from Tanya lake is easy for the first mile, then climbs agressively for the next 1.5 miles. Water up for an overnight stay on Cloudsrest at the 3rd stream you cross. Views from Clouds Rest are the best in Yosemite!
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7/28/2007
This is a great day hike! Beautiful views of Half Dome and Quarter Dome. The deep blue of Tenaya Lake contrasts with the bright white granite of the surrounding Sierras. The final ascent is fairly easy, but, because it is relatively narrow, will cause anxiety in anyone with a fear of heights or open spaces.
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7/9/2007
The trail length is completely debatable. From many sources it is 14.4 miles round trip, but there are also sources claiming it is only 12. Our hike took 11 hours but we were just taking our time. In any case the trail felt like it was 16 miles round trip, but the payoff from the peak is unbelievable. You can see just about the entire park from the peak of Clouds Rest. The trail starts at Tenaya Lake(around 8200 feet) and is pretty flat for the first mile or so, but then you hit your first major switchback climb of about 1000 feet. These switchbacks are different than most in Yosemite. These switchbacks are mostly stairs and they easily swallow up about 75 to 100 feet of elevation in a complete switchback, so they are pretty steep. Once you reach the top of this ridge you descend back down below 9000 until you hit your second climb. Your second climb is pretty gradual but it doesn't stop until you reach the peak, so it is another good 1000 foot climb. The elevation plays a big part in this hike because most people will be doing it as a dayhike and wont be accustomed to the altitude. The peak is just above 9900 feet so if quick ascents get to you this isnt your hike. There is one thing I feel like I should mention. There is what they call a knife ridge just below the summit. It is mostly 10 feet wide but it shrinks down to about 4 feet wide in certain sections. There is a 4500 foot drop to the valley floor on either side of you as you walk along this ridge, so if your petrified of heights take this into consideration. I myself physched myself out for this, but when I got there it wasn't that bad. It is not dangerous if your not being stupid. The view is absolutely awesome. In my opinion it rivals glacier point. I would advise you to look at the hike on google earth and take a good look at some topo maps before considering this hike, but once again the view from the top os completely worth all the pain!
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Trail Information

Yosemite National Park
Nearby City
Yosemite National Park
Parks
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Yosemite National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Tenaya Lake
Local Maps