Hiking Project Logo

Cathedral Lake Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.6 (13) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A steady climb to a beautiful lake in a high alpine basin.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

5.5

Miles

8.8

KM

Out and Back

11,897' 3,626 m

High

9,922' 3,024 m

Low

2,098' 639 m

Up

2,098' 639 m

Down

15%

Avg Grade (8°)

45%

Max Grade (24°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildlife

Overview

The route offers great views of a high alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks in the Elk Range. Expect a gradual climb the entire way to Cathedral Lake with some rocky sections. During the fall, this route is a great way to view the yellow aspens, but is also very crowded.

Description

From the trailhead, the route gradually climbs through groves of aspens (which are amazing in the fall) with views to the south along the Castle Creek Valley. Eventually, the terrain starts to open up, passing through groves of aspens and firs and boulder fields. The trail continues to climb paralleling Pine Creek.

The first view into the upper basin can be seen at approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead. This point is approximately half way to Cathedral Lake and is a great place to take a break before continuing the climb to Cathedral Lake. As you gradually ascend into the basin, the views continue to open up, with more views of Malemute Peak and Cathedral Peak.

The final climb to the shelf where the lake is located is very steep, with many steep switchbacks. At the top of the switchbacks, there is a fork which leads to Electric Pass. Follow the trail to the left towards Cathedral Lake.

After another half a mile, the deep jade blue of Cathedral Lake will come into view. Cathedral Peak towers over the lake and is aptly named for its cathedral-like appearance.

If you decide to backpack into Cathedral Lake, there are plenty of camping spots just below the lake where there is tree cover and access to a stream.

Contacts

Shared By:

Sarah Baker

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 13 votes

#660

Overall
  4.6 from 13 votes
5 Star
62%
4 Star
38%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#129

in Colorado

#660

Overall
344 Views Last Month
4,748 Since Oct 10, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
60%
0%
40%
0%

Photos

Taking in the view of Cathedral Peak on a peaceful fall day at Cathedral Lake.
Oct 24, 2016 near Aspen, CO
Crossing boulder fields before the final ascent to Cathedral Lake.
Oct 24, 2016 near Aspen, CO
A view of Pine Creek and Malamute Peak.
Jul 29, 2017 near Aspen, CO
View of the ridge on the trail up to Cathedral Lake.
Oct 24, 2016 near Aspen, CO
A snowy view of the Cathedral Lakes basin in late fall.
Oct 24, 2016 near Aspen, CO
A view up Castle Creek with many aspens blanketing the mountainsides, albeit with no leaves left.
Oct 24, 2016 near Aspen, CO

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 2 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Oct 14, 2019
Cam Ilo
Oct 11, 2019
Livia Abuls
Jul 22, 2019
Nathan Bellew
it was hard but very rewarding. would not reccomend if you are a novice hiker. 5.5mi — 6h 00m
Jun 15, 2019
Colleen Rasch
The trail is completely covered by an avalanche about 1 mile up. At 2 miles it is completely covered by snow. 5.5mi — 3h 15m
Sep 4, 2018
Laura Hadar
Solo hike up to the lake. Short run at bottom .
Jul 29, 2018
Daylene York
5.6mi
Jul 19, 2018
KJ Hamre
Great trail!! The rocky terrain really adds to the fun and the view at the lake is spectacular. Make it up and back in under 3 hours 5.5mi
Jul 6, 2018
Malcolm Seamans
6.2mi