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Cathedral Lake Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.6 (16) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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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 16 votes

#653

Overall
  4.6 from 16 votes
5 Star
63%
4 Star
31%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#128

in Colorado

#653

Overall
123 Views Last Month
5,934 Since Oct 10, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
56%
11%
33%
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

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Check-Ins

Aug 24, 2020
Andy Rhoades
Aug 8, 2020
Matt Roller
6.5mi
Aug 1, 2020
Marc Corona
Jul 29, 2020
Chris Drake
Jul 28, 2020
Samantha Orley
3h 00m
May 26, 2020
Eric Harrill
5.5mi
Oct 14, 2019
Cam Ilo
Oct 11, 2019
Livia Abuls