“A steady climb to a beautiful lake in a high alpine basin.”
— Sarah Baker
Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildlife
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.
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.