Cathedral Lake

10 reviews #4 hike out of 109 in
5.5 mi
Distance
2 hrs 31 min
Time
terrain
2,002 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

This is a moderate out and back trail to Cathedral Lake in White River National Forest.
Cathedral Lake is a lake inside of Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness Area. There is not much shade after one crosses the first part of the aspens so please make sure you have plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat and watch for signs of dehydration and sun exposure. From the TH follow the trail as it steeply and relentlessly gains altitude. You will cross a few avalanche paths that have been cleared out for hikers to go through as well as a rocky path. As you ascend, you will also go through a series of steep switchbacks that will eventually level out. Once you past the switchbacks you will see a split on the trail and sign for "Electric Pass" to your right but you need to continue towards Cathedral Lake so please disregard it. Soon after, the trail descends and meets the creek. Find a safe place to cross it as there is not bridge. If water is running very high or swiftly, please be careful as run out in the summer can be very dangerous. You will see that the trail continues past the crossing of the creek for less than a 1/4 mile until it reaches the lake.

Getting Started

Parking for this hike is on Castle Creek Rd in Aspen. Drive past the historic town of Ashcroft and be on the lookout on your right to the small road that will take you to the trailhead. It is marked for Cathedral Lake.This hike is difficult as it gains almost 1,900 feet in elevation until it reaches the lake in less that 3 miles. Please remember this is Wilderness. Follow Leave No Trace and have dogs on a leash.

Taking Children

This hike is very tough and unless children have been exposed to this kind of altitude gain and are used to hiking steep terrain, it is not advised to take them. On a scale from 1-10, this hike for children is rated a 2.


Sights to See


    Rate this Hike

    user_profile
    1 year ago
    Amazing hike. Steep but worth it.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    1 year ago
    Amazing hike. Steep but worth it.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    1 year ago
    Amazing hike. Steep but worth it.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    1 year, 1 month ago
    Amazing hike. Steep but worth it.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    1 year, 1 month ago
    Amazing hike. Steep but worth it.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 years, 1 month ago
    We did an early Sept hike, starting at 8:45am on a Tuesday so only saw 3 other hikers on the way up. Passed quite a few more on the way back down though. It's a steady incline most of the way until the last 1/2 mile. Early on the trail passes through a Aspen forest, then opens up a bit when the trail runs along Pine Creek where you see the debris field from a previous avalanche(?) on the other side of the creek. Meadows, rock fields, and a stream crossing near the top all along the route make the hike very picturesque. But nothing compares to the clear waters of Cathedral Lake in front of the Rocky backdrop of the mountains springing up behind it. Beautiful spot, and worth the hike up!
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 years, 1 month ago
    This trail offers steady climbing and a nice variety between aspen groves, conifer forests, and valley views along a cascading creek. The lake at the top is a nice place to take in the alpine beauty. Altitude is high, and the parking is readily available in the morning but fills up quickly.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 years, 1 month ago
    This trail offers steady climbing and a nice variety between aspen groves, conifer forests, and valley views along a cascading creek. The lake at the top is a nice place to take in the alpine beauty. Altitude is high, and the parking is readily available in the morning but fills up quickly.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 years, 12 months ago
    This is a relatively short but strenuous hike, but worth every mile! Hiking in late October will have a lot fewer hikers, but expect cooler temperatures and patches of snow and ice. The majority of the trail was clear, but the last switchbacks up to the lake were snow covered and I broke trail through about a foot of snow. Some sort of ice grippers on your hiking shoes are required as well as hiking poles for that stretch. I had Stabilicers and poles. I took a leisurely pace up and took photos, so it was about 2 hours up to the lake. I got chased back down by a small snow squall, so that took about an hour and 40 minutes down.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    3 months ago
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


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