Just under three quarters of a mile later, we had reached the shores of Lower Cathedral Lake. The pass is your gateway to an endless array of Yosemite hikes and backpacking trips that most visitors to Yosemite Valley will never step foot on. Highlights: Lakes. A portion of the next section of the trail actually starts to descend, meaning you’ll be hiking uphill on some of the return hike, never a favorite of ours. Bonus: head to the west side of the lake for views of Tenaya Lake and the valley below. Two alpine lakes, in the high country of Yosemite, far away from the crowds of the Valley, make this an idyllic destination. At 3.25 miles in, we came to the junction for Lower Cathedral Lake, where we stayed to the right. You’ll have views of Cathedral Peak, Echo and Tresidder Peaks, as well as Tenaya Lake, which hangs beneath a wide rock shelf that borders the eastern shore of the lower lake. Cathedral Lake Trail, Yosemite National Park: See 25 reviews, articles, and 41 photos of Cathedral Lake Trail, ranked No.45 on Tripadvisor among 137 attractions in Yosemite National Park. The upper and more scenic Cathedral Lake is reached after another half mile. Even better, none of the other day-hikers had made the same decision as us, so we had the place completely to ourselves! We're committed to building a better, more inclusive home for the modern outdoors. As the trail to Budd Lake is unofficial, it is not marked on the maps. The summit is a small block big enough for a couple people to squeeze on. The Cathedral Lakes trail, though, stands out not just for its beauty, but for its variety of striking views. Once the sun had set and the pink disappeared, it was time to strap on our headlamps and head back down to the car. The Lower Cathedral Lake is located at an elevation of 9288′ and an easy 3.5 miles from the trailhead located along Tioga Road. Starting from the Tuolumne Meadows parking lot, this trail wanders through the classic High Sierra forest with large white granite boulders and pine trees. The trail climbs steadily to Upper Cathedral Lakes. Once you arrive at the lake, turn around to get sweeping views of Cathedral Peak, rising like a spire before you. Permit: None required for day hiking. We would hike to Cathedral Lakes as day-trip, but would stay for sunset and then hike out in the dark. There is an unmarked spur trail that leads you down to the lake, which we mistook for something else and ended up having to retrace our steps. You may hike along the trail and camp at another destination beyond. To camp at Little Yosemite Valley: Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley Get there early if you visit during the summer as limited parking means you could end up adding additional distance to your hike, or having to take the park’s shuttle. It looks good from all sides, has expansive views from its class 4 summit block, and the SE Buttress is considered a classic climbing route. The trail is like a staircase: the first 0.8 mi ascends 600 ft, the next 0.7 mi is level, the next 0.6 mi ascends 600 From Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley (not exiting the park): Cathedral Lakes; Why isn't the Panorama Trail listed? Only 3½ miles from Tuolumne Meadows, the lakes are a wonderful weekend destination and also a favorite stopping place for John Muir Trail Hikers coming up from Yosemite Valley. The Outbound works best with JavaScript enabled. Whenever I go on a trip to Yosemite National Park, I always cringe at the thought of entering the valley and competing for parking with the masses of tourists that come every summer. The approach takes about an hour and is long enough from the road and hiking trails to give you a little peace (often to be shared with many climbers - start early). i really liked your hike-story and the magnificent photos. The Cathedral Lakes trailhead is one of the more popular destinations in the Tuolumne Meadows region of Yosemite, so you can expect crowds to frequent this area whenever the road is open. 12 reviews of Yosemite Cathedral Lakes "Magnificent. Go PRO to support our mission and get benefits like gear deals, no ads, and more! The Cathedral Lakes trailhead is one of the more popular destinations in the Tuolumne Meadows region of Yosemite, so you can expect crowds to frequent this area whenever the road is open. The first 0.7 miles is a steady uphill, covering 500 feet of elevation gain along the way. At the far end of the lake, there is an impressive granite dome that was reflecting perfectly in the still  water. I can only imagine how busy this area would be in the peak of summer! We are Brian and Julie, a Bay Area couple making travel work with full-time jobs. Easy access, beautiful scenery and tempting peaks make this a popular spot for backpackers, day hikers and climbers. As we continue to work out the kinks of becoming backpacking people, we settled on a compromise. No matter how physically fit you are, that level of elevation can take it’s toll on your breathing. Lower Cathedral Lake There are several day hikes to pretty, mountain-ringed alpine lakes in Yosemite - May Lake, Elizabeth Lake, and Ostrander Lake are all good examples. On the hill behind Upper Cathedral Lake, there are stunning views of Lower Cathedral Lake and the surrounding High Sierra Mountains. This makes a great spot for dinner if you're spending the night! When we visit Mammoth in the summertime, we’ve been known to make a special trip Yosemite via the Tiago Road to do this hike. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Looks like a terrific hike! And as is often the case in the high country of Yosemite, the hike wastes no time in making you exert energy by hiking uphill. This trail will lead you ... Backpack Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. By the time we reached the shoreline, we had made it with minutes to spare and Julie quickly got her camera set up for sunset. Cathedral Lakes Trailhead to Yosemite Valley via Half Dome is a 32.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. Cathedral Lakes One of the most iconic destination outside of Yosemite Valley is Cathedral Lakes. It is among Yosemite’s most attractive lakes, and is right in the midst of some of the most picturesque scenery around. Here, the incredible views of Cathedral Peak reflected in the lake are as much a symbol of Yosemite as El Capitan and Half Dome. If you hike to the end of the trail on the right side of the lake to explore the lake's outlet, views of Polly Dome, Pywiack Dome, Mount Hoffman, Tenaya Peak and some of Tenaya Lake can be seen. Cathedral Lakes. She looked like the Indy Car driver Danica Patrick. Near the top of the climb, it passes a spur trail to Lower Cathedral Lake (0.5 mile to lake). Sunrise and sunset with the reflection of Cathedral Peak on the glassy water is the best way to end and begin your day on the trail. My wife and I are planning to make a similar hike in about two weeks from now, including the half Dome. After approximately 4 miles of quiet solitude in the forest, you will reach Cathedral Lakes: a pair of high alpine lakes surrounded by the quintessential green meadows that Yosemite is famous for. Starting at the Tuolomne Meadows Visitor Center you will head south to jump on the John Muir Trail, move east for 2.8 miles on the JMT until the trail intersects with the Vogelsang High Sierra trailhead, you head south when you reach this trail. With just under an hour to sunset, we said goodbye to Lower Cathedral Lake and quickly made our way back to the junction. Lower Cathedral Lake is among the most impressive of Yosemite's granite-wrapped High Sierra lakes. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Lower Cathedral Lake is typically less populated than nearby Upper Lake and has some of the mot beautiful scenery on the JMT. After our snack break, we followed along the shoreline, enjoying the different vantage points and views of Cathedral Peak. For most people, a trip to Cathedral Lakes is a major part of any Yosemite vacation. Cathedral Peak is an outstanding granite pinnacle in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park. While Julie took photos of Cathedral Peak (looking in the opposite direction of the lake), I used this opportunity to enjoy my PB&J and snap some photos on my iPhone. The trailhead does not scream at you here I am like others, so be watchful after Tenaya Lake. In this video, I'm doing an amazing hike to Cathedral Lakes in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park. It’s about the same distance from the trail junction to Upper or Lower Cathedral Lakes, so we knew we could get there pretty quickly. Given its close proximity to the trailhead, the basin itself can be found crowded with people in mid-summer, However in early spring the trail is covered snow, keeping many at bay. Camping is not allowed on the Panorama Trail or near Illilouette Fall. Trekking Cathedral Lakes in Yosemite National Park. Even with our visit being late in the season, there were still a fair amount of people and groups spread out at the lake. Great area for sunrise and sunsets too. One of the most stunning peaks in Yosemite, Cathedral is blessed with some great moderate climbing. A great expanse of granite is laid out in front of the lake, making it easy to stretch out and enjoy the views. Follow along as we share our adventures at home & abroad. Cathedral Lakes on our way to Yosemite Valley below The Golden Triangle An Addition to our Tahoe to Whitney Hike . Distance: 11.5 miles (with plenty of walking around the lakes). Parking for the trail is easy to spot, just before you reach the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, a trail sign marks the start of the hike. Breakfast and dinner service are ... Overview Your email address will not be published. Trailhead Group Campground is located in the eastern high Sierra Nevada Mountains of California at just over 10,000 feet in elev... Overview Continue Reading Part 2 of the Cathedral Lake Hike Report! And a little mountain sickness. From the South Bay Area, the drive takes about four hours and covers slightly over 200 miles. Upper Pines Campground is located in breathtaking Yosemite National Park in Central California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain R... Donohue Pass lies on the border of Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness. To reach the trailhead for Cathedral Lakes, you will need to drive the Tioga Pass Road, also known as Highway 120. Gla cier Point Loop. Dates of opening and closing vary with each year’s snowfall, so it’s best to check the park website before planning a trip. We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. We both looked around and marveled at how immensely beautiful the lake was, particularly with Cathedral Peak reflecting perfectly in its waters. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your Take in views of the 10,900 foot Cathedral Peak. Around 1.5 miles in, we caught the first glimpse of Yosemite’s famous granite, which is always a welcome sight. Why you should go: A two-day trek that delivers a highlight reel of the best … Tioga Rd, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA 95389, USA, © 2020 The Outbound Collective - Terms of Use - Privacy Policy. Map includes surrounding trails, campsites, trail elevation profile. O... Yosemite is an iconic park, and if you are looking for isolation with spectacular views of the backcountry this trip is for you. While the hike to Cathedral Lakes isn’t especially difficult compared to some of the hikes in Yosemite, it’s mostly the elevation that will get you. Cathedral Lakes Yosemite | Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd. The Cathedral Lakes are a pair of stunning lakes in Yosemite National Park. Spectacular. Please explore responsibly! One of the most popular of Yosemite’s high country destinations has to be Cathedral Lakes. Overview Still, it won’t be anything compared to the bus loads of people you see in the Valley, but don’t expect a ton of solitude during peak season. We carried on this way until we reached the 2.3 where we began to climb out of the forest and into more sun exposure. One of my favorite places to camp in the park. Budd Lake ~ Cathedral Lakes Loop Yosemite National Park: July 14, 2009. Sunrise/Sunset are incredible and the mountain reflection on the lake is breath-taking. It’s hard to imagine a better sight than what we were witness to. Cathedral Lakes trail map, Yosemite National Park. Explore lush green meadow surrounding a high alpine lake with amazing solitude for Yosemite. They take their name from the nearby Cathedral Peak, so named for its church-like summit, and the mountain looms high over the water, creating a beautiful backdrop for the lakes. Glorious. The hike to Cathedral Lakes had been high on our Yosemite list for the last few years and it’s easy to see why. Cathedral Lakes Two beautiful lakes on one trail with epic views from every angle. Having planned this outing since last winter, I hope it lives up to its hype. On the west side of the upper lake, take an easy scramble up some boulders for a higher perspective on the lake and Cathedral Peak plus views of the surrounding valleys. Head left here at the split and continue another half mile to Upper Cathedral Lake. adventures and follow local regulations. What had prevented us from making the trip up until this year had been the debate over whether to visit the lakes as a day-hike or an overnight backpacking trip. Another great hike in Yosemite had come to an end, but we will be back again soon! From what we could tell, it didn’t look like it was accessible by normal means so I settled for this somewhat poor view of it (and hence poor photo). If you’re planning a visit to Yosemite National Park, please check out my other posts about Yosemite for ideas of things to do and photography tips. It's surrounded by Cathedral Peak in the east and by Echo and Tresidder Peaks along the southern shore, all of them over 10,000 feet (3,050 meters) in elevation. If the backcountry solitude wasn’t enough, we were soon greeted by a pink hue that lit up the sky. There are great spots to chill on south side of the lake. Distance: 6 miles (9.6 km) round trip. Head left here at the split and continue another half mile to Upper Cathedral Lake. This is a perfect spot to get away from the crowds. After about 1 mile, an unmarked trail will appear on your left – it is a less-traveled path, primarily taken by climbers. Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located in breathtaking Yosemite National Park in Central California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mount... Free ranger-led campfire programs and guided hikes are offered daily for Tuolumne Meadows Lodge guests. Beyond the lake, and atop the granite, there is a beautiful view of Tenaya Lake, below in the distance. Tressider Peak, a half mile to the southwest, is an easy walk-up for those with extra energy. Still, it won’t be anything compared to the bus loads of people you see in the Valley, but don’t expect a ton of solitude during peak season. Length 8.6 miElevation gain 1551 ftRoute type Out & back If you’re planning on visiting Upper Cathedral Lake (as we did), know that you will have to hike back to this junction and continue on to reach it. After approximately 4 miles of quiet solitude in the forest, you will reach Cathedral Lakes: a pair of high alpine lakes surrounded by the quintessential green meadows that Yosemite is famous for. Horses are also able to use this trail. Set up your tent due left on the little patch of land when you reach the lake. Here is the map. Every year, it gets worse and worse. Simply walking behind the lake (with Cathedral Peak at your back) and cresting the ridge will offer up this amazing view. Yosemite – Cathedral Lakes Hike As far as hikes from Tuolumne Meadows go, the Cathedral Lakes hike is my favorite. Cathedral Lakes, located near Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, is an extremely popular hiking, climbing, and backpacking destination. We saw one couple on the trail. Polly Dome Lakes. Of the many lakes reached by short hikes along the Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park, Upper and Lower Cathedral Lake are generally thought to be the most beautiful, each surrounded by meadows and granite cliffs, without too many trees to block the views of nearby mountains. August 30, 2014 Distance: 10 Miles Traveled: Sunrise Lakes Trailhead to Lower Cathedral Lake “The grand Sierra Cathedral, a building of one stone, sewn from the living rock, with sides, roof, gable, spire and ornamental pinnacles, fashioned and finished symmetrically like a work of art, and set on a well-graded plateau about 9000 feet high, as if Nature in making so fine a building … 17.0 miles from Cathedral Lake Trail #4 Best Value of 410 places to stay in Yosemite National Park “The TPR has been, and will again be, a fantastic place to enjoy one of the most spectacular environments in CA, let alone the USA. It is a bit of a challenging climb, but the lakes are well worth the effort. HI, I am Nadav from Israel. I like to think of the hike to Cathedral Lakes as a bit of rolling hills. Cathedral Lakes Trail is a 8.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. One thought on “ Cathedral Lakes to Yosemite Valley via Clouds Rest ” Nadav says: August 8, 2019 at 1:17 am. But after that, the trail is surprisingly flat for the next mile or so. This last stretch is well worth the improved views of Cathedral Peak. The route has been so thoroughly studied that I haven't even bothered to pack a map. “Cathedral Lake Falls” is a name I made up for this easy-to-miss waterfall on the Tioga Road just before the Pywiack Dome. #YosemiteHiddenGem #YosemiteHiking Scenery: ★★★★★ Difficulty: ★★ I took different route than usual Cathedral lakes trail. Perhaps one of our favorite parts of Lower Cathedral Lake is how much better the views get as you walk around the lake. Cathedral Lakes Trail is 7 mi /11.3 km roundtrip with an elevation change of 1000 ft/300 m with a 1 mi/1.6 km roundtrip spur trail to the Lower Cathedral Lake. 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