Cathedral Lakes Trailhead

Image of lake from a higher vantage point
Cathedral Lake

Quick Facts

Animal-Safe Food Storage, Recycling, Restroom - Seasonal, Trailhead, Trash/Litter Receptacles

Cathedral Lakes are nestled at the foot of Cathedral Peak. The trail through this area is the famous John Muir Trail, which sees high traffic all season. The area is popular with rock climbers. Hikers will enjoy views of Cathedral Peak and Echo Peak and access to Long Meadow, Sunrise High Sierra Camp, and Sunrise Lakes.

The trail climbs steadily to Upper Cathedral Lake. Near the top of the climb, it passes a spur trail to Lower Cathedral Lake (0.5 mile to lake). The return hike follows the same route. This is one of the busiest trails in the Tuolumne Meadows area. Since parking at the trailhead is limited, consider taking the shuttle bus.

7 miles (11.3 km) round-trip; 4-6 hours
1,000 ft (300 m) elevation gain

Other hiking destinations accessible from this trailhead include Sunrise High Sierra Camp and Yosemite Valley.

For hiking and trail information, please visit a wilderness center or visitor center.


Accessible only while Tioga Road is open to vehicles, from late May or early June to sometime in November.

Getting Here

Begin at Cathedral Lakes trailhead, a half mile west of the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center.

Rules & Regulations

  • Stay on established trails.

  • Pets are not allowed on hiking trails.

  • Pack out what you pack in.

  • Overnight backpackers need a wilderness permit.

  • Bear canisters are required for wilderness food storage for overnight hikers.

  • Bears and other wildlife can be present on trails at any time of the day or night. Feeding and approaching wildlife is dangerous and illegal! Be sure to properly store your food.

  • Tioga Road closes after the first significant snowfall. Overnight parking on this road ends October 15. For current road and weather information, please call 209/372-0200.

Hazards & Warnings

  • Carry (and drink) plenty of water: a leading cause of injuries on the trail is dehydration.

  • Be sure to treat river, stream, lake, or spring water.

  • Always carry a map and compass, and know how to use them.

  • Wear sturdy footwear with good traction.

  • Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and conditions.


This trail is not accessible.

Yosemite National Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024