Panorama from the Cathedral Lake hike in Aspen, Colorado
Panorama from the Cathedral Lake hike in Aspen, Colorado

Cathedral Lake hike

Aspen
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Unnamed Peak from the Cathedral Lake Hike near Aspen, ColoradoCathedral Lake Hike near Aspen, ColoradoLake and Malemute Peak in the background from the Cathedral Lake Hike near Aspen, ColoradoView across the valley from the Cathedral Lake Hike near Aspen, ColoradoCathedral Peak view from the Cathedral Lake Hike near Aspen, Colorado

Cathedral Lake hike

Distance: 5.9mi
Elevation: 2,090ft
Time: 3.5-5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.5 Overall Rating
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Although it is a steep hike, the alpine atmosphere obtained by reaching this stunning basin is easily worth the strain on your lungs. Sitting at the base of the imposing and aptly named Cathedral Mountain, the clear blue Cathedral Lake takes on an almost spiritual essence.

Cathedral Lake hike Map

Getting there

Head west from Aspen along Colorado 82 for 0.5mi to get to the traffic circle. Take the 3rd exit onto Castle Creek Rd. Follow this for 12.0mi, until you see signs for the Cathedral Lake Trail. Turn right and follow the road up to the parking area.

I’ve done this 37 people have done this
I want to do this 74 want to do this route

About

When to do

Late June through September

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, at Cathedral Lake

Toilets

No

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Cathedral Lake
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Cathedral Lake

Beginning along the Cathedral Lake Trail, you will initially head southwest and immediately start gaining elevation. Soon you will find yourself above the roaring Pine Creek as you veer to the west and continue climbing.

You will soon be out of the foliage. As the trees clear, incredible views will appear across the valley and of the flank of Malemute Peak. Looking up the valley you will also be able to see the edge of Cathedral Lake. The views will get even better as you ascend.

Veering right (more to the north) you will soon reach a junction where you will go left towards Cathedral Lake. You will complete another short climb before cresting a bushy ridge. From here you will descend a short ways to the north side of Cathedral Lake. There are plenty of places to take a break beside the lake, so explore a little bit and find a secluded area all to yourself.

The most impressive view is the one looking across the lake with Cathedral Peak in the background. We love this Rocky Mountain vista of Cathedral Peak and its impressive, fortress like south ridge. Malemute Peak sits to the south (left). From the ridge just before the lake, looking back, you will be able to see the grassy and slopping Leahy Peak.

After enjoying the stunning waters and views of Cathedral Lake return the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Cathedral Lake is a superb easy one night backpacking destination or a great - although a little far - picnic spot.

Comments

Lola M. 2 years ago

Awe-inspiring scenery! The atmosphere was great upon reaching the basin! The mountain and lake make a great composition.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Tiffany Swift 2 years ago

Steep hike with impressive views. Worth it.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Banter F. 3 years ago

Be careful because it's a steep hike. Great view of the lake.

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Ashton L. 3 years ago

A good place to explore. Hike is not easy but it's rewarding. Marvelous scenery.

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merry g. 3 years ago

It was a nice and fun moderate hike. The views across the valley were jaw-dropping. Love this hike so much.

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Jordan A. 3 years ago

Beautiful hike with lots of good spots to rest. It was worth every stop.

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Michael L. 3 years ago

Amazing views! It was mildly challenging but amazing. Overall, it was fantastic!

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Susanne P. 3 years ago

Views keep on getting better as you go. My tip: Just do it!

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Josephine B. 3 years ago

A steep hike with breathtaking views. The picnic spot is kinda far.

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Siobhan Ringston 3 years ago

A beautiful place for exploration. It's a wonderful area to unravel.

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12 Comments Show all

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