Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2.5-3.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
9.2 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
360 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

Hiking the Lower and Upper Cathedral Lake Trail is an amazing adventure that will take you through Tuolumne Meadows and up to the shimmering lakes at the base of a dramatic granite peak. Exhibiting breathtaking views every step of the way, this route is a winner in our books!

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Route Description for Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike

The Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike is an incredible adventure that demands stamina, but makes up for it with epic views. Get an up-close and personal panoramic view of the famous Cathedral Peak that adorns the terrain as you make your way to the glittering alpine lakes. Note: sections of the path require some scrambling over boulders, but it’s all part of the experience! Wear sturdy footwear to avoid a rolled ankle and sun protection to avoid over-exposure. The National Park charges an entrance fee; check out the NPS website for additional information.

Embark on your adventure along the Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike from the Medlicott Dome Approach Trailhead. Hike this path southeast through the corridor between Medlicott Dome and Pywiack Dome to Lower Cathedral Lake. This is the biggest lake of the two and reveals breathtaking views of Cathedral Peak from the shoreline. Merge on to the Lower Cathedral Lake Trail, before diverting right onto the John Muir Trail.

Follow this path south all the way to Upper Cathedral Lake. Revel in the picture-perfect scene of the calm waters reflecting the granite peak and rejuvenate your tired feet in the chilly waters, before retracing your steps all the way back to the trailhead.

Getting to the Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike Trailhead

The Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike departs from the Medlicott Dome Approach off Tioga Pass Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Backcountry Camping, Wilderness Permit Required

  • When to do

    May-October

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Low

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike Elevation Graph

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Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes Hike Reviews

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