Cathedral Lake is a stunning lake located in Aspen, Colorado. It features a moderate and well maintained trail that offers fantastic views, aspen tree groves, waterfalls, and stunning landscape views all the way to the lake.
Distance – 5.6 miles round trip (9.01 km)
Height – 11,866 feet (3622.85 m)
Elevation gain – 1,986 feet (605.33 meters)
Duration – 4 – 5 hours (book time)
Difficulty – Intermediate
Class: Class 1 Hike
Seasons – This hike can be completed in all seasons. Winter road closures will add distance to this hike.
Trailhead Location – West Willow Creek Trailhead (11,507 Feet) | Stewart Creek Trailhead (10,480)
Need To Know Information
- The final .5 miles of road off of Castle Creek Road is dirt. It is rough, but even 2wd vehicles can make it to the top if driven carefully.
- Dogs must be leashed.
- Read about the rules and regulations for camping and pets in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness here. Currently, camping is free, but a fee is proposed in the near future.
Hiking Route Options
There is only one out and back route to Cathedral Lake that is common.
Cathedral Lake Trailhead | 5.6 Miles Round Trip (9.01 km) – 1,986 Feet Elevation Gain (605.33 meters)
Hikers without low clearance vehicles may need to park on Castle Creek Road, before hiking up the .5 mile dirt road to the trailhead. Most cars should make it even though there are some rough sections. Any 4wd vehicle or high clearance vehicle will have no trouble.
Hikers begin hiking along the well marked and well traveled trail through aspens. They quickly begin ascending and are rewarded with views of Castle Creek valley through aspens within the first 10 minutes of hiking. Less than 1 mile in, hikers will find a part of the trail that leads to a small viewpoint of a waterfall in the trees. Hikers continue upwards at a steady grade where gorgeous views of the creek, nearby mountains, forest, and mountains are stunning.
About 2.3 miles in, hikers will reach the junction for Electric Pass. Hikers continue straight instead of turning right towards the pass. The hike mellows out in elevation gain, crosses a creek (easy to not get wet), and meanders through bushes before reaching the lake.
Camping Cathedral Lake
Dispersed camping is allowed at Cathedral Lake. Here is the language from the Forest Service site: “Each party overnighting in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is required to self-register at the Trailhead and to carry a copy of the registration with them during their visit. There is no fee charged and no limit to the number of permits issued.” You can read more on this here.
Fishing Cathedral Lake
Current Weather Conditions:
Here is the detailed weather forecast for the next few days. We highly recommend you check out the mountain forecast for this lae the morning of your hike. The link allows you to filter by specific elevation (so be sure to look at the lake elevation of about 11,000 feet).
Directions & Parking
4wd vehicles are recommended for the last half mile to the trailhead, however even 2wd vehicles without great clearance can make it if careful.
From highway 82, turn onto Castle Creek Road at the roundabout. Drive 12.2 miles and turn right (shortly after passing Ashcroft) onto a gravel road, driving 1/2 mile to the trailhead.
Directions to Cathedral Lake Trailhead:
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about