One of Yosemite’s most iconic hikes in the hike country is the Cathedral Lakes hike. Whether it is the start of a high country backpacking loop, a day hike, a through hike from Tuolumne Meadows to the valley, or a jaunt up to the peak itself for some climbing, the trail has challenges for just about every skill level. In addition to providing something for every skill level, the hike has some stellar views, no matter what season it is. Because of all of these things, and because Tuolumne Meadows is in itself one of the more popular regions of the park, over the years, the Cathedral Lake trail has become very popular for day and overnight use. Normally, this type of popularity – and higher traffic would lead me to shy away to other, more remote areas of the park that are just as spectacular.
The Tuolomne Meadows portion of the park is commonly known as “the high country” of Yosemite, and the reason for this is that this area is above 6,000 feet of elevation. During the winter months, this area is also inaccessible to visitors, unless they have skis or snowshoes, as the main access route – the Tioga Pass Road – becomes snowed in, and is not plowed by the National Park Service. It is also an area that is chock-full of beauty. There are high alpine lakes; there are high mountains that are part of the Sierra Nevada range; there are waterfalls; there are wildflowers; and there is wildlife. It is a stunning portion of the park, and one that every visitor should take the opportunity to visit; and it is also an area that is far from the crowds of Yosemite Valley. While there are many great hikes in the region, one of my favorites is the Cathedral Lakes hike.