YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California

Scramble Yosemite's Cathedral Peak

Originally added by Christopher Grant

Distance: 10 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 3,000 ft. Incredible views with high Sierra vibes. Not very technical, class 3/4 climbing.

Start at Toulumne Meadows (8000 ft), and take the John Muir Trail, on the south side of Tioga Road. After about 1 mile, an unmarked trail will appear on your left – it is a less-traveled path, primarily taken by climbers. This trail will lead you away from Cathedral Lake to the back of Cathedral Peak. Be careful not to miss the turn-off, as it can be very hard to spot.

Once you've found this trail, simply continue for about 3 miles, crossing a few small creeks along the way. The views aren't too great long this part of the trail, but you will get a nice sense of the high Sierras.

The difficult part of the hike begins when you reach the base of the peak, where you will need to find the route. The trail continues along the side of the peak and becomes very steep, with little carabiners that you can follow all the way up, heading for the ridge. You will likely see some climbers on the southeast face, but don't feel intimidated by this, as your route will be much easier. Keep heading up, and stay alongside the marked signs – it is not recommended to get too far from the signs, for the sake of the plants (and your knees).

Once you are close to the ridge, you will stop seeing the carabiners, and can pretty much make your own path. On the ridge, you will have to drop down a bit and head toward the other bridge between the tall pillar (pictured) and the highest peak. There isn't a recommended path here, so just be careful and try to avoid the bushes.

Now for the hardest part, where climbing possibly becomes class 4, and a little bit sketchy. If you're afraid of heights, just stop here and enjoy the view (it's still awesome). You can do this part any way you want, but easiest is to stay as low as possible (i.e. don't climb directly up the ridge) and try to spot your route pretty far in advance. Some of the climbing can be quite difficult, but it you stay off the ridge not too much can go wrong – just keep making your way to the top!

Read More

Tags

Rock Climbing
Hiking
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

This review is misleading

Cathedral Peak is not a 'fun easy' scramble, as this article makes it seem. The route up to the peak is scrambling, but there is plenty of room for error and falling. Once near the top, you have to climb a 5.6 / 5.7 chimney for about 15 feet to make the summit proper. Most won't have gear (if they did the scramble), and there is no protection at the bottom. If you were to fall during the chimney climb, you would die. This whole climb is incredibly exposed and takes navigating and experience to complete. Not trying to be alarmist, but if I had only read this post I'd think I could just head up there this weekend and crush it in my sneakers. Be prepared, smart, and safe out there. Cheers.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Wawona, California

Tuolumne Meadows

Overview Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located in breathtaking Yosemite National Park in Central California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain Range at an elevation of 8,600 feet. The site is situa...

Tioga Rd, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA 95389, USA

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Free ranger-led campfire programs and guided hikes are offered daily for Tuolumne Meadows Lodge guests. Breakfast and dinner service are available.

From $143/night

Lee Vining, California

Trailhead Group

Overview Trailhead Group Campground is located in the eastern high Sierra Nevada Mountains of California at just over 10,000 feet in elevation. Also known as Saddlebag Lake Group Campground, the fa...

Upper Pines Campground, California

Upper Pines

Overview Upper Pines Campground is located in breathtaking Yosemite National Park in Central California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain Range at an elevation of 4,000 feet. The site is situated in ...

From $26/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Backpack Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley

    Yosemite is an iconic park, and if you are looking for isolation with spectacular views of the backcountry this trip is for you. The trail itself is approximately 33 miles and can be done in 3-4 days, but I recommend a 6 day hike to enjoy the scen...

    33 miles 4800 ft gain

  • Backpack atop Donohue Pass

    Donohue Pass lies on the border of Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Both the John Muir Trail (JMT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) route through this pass at 11,056 ft.A challenging but beautiful hike that starts from Tuolu...

    25 miles 2456 ft gain

  • Backpack Cathedral Lakes

    Starting from the Tuolumne Meadows parking lot, this trail wanders through the classic High Sierra forest with large white granite boulders and pine trees. After approximately 4 miles of quiet solitude in the forest, you will reach Cathedral Lake...

    8 miles 1100 ft gain

  • Backpack to Boothe Lake

    Starting at the Tuolomne Meadows Visitor Center you will head south to jump on the John Muir Trail, move east for 2.8 miles on the JMT until the trail intersects with the Vogelsang High Sierra trailhead, you head south when you reach this trail. O...

    16.6 miles 1400 ft gain