Scramble Yosemite's Cathedral Peak

Rate this Adventure Yosemite John Muir Trailhead

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!

Pack List

  • Water
  • Appropriate shoes
  • Camera
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Hiking, Rock Climbing

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Added by Christopher Grant

I'm a fourth year mechanical engineering major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I use a Canon 6D and love the outdoors!

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