For most people, a trip to Cathedral Lakes is a major part of any Yosemite vacation. It is among Yosemite’s most attractive lakes, and is right in the midst of some of the most picturesque scenery around. You’ll have views of Cathedral Peak, Echo and Tresidder Peaks, as well as Tenaya Lake, which hangs beneath a wide rock shelf that borders the eastern shore of the lower lake. Add in the swimming capabilities (if you don’t mind the cold) and the polite folk that will be swimming with you, and you get a doozy of a tourist destination that you simply must visit.
Unfortunately, you will have to deal with large crowds on the way to, in, and on the way back from Cathedral Lakes. It is among the most popular tourist spots in the region, and thus it attracts flocks of people day in and day out. Fortunately, the lakes are big enough for everyone, and the landscape is even bigger, so no one will be getting in your way—not too much, at least.
Length and Hiking Time
To see both the upper and lower lakes, it is around an 8 mile round trip which will take you 3-5 hours, depending on how fast you go. But, bring your swim suit and plan for a day trip, as 3-5 hours is simply not enough to experience this incredible spectacle.
It is not too hard, but we wouldn’t suggest wearing your flip flops like you would on a beach vacation. After all, it is a 3-5 hour hike which could end up causing quite a few blisters. Also, it is a bit rugged at the beginning and end of this trek, which leads us to give it a medium as far as difficulty goes.