Alpen Glow at Lower Cathedral Lake

Alpen Glow at Lower Cathedral Lake

Lower Cathedral Lake in Yosemite After A Thunderstorm

I caught this on a short backcountry backpacking trip in the Tuolumne Meadows area in Yosemite National Park.

To get here, the trailhead is just west of the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. It’s fairly popular nowadays and you’ll have to contend with finding a good parking spot. The parking alone will probably add to the short 6-mile roundtrip hike. Bears are known to frequent the area so there is a bear canister requirement to stash your food.

To access this trail, start hiking on the John Muir Trail for roughly 3 kilometers. The John Muir Trail climbs steeply through a lodgepole pine forest, levels out and crosses several branches of Cathedral Creek, and then climbs steeply again until the road levels out at the base of Cathedral Peak. At This Time, the John Muir Trail widens and becomes sandy as it proceeds into the junction of the Lower Cathedral Lake Trail, where the Lower Cathedral Trail begins.

Turn right and follow the road for approximately .5 miles through regions of wildflowers that bloom in the summer until you arrive at the seat of the bedrock of the lake. You may have to rock hop a small creek along the way at a meadow based on the time of year. You can see a rust line on the rocks, which indicates the high water mark when the meadows are flooded in the early part of the season as the snow melts.

There’s are areas to relax and warm up in sunlight, or you can continue to work your way around on the right-hand side of this lake, following the road to its terminus. Though rather cold, this relatively shallow lake provides many opportunities for swimming or simply relaxing on the warm stones along the edge of the lake. There are many hikers here since this is a popular trail due to it’s proximity to Tioga Road and the John Muir Trail, but there’s a big area to spread out along the coastline.

If you hike to the end of the trail on the right side of the lake to explore the lake’s outlet, views of Polly Dome, Pywiack Dome, Mount Hoffman, Tenaya Peak and some of Tenaya Lake can be easily seen. When you are done exploring, you can blaze the trail back to your vehicle or simply pitch a tent and enjoy a night under the stars.

Have you hiked a trail in Tuolumne Meadows?


Category Landscape
Exposure Manual exposure, 1/3 sec, f/8, ISO 100
Camera Canon 5D MII
Lens Canon 24mm TSE
Filter Polarizer & Graduated Neutral Density Filter
Location Yosemite, California
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