Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,435.00 m (4,708.01 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
51.00 km (31.69 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Welcome to Canada's spectacular addition to the rugged North Cascades. 

Cathedral Provincial Park is nestled against the Canada - US border and tucked away between the lush Coast Mountains of the Canadian west coast and the dry lake country of the Okanagan. This beautiful Park is home to wet and dry forests, serene lakes and towering jagged peaks with stunning 360-degree views.

Accessing the 'Core' of the Park is via one of two main trailheads. The first trailhead is served only by the Cathedral Lakes Resort's Jeep and the second for conventional backpackers who choose to hike up the 15km and 1,300m elevation gain (9.5mi / 4,260ft) of the Lakeview Trail.

Whether you hike or drive, the park's alpine beauty and stunning views are saved from full view right until the very end, just as you arrive at Quiniscoe Lake and look up to rising rocky peaks. Quiniscoe Lake, sitting at 2,000m (6,500ft), is the hub of the Park, serving as home to the Park's largest campground, the Cathedral Lakes Lodge, and the ranger station. Two other campgrounds are also nearby - Pyramid and Lake of the Woods.

With a campsite (or cabin) readied, it's time for the main event - the hiking opportunities. The Rim Trail takes in the majority of the Park's stark peaks and comes together as a 16km (10mi) loop tent-to-tent. This trail will yield five peaks (with spur trails to two more), four lakes and stunning 360 degree views for hours on end. You might also be fortunate enough to see the resident mountain goats.

The Rim Trail also has a few 'outs', allowing you to save time while still enjoying the alpine delights. The Ladyslipper Lake Trail to Stone City and Smokey the Bear is one example, with Quiniscoe Lake up to Red Mountain another. Whatever trail you choose to the Rim, you are in for a steep climb up loose rock that eventually gives way to 'oh wows!' as you look south into the Pasayten and the glaciated peaks of the North Cascades, then around to distant peaks in all other directions.

The Rim Trail attracts the crowds, however there are plenty of other hiking options:

  • Goat Lake and the Boxcar offers lakes and vert topping out with views.
  • Scout Lake provides a gentle 3km (2mi) is a mellower option that still provides natural beauty and serenity.
  • The Centenial and Ewart Creek Trails span the park and are long enough to merit their own article.

There's also fantastic climbing options with the iconic Grimface popular, along with it's neighbors the Matriarch and Macabre Tower. A more relaxing option might be to throw a line in the lake and reel in the cutthroat trout from many of the Park's lakes.

Most people will visit in summer, however there's a couple of treats for those who take on the cooler conditions. Larch madness descends in late September as the pockets of larch trees turn from green to the stunning gold, then white as winter descends on this beautiful alpine treasure. 

Cathedral Provincial Park is located on the traditional unceeded territory of the Syilx/Okanagan People.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

3

Pros

Lakes. Alpine peaks. Wildlife. Amazing views.

Cons

Exposed. No potable water.

Trailhead Elevation

2,772.31 ft (845.00 m)

Highest point

8,599.08 ft (2,621.00 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Shelters
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

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