Located in Ashcroft, CO, just a short drive from Aspen, the Cathedral Lake trail lives up to its “strenuous” categorization at 5.6 miles roundtrip and 2,000 ft net elevation gain, almost all of which occurs in the first half of the trail.
I hiked this recently on a beautiful July afternoon, which was sunny and in the upper 70's - thankfully not too hot. The entire trek spanned 3 hours - 2 on the first half/uphill portion, and 1 hour back down to the trailhead.
Now that I’ve conquered the trail once, I know I’ll do a few thing differently on future visits, including:
Cathedral Lake was one of the more challenging trails I’ve hiked without a doubt - rivaling even the Mirador las Torres trail in Patagonian Chile (which is twice as long and equally as harrowing) - but the sheer majesty and grandeur of the scenery with every step was well worth it. And seriously, if I lived anywhere close to this trail, it would be a regular part of my ultra-training routine. This trail is an endurance athlete’s dream.
For more detail on Cathedral Lake, including driving directions and terrain breakdown, click here.