FATMAP difficulty grade
The Cathedral Lake Trail, which is not far from Aspen, boasts scenic views as it winds through Aspen groves and climbs uphill, gaining quite a bit of elevation over a relatively short distance. This trail is rated as difficult and is not recommended for beginners due to its rather steep elevation gain.
Despite its rating, the Cathedral Lake Trail is a fairly popular run, and many opt to take their 4-legged companions along, something that is allowable as long as dogs are kept on a leash.
The trail begins with a short, easy portion then begins a steady climb, following an uphill course for the majority of the way.
Along the path, runners can view meadows, wildflowers, and a waterfall that is just off the trail near a small clearing.
There is also a chance for runners to spot marmots and chipmunks as they make their way through the trees.
Near the top, the trail comes to an end in a series of rocky, exposed switchbacks, making it the most challenging section of the hike.
After this most difficult part of the trail, the ground levels out and runners will come to a stream which can be followed to the lake or crossed through a series of rock hops, depending on water levels at the time.
Runners have a number of routes available to cross the stream.
Once past the stream, runners will arrive at the turquoise waters of Cathedral Lake.
For additional views, runners can continue around the lake to a boulder field which offers scenic landscapes or a spot to break for lunch or a snack.
June through September is generally considered to be the best time period to use this trail, although runners may find mud, slush, and snowy conditions even into June.
Weather in this area can be unpredictable, and runners should check forecasts and be prepared for changeable conditions.