Cathedral Rock Hike at Mt. Charleston - Summary Page

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This page last updated on 08/03/2019
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Cathedral Rock
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07/30/2019 Hike Notes
This was my third hike attempt of Cathedral Rock. This was the last day of Christina's two week visit. It was a beautiful sunny day with a relatively strong breeze that made it 15 degrees cooler than in the city. It was in the mid 80's vice the 100 plus degrees in the city. Today I only hiked half of the trail, while Jim and Christina hike all the way to the top. Click here for pictures and a description of this hike ... Cathedral Rock Hike at Mt. Charleston - 07/30/2019 Hike Notes.

07/18/2012 Trip Notes:  On my first visit to the top of Cathedral Rock, Harvey Smith and I tackled this hike on the last day of a three day camping trip to Mt. Charleston. Advertised as a moderately strenuous 1.5-mile hike, we kept wondering where the moderate part was. There is a substantial 920-foot elevation gain to reach the top of this imposing limestone rock in a relatively short distance. The view in (Fig 01) above of the north face was taken from Kyle Canyon Road, about a half mile before the parking and trailhead area. The shot of the south face in (Fig 04) below was taken from a rest stop just beyond the trail’s halfway point, with nearly 500 feet in elevation gain still left. Fortunately, the views in every direction from the top are superb, making it one of the best vantage points in the Mt. Charleston area and well worth the effort. It really wouldn’t have been too bad if we hadn’t decided to add about another mile by following a trail (yellow trail on map (Fig. 02) above) that we thought might provide us with a different route down by leading us to the Little Falls Trail. Wrong! It dead ended several hundred feet above and beyond the top of Little Falls, with no way down. As a result we had to walk it all the way back to the intersection of the main trail before we could begin our descent down.

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The Hike: As the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area was closed, we had to start the hike from the somewhat harder, lower trailhead just above the free parking area. The trail follows an old road up an avalanche chute along the east side of Cathedral Rock, through a beautiful patch of quaking aspen (Figs. 05 & 06). In winter, repeated avalanches prevent conifer trees from growing here, thus opening the forest and allowing quaking aspen to grow (they bend under the snow). Besides several species of shrubs and wildflowers (Fig. 07), I captured some colorful shots of mushrooms (Fig. 08) growing on the side of a tree and some well worn tree stumps (Fig. 09). At the summit we were amazed to find several hummingbirds skirting the few shrubs that were scattered along its barren top. Surprisingly, for the time of day, we also saw a deer feeding in the aspen forest on the way down. Sorry, couldn’t get a picture.

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After reaching and crossing the saddle behind the summit (the intersection of the yellow and red trail on the above map) the trail climbs steeply through a few short switchbacks (Figs. 8 and 9) that lead to the summit. With the summit reached, there are spectacular views straight down to the picnic area and the lodge, the lower trailhead and parking areas, as well as off to the other peaks in the area including Mummy Mountain, Mt. Charleston and the village of Mt. Charleston (Fig. 10), Echo Cliff (Fig. 11) and the desert and Sheep Range (Fig. 12) far in the distance to the east. After this hike we headed to the lounge at the Mt. Charleston Lodge (bottom left foreground in Fig. 12) for some well deserved 1/2 price appetizers and beers.
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10/14/2012 Trip Notes: Being an absolutely beautiful day for a hike, I climbed Cathedral Rock for the second time this year with my friend, Jim Herring, who was in town on vacation. Though the peak foliage for this area was nearly three weeks ago, I was quite surprised to find that the large patches of aspens here still had some relatively good color. As evidenced by (Figs. 13 thru 15), the trail along the east side of Cathedral Rock passes through a large avalanche chute full of quaking aspen. The view in (Fig.16) was taken at the hikes halfway point. As usual, the views from the summit (Figs. 19 thru 21) were awesome. Once we reached the 8,000 foot elevation level we began to notice patches of snow in the shaded areas along the trail. Notice the snow atop Mt. Charleston’s peak in the background of (Fig. 21).

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As is usually the case, there were nearly a dozen Cliff Chipmunks (Figs. 22 thru 25) roaming the top of the rock dome looking for handouts from the hikers that make it to the top. Using some of the cashews I brought along for a snack, we spent nearly a half hour feeding them and capturing pictures as they ate and sometimes carried the nuts to their ‘secret’ hiding places.

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The picture in (Fig. 26) below shows the east face of Cathedral Rock.

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