The Cathedral trail is 3.7 miles long. It begins at Forest Road 640 at Cathedral Campground and ends at Forest Trail 795. The trail begins on the east side of the larger and more northerly loop of Cathedral Campground, you are lead over Cathedral Creek before swinging north to head up this exceptionally scenic drainage. The lower portion of the trail from the campground at Cathedral Rocks is the easiest to negotiate. From Cathedral Rocks, the trail climbs steeper and becomes rocky until it tops out near Groundhog Park. Cathedral Creek and Cathedral Rocks are scenic attractions along the way.
The trail climbs steadily yet moderately upward along the creek and toward the towering cliffs of Cathedral Rock. The trail crosses the creek many times and in places is rocky. Shortly before reaching the notch between high jagged cliffs, the trail comes upon a small rushing waterfall. From here, the draw narrows among the cliffs. Spruce trees continue to shade the remainder of the trail passing through two fences about 0.5 miles apart, the second being the La Garita Drift fence. Four switchbacks take you up to pass through a saddle where the trail levels and edges around a grassy park.
The trail then crosses a logging road, not on the RGNF Map, sloping downward through the timber to the opposite trailhead on FDR#650. You may wish to continue across the road for 1/8 mile to a trail junction. Southeasterly the trail meanders through the grassy meadows of Groundhog Park. Northwesterly, the trail heads up toward the 12,944 foot peak of Mesa Mountain. Normally open May through October. The single track trail is open for the following uses: Motorcycle Trail Riding, Mtn Biking, Foot and Horse Travel. No ATVs are allowed. This trail is very rocky and steep in places, not recommended for the novice motorcycle rider or mountain biker.
Directions: From Del Norte, Colorado: Travel 8.75 miles west on U.S. Highway 160. Take Embargo Creek access road east for 5.0 miles to Forest Road # 650. Take FR # 650 north for 3.0 miles to FR # 640 west/northwest 7.0 miles to campground entrance.
From South Fork, CO, take US 160 east 5.3 miles to Embargo Creek Rd. and County Rd. 18 signs. Turn left onto Rd. 18 and go 1.4 miles to a "T" intersection (County Rd. 15). Turn right onto Rd. 15 and go 0.3 miles to another "T" intersection (County Rd. 65) Turn left onto Rd. 65 and go 3.2 miles to "Y" intersection (Forest Rd. 640/650). Bear left onto Rd. 640 (dirt, single lane with no turnouts) 7.6 miles to Cathedral campground sign. Right at sign into campground. Trailhead is off the upper loop of the campground.
Fees: No Fees
Open Season: May
Best Season: June to September
Busiest Season: July
Closest Towns: South Fork, CO
Water: Yes, at Campground Trailhead
Restroom: Yes, at Campground Trailhead
Elevation: 9400 - 11200
Restrictions: No JEEPS, NO ATV's.
Area Amenities: Tent camping,Camping trailer,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Operational Hours: This trail is open year around but is usually snowed in from December through April each winter. It is not recommended for winter use.