A few years ago I visited Cathedral Lakes for the first time. That time, I hiked the 14km into the core area of the park and camped on Quiniscoe Lake.
This time it was a bit cushier … we took the shuttle from the bottom and stayed at one of the cabins. Reservations are hard to come by and we were lucky to take over a friend’s reservation.
The operations are smooth (loading and unloading), and even though the famous Unimog vehicles weren’t used (apparently they don’t like the heat), we were comfy in the dusty Suburbans.
At 8 passengers per vehicle, I think there were 26 of us going into the park on Thursday.
After settling into our Lakeview Cabin, we left for a warmup hike around Scout Mountain.
After a steep climb to the far end of the Rim Trail, the trail wound around Scout Mountain, dropped down to Scout Lake and brought us back to the lodge in about 9.5km/365m elevation gain.
The wildflowers were still great and we met very few people.
We had brought our own food and enjoyed the leftovers from the birthday party as well as good coffee (took my barista travel set with me of course!). The cabin held 4 bunk beds, a small kitchen and larger sitting area, as well as a nice porch. Being right on Quiniscoe Lake, we swam in the clean water multiple times.
On Friday, we completed the big Rim Hike that is the crown jewel of the park. Starting on a well maintained trail along the campground, it quickly turned steep and technical, climbing up to Ladyslipper Lake.
From there, another steep section got us up to the Rim Trail. Just before the top, a family of mountain goats walked by undeterred, only wasting a few glances on us.
From the top, we did the out-and-back to Smokey the Bear and the Giant Cleft. It’s worth the extra mileage!
Then we continued along the Rim, looking down on Ladyslipper, Glacier and Quiniscoe Lakes.
There are options to drop down to each lake to return to the lodge and we took the last one, down to Quiniscoe Lake.
Another mountain goat family crossed our path up there.
It was a very steep and technical downhill, definitely more of a route than a trail. A lot of slow, carefully placed steps brought us back to the lake and the lodge. The total was 16.16km, in 6:02 hours (including all stops, moving time was 4:10 hrs) with 880m of gain.
After checkout at 9am the next morning, we did a quick trip to Glacier Lake where Graham couldn’t resist another swim. It was quiet in the park and we didn’t see any other hikers.
After checking out the Lake of the Woods campground, we headed back to the lodge, waited for our shuttle and were back at the car around 2pm.
I can highly recommend this park, and even hiking in isn’t as bad as it is made out to be (just a lot of elevation gain). The campgrounds are well maintained as well (I believe they are $10 per night).
The lodge has a hot tub, sauna and nice common area (we didn’t really use either).
On Thursday afternoon, an evacuation alert was issued due to the Cool Creek fire but it was more of a heads-up than an actual danger, as the fire was moving towards Princeton.
We had a clear day on Friday for our long hike, not missing the smoke in Kelowna at all.