picture of cathedral rock trail

How To Hike Cathedral Rock On Mt. Charleston

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If you are a hiker in the Las Vegas area and want a great trail not too far away from the hustle and bustle of the strip, check out Cathedral Rock on Mt. Charleston.

About an hour from the heart of Las Vegas, this trail is high in the mountains above the heat of the desert and is an easy to follow trail that most levels of hikers could complete.

The summit boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below.

I completed this trail two times. The second time was with a group of 20 other hikers with varying levels of cardio and hiking experience. We all completed the trail and spent about 3 hours total on the mountain. It was a great trail to do as a group and was also dog-friendly. 

  • Parking: Yes
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes
  • Bathroom: At the trailhead 
  • Intensity level: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 971 feet

Basics For Hiking Cathedral Rock on Mt. Charleston

Cathedral Rock on Mt. Charleston is a 2.7-mile trail that is ranked as moderately intense.

The location of the trailhead is approximately 7,600 feet above sea level and is physically located at 1208 Cathedral Picnic Area, Mt Charleston, NV 89124, which is approximately an hour drive from the Las Vegas strip.

When you drive to the trailhead, there is a clear sign on the road that indicates it is Cathedral Rock. The trailhead is well-marked and is adjacent to a parking lot. The parking lot has bathroom access and a water faucet. 

a sign that says "cathedral rock trail" and a women standing next to it on a trail
Cathedral Rock trailhead sign at the parking lot. The sign is right in front of the trail.

The trail itself is well-marked.

There are a couple of places on the bottom of the trail where the path splits.

However, there are well-marked arrows that point to the Cathedral Rock trail. Follow the trail up the mountain. There are several benches along the way where you can sit and relax and enjoy beautiful views as you go up the trail. 

2 hikers on Cathedral Rock on Mt. Charleston
Starting the trail on a slow, steady incline.

The trail starts with a steady grade incline and then flattens out a bit towards the middle of the hike. The very end of the trail is a series of switchbacks that take you to the summit. 

About halfway up the trail, you will notice an old road that splits to the left behind a bench. Per my research on the trail, there is a waterfall up that road. My group did not search for the waterfall, so I cannot say with any certainty if it is there or not. 

A women sitting on a bench overlooking a valley
A bench at the flat part of the trail. This is about 3/4 of the way to the summit.

How Long Does It Take To Hike Cathedral Rock?

Generally speaking, I estimate it takes most hikers about 40-60 minutes to make it to the top of Cathedral Rock and less time to descend.

I would recommend spending at least 20 minutes at the top to check out the views and giving yourself around 2 hours to do the trail if you are a moderate hiker.

The trail time can definitely be shorter if you are in great physical shape or longer if you need to stop for more rest breaks along the way. 

2 women sitting with cathedral rock in the background
Sitting at the summit of the mountain with Cathedral Rock in the background

High Elevation Consideration

The Cathedral Rock trail is generally easy to find, easy to follow, and not a hard incline or descent for experienced hikers.

The most challenging part of this hike physically may be the high level of elevation.

The trail begins at 7,500 feet above sea level, and you gain another 971 feet during the hike.

The high elevation causes the oxygen in the air to be thinner and can make it harder for you to breathe as you complete the hike.

This can lead to increased sun exposure and dehydration.

My recommendation is to drink water as you climb the hike and to bring extra water if you are not used to hiking in high elevations. Also, take your time and go at a comfortable pace. 

group of people at the top of cathedral rock trail
Our group at the top of the mountain

Conclusions

Cathedral Rock on Mt. Charleston is a well-maintained, easy to follow trail located about an hour from the Las Vegas strip.

The views at the summit are beautiful and photo-worthy.

It is good for groups, dogs, and newer hikers who have good cardio endurance! It is not a technically challenging hike, although the high elevation and steady incline can be challenging.

Bring extra water and sun protection.

If you hiked Cathedral Falls and are interested in doing another hike in the same area, check out my review on Mary Jane Falls. This hike is a similar intensity to Cathedral Falls. Although, it is a bit more technical of a hike as some of the rock at the top of the trail is a little more eroded and the path is a bit harder to follow.

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