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Cathedral Wash
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mini location map2019-06-14
20 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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Cathedral WashNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 14 2019
ddgrunning
Hiking5.12 Miles 438 AEG
Hiking5.12 Miles   2 Hrs   35 Mns   2.16 mph
438 ft AEG      13 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The destination for the day was the Kaibab Camper Village, after setting up a "meet-you-halfway" camping trip with three the three of our children (and two grandkids! :y: ) who live in Provo, UT. No one else would be getting to the campground until late afternoon, so on the way, my son and I took a slight detour to check out Cathedral Wash on the road to Lee's Ferry.

I had seen this hike when we overnighted at Lee's Ferry in advance of our Wire Pass-Lee's Ferry backpack of the Paria River a couple years back. We didn't have time to do it then, but today provided the perfect opportunity to check this one out.

Arrived around noon. It was hot, but the hike is relatively short and a dunk in the freezing cold waters of the Colorado awaited us at the halfway point on this out and back.

The trail starts from a pullout just along the main road and immediately you cross under the road via a huge culvert the separates "upper" and "lower" Cathedral Wash. There is also the option of hiking the upper portion, but who wants to do that when the Colorado River awaits on the lower end? :D

There were a couple of other cars at the TH, and we passed their occupants on the trail, but in general, traffic was very light. Probably busier in the cooler seasons.

The trail starts in a relatively broad wash with the Vermillion Cliffs towering over your shoulder, but within the first 1/2 mile the walls narrow a bit and the wash deepens. Lots of very cool effects of erosion to be seen along the way. The wash doesn't ever slot up or become technical, but there are a variety of downclimbs and bypasses to take advantage of. The biggest is a 30-ft pouroff about 1 mile in (just as you cross under the powerlines). The bypass is to the right. Nothing tricky, but there are a few places where you have to use your hands. I suppose navigation may be a bit more interesting when there is water flowing. On this trip, there were several muddy pools, but that's about it.

Near the end, the wash opens up again just before the confluence with the Colorado, which is marked by some rapids (maybe more of a "riffle," but I'm not a river guru), which we heard before we saw.

The river was beautifully smooth above the rapids. Saw a crane hanging out at the edge of the rapids. Spent too much time taking pictures, then took an obligatory dip in the river. There is a good spot for that just below the rapids, where the river fills in a little cove along the western bank.

Didn't see anyone at the river until just as we were leaving on our return trip.

The hike out provided fun views from the opposite perspective and with slightly more forgiving lighting.

Definitely worth a side trip if you have a couple of hours in the area.

FYI: $30 Glen Canyon Rec area pass is required and can be purchased from a vending machine (credit card) off the right side of the road as you drive in from 89A. I was originally bummed that I had to do the hike before our planned trip into the GC the next day when I planned to purchase an annual America the Beautiful Pass. But, as I found out the next day, the GCNP gave me credit for the $30 pass towards my America the Beautiful pass. Yay! :y:
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282 Photosets

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