Cathedral Meadow

Copyright © 2016 Jared Manninen

Cathedral Meadow is accessible year-round. Hike there during the warmer months and snowshoe and cross-country ski in the snowy ones. Due to its location near Taylor Creek and Fallen Leaf Lake, the area is generally moist and home to many varieties of wildflowers throughout the spring and summer. In the fall, the Aspen grove adjacent to Cathedral Road illuminates the area with its lemon yellow leaves and the spawning Kokanee Salmon set Taylor Creek ablaze with their bold red scales. Inspiring views of Mount Tallac can be seen from the Aspen grove and the opposite side of the bridge that crosses the Fallen Leaf Lake outflow.

Copyright © 2016 Jared Manninen

Click on the above map to enlarge it for printing and better viewing. This map is only for reference. Always carry a traditional topographic map and compass when traveling in the backcountry.

Trail Data (approximations):

  • Location: South Tahoe – SR 89
  • Category of Route: Family Fun Hike, Day Hike
  • Total Mileage: 2.5 miles
  • Total Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Highest Point: 6,375 feet
  • Trail: Hard-packed soil and rocks, meadow (portions submerged in wet months)

Considerations:

  • Sno-Park permits are required between November 1st and May 31st
  • The portion of trail leading through the Aspens can be submerged in water during wet months
  • Dogs are allowed, but keep them on leash and pick up after them
  • Adhere to all Leave No Trace principles
  • There are few trail signs and markers on public lands in the Tahoe region, so unless there are tracks to follow, the correct route may be difficult to identify–when in doubt, turn back
  • Be prepared for inclement weather and carry plenty of warm clothes, food, and water
  • Leave an itinerary of your plans with someone who will call emergency services if you do not return by your prescribed time
Copyright © 2014 Jared Manninen

View of Mount Tallac From the outlet of Fallen Leaf Lake on October 12, 2014. © Jared Manninen

Parking:

Park at the Taylor Creek Sno-Park located a half mile north of the Taylor Creek Bridge on SR 89. As you enter the Sno-Park, choose the lot on the left and you’ll see a short trail leading up the hill and out of the parking area. Please note there are no actual signs indicating the trailhead. Also know that during the snowy months at Lake Tahoe (November through May), you’re required to have a Sno-Park permit to park in this lot. Purchase them in town because they aren’t sold at the actual Sno-Parks.

Below is a Google Map to assist you in finding the parking area for accessing Cathedral Meadow.

Travel:

Immediately following the short hump out of the parking lot, turn right and you’ll be on you way. The trail is sandwiched between Cathedral Road and Taylor Creek and travels about 1.25 miles to the bridge that crosses the Fallen Leaf Lake outflow. There are forks in the trail, but they link together to combine for approximately 2.5 miles of trails.

After big snow years, sections of Cathedral Meadow (particularly through the Aspen grove) can be submerged under water well into May and sometimes June due to snow melt and runoff. During those big snow years, you can cross-country ski and snowshoe at Cathedral Meadow, but it’s essentially located at lake level (i.e. the lowest point in the Lake Tahoe Basin), so it will take awhile for snow to accumulate in this area. Cathedral Meadow is an easily accessible and beautiful location in which to see the changing colors of Aspen leaves during the fall. And in spring and early summer you can often spot assorted wildflowers.

Copyright © 2016 Jared Manninen

Mount Tallac spied through spring Aspen trees at Cathedral Meadow on May 16, 2016. © Jared Manninen