The 8597ft Cathedral Rock is located in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness of Nevada. The trail to the top is only 1.3 miles long, but has tremendous views of Kyle Canyon, Charleston Peak, Lee Peak, Mummy Mountain, Fletcher Peak and Harris Mountain giving Cathedral Rock one of the best views to be had anywhere given a 2.6 mile round trip hike. See the video on this page for views and a description of all the points of interest on the horizon.
Cathedral Rock shares the South Climb Trailhead, the same trailhead that takes you to Griffith Peak and Charleston Peak. See the Griffith Peak page for directions to the trailhead.
I fell in love with this little trail on a recovery day after having engaged in weekly Saturday adventures of 15-20 miles or more week after week for over 6 months. My body said it was time for a rest, yet I still wanted an adventure and Cathedral Rock perfectly fit the occasion! The trail is one of the best and most beautiful short conditioning or rest trails to be had anywhere.
Beginning at the South Climb Trailhead above Charleston Village you take a right at the wrought iron fence toward Cathedral Rock instead of going straight via the South Climb to Griffith Peak and Mt. Charleston. The well-marked split-off heads up with a steady but healthy incline for the next 1.3 miles to the summit of Cathedral Rock. You’re moving through a beautiful pine forest amidst awesome towering cliff faces. The trail circles behind Cathedral rock, crosses a saddle below the summit and then ascends through a series of steps to the summit of Cathedral Rock.
There is a bench or huge log every 16th of mile all the way up, so it’s easy to stop and take a rest. This is a great trail for conditioning in the early Spring at an altitude between 7,800 and 8,500ft with a great surface and a healthy incline. Where there is still snow in the upper areas above 9000ft, this snow-free trail is a great way to become conditioned for higher altitudes and incline trails as you prepare for climbing season. On the other hand if you are not used to hiking and even if you’re in very poor condition, this is a great first hike to inspire you to get into shape to encounter wilderness beauty at its best. If you’re traveling to Las Vegas, what a great break from the Strip and those crowded casinos. Take a day off and head up Cathedral Rock! Huge total renewal of body, mind and spirit only about 45 minutes from the Strip!
Curiously, there are a few interesting break-off trails that appear to ascend towards the South ridge of Kyle canyon and on up to the summit. Potentially one of these could be a more direct route to the summit of Mt. Charleston. We’ll explore these on another trip, so stay tuned.
In summary, the Cathedral Rock trail is well worth the climb, yielding the best benefits I’ve ever experienced in a brief 1.3 mile trail! By the way, the descent back to the trailhead took me all of 15 minutes! I was preceding at a slow run given injury recovery requirements.
This fun family hike demonstrates the value of taking family members up the 1.3-mile Cathedral Rock trail in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Nevada. Pretty much all levels of hikers can make this trip. Dogs are welcome on all trails in the Mt. Charleston wilderness. One important consideration: As the hike begins at about 7500ft elevation, if you have not been up that high in the past week, you might experience some dizziness, nausea and altitude exhaustion. It might make the hike more enjoyable to have a family picnic at the South Climb Trailhead picnic area the day or week before hiking Cathedral Rock. This will give your body a chance to acclimatize to the altitude.