From the signed trailhead the trail starts in a westward direction at a slight grade. It winds through thick patches of aspens and evergreens before passing by the alternative trail. The trail turns south and heads toward the magnificent Echo Cliffs. The Cliffs have a sheer drop of almost 1,000 feet. As the trail snakes to the west of Echo Cliffs, a side trail leads to a small seep. Water flows from the seep in the spring.
Once past Echo Cliffs, the trail heads west and the grade becomes steeper as it makes its way across a slope. As you traverse the slope, you can see the destruction an avalanche can wreak on a mountain. Many trees and boulders are still misplaced by an avalanche that happened years ago.
The trail flattens out as it heads toward the backside of Cathedral Rock. This is the easiest and most enjoyable part of the trail, a cakewalk through a forest, and you forget that you're 8,000 feet above sea level.
Save your energy for the last quarter mile of the trail-it's steep. When the trail divides, go right on the unmarked footpath. About a half-dozen switchbacks leads to the top of Cathedral Rock. The view becomes more spectacular with every step. On the far NE side there's a place to sit and admire the view. Mt. Charleston Lodge lies 1,000 feet below and farther to the east you can see the desert floor. To the north is Mummy Mountain; to the NW is Mary Jane Falls, and to the west is Charleston Peak.
If you eat lunch, you may have a visitor or two. This is the only place in the world you'll have the opportunity to see the Palmer Chipmunk. As hard as it is, resist feeding them. By feeding them they become dependent on humans for their food. In the winter the chipmunks must rely on their food-gathering skills or perish. Watch children closely at the top; the drop-offs are more than 500 feet at the edges. Railings have been erected, but they seem to entice people to climb down to them.