Cathedral Rock Trail is a 3 mile out and back trail located in Mt. Charleston, Nevada, which is only 35 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. It's one of the most popular trails in Mt. Charleston.
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.
From the Mirage on Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) go north 1.5 miles and turn west (left) onto Sahara. In less than one mile, turn north (right) onto I-15. Take I-15 two miles to US 95 north. Take US 95 north 14 miles to State Route 157. Go left on 157, drive past the hairpin turn, and turn right into Cathedral Rock Picnic Area. The signed trailhead is on the west (right) side of the road, less than 100 yards beyond the fee booth. The entrance fee is eight dollars per car. Parking is available across from the trailhead; however, it will full on weekends. Alternative parking is located on State Route 157 about a half-mile past the hairpin turn on the west side of the road. Theres no parking fee here. A restroom is located at the alternative trailhead. Do NOT park in no parking zones. You will get an expensive ticket.
Walk south on the road into the signed Cathedral Rock Picnic Area and continue a few hundred yards to the signed trailhead.
Limited parking. $8 per car if you park inside of Cathedral Rock Picnic Area.
If you park outside of Cathedral Rock Picnic Area, there's no fee.
There's a restroom and Mt. Charleston Lodge is just down the road a few hundred yards.