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Red Cathedral Out-and-Back

Intermediate
 4.6 (10) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A three mile round trip out-and-back run offering close-up views of canyons carved by flash floods.


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Map Key

2.9

Miles

4.7

KM

89%

Runnable

397' 121 m

High

-125' -38 m

Low

522' 159 m

Up

522' 159 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views

Overview

Run this in the afternoon so that the sun is setting on Red Cathedral when you arrive. The red rocks glow beautifully and the run is more shaded in the afternoon. Be warned there are some narrow passageways on the 0.5 mi section once you leave the Golden Canyon Trail. (Bring a headlamp if you plan to run this as the sunsets, just in case).

Need to Know

Some narrow spaces and minor rock scrambling needed. Carry lots of water and watch your head in low clearance areas.

Runner Notes

Golden Canyon is wide and has good footing, but the section to Red Cathedral is narrow and requires some scrambling.

Description

From the Golden Canyon parking lot head into the canyon via Golden Canyon Trail. Follow the canyon as it winds through the stratified rock. A few meters into the trail to your right, you can see that the trail was once paved and flash flooding has washed all but a small section of the pavement away; this little remnant is now several feet above the ground.

After following the canyon for a mile, a sign marks the way to Red Cathedral via Upper Golden Canyon Trail - Red Cathedral Access. Pay attention on the way; rocks should be lined up to prevent you from turning down a wrong canyon, but stay mindful of your surroundings. In the section to Red Cathedral there are several places where you have to squeeze in a narrow and places where you have to crouch under rocks to continue on. There are usually several approaches to each obstacle so take some time to plan you approach and stay safe.

After a narrow portion, the canyon widens an reveals Red Cathedral which is a truly awesome sight. Take a moment to rest and enjoy the beauty and silence before heading back the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

Some lizards can be seen in the late afternoon.

History & Background

This canyon was used while filming one of the Star Wars movies.

Contacts

Shared By:

Kathy Bass

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 10 votes

#1293

Overall
  4.6 from 10 votes
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4 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#204

in California

#1,293

Overall
18 Views Last Month
987 Since Apr 25, 2018
Intermediate

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Photos

The surreal multicolored canyon landscape just below the cathedral.
May 2, 2021 near Badwater, CA
On Golden Canyon Trail
Oct 17, 2018 near Badwater, CA
Death Valley National Park
Jan 25, 2016 near Badwater, CA
Entrance to Golden Canyon
Jan 24, 2016 near Badwater, CA
A portion of Red Cathedral shot looking back at the trail leading in
Apr 25, 2018 near Badwater, CA
Imagine seasonal floods rushing through this canyon framed by golden colored rocks.
May 2, 2021 near Badwater, CA

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Jun 22, 2019
Klein VerHill
2.9mi — 21h 27m