A true wilderness experience, Cathedral Park comprises an expanse of jagged mountain peaks, azure lakes and flower-dappled alpine meadows that is definitely for the adventurous. Located between the dense, wet forests of the Cascade Mountains and the desert-like Okanagan Valley, this mountainous park offers a rich variety of terrain, flora and fauna.
Fascinating rock formations--including a jumble of columnar-jointed basalt forms and massive, wind-eroded quartz monzonite towers--make this an excellent spot for the experienced hiker. The lakes in the park look like turquoise jewels in a granite setting. Each of the close-knit group of lakes--Quiniscoe, Ladyslipper, Scout, Pyramid, Glacier, and Lake of the Woods--has a unique charm. Equally as beautiful are the tranquil Haystack Lakes, which are within a day’s hike of the main lake areas. Cathedral Park offers fishing, camping, wilderness camping, hiking, and mountaineering.
There are three well-defined hiking trails into the park. Hikers will require at least a full day to hike one-way into the core area.
- Short cutting switchbacks on trails or walking off the trails damages plants and soil structure causing erosion. Rocks and debris may also fall on hikers below. For conservation of the parks natural values, your safety and the safety of others, please stay on the designated trails and obey posted signs.
- In addition to the hiking trails listed below there are several cross-country routes. These routes are unmarked and should only be attempted by experienced, well-equipped hikers with proper foot wear, map-reading and route finding skills.
Persons considering a visit to Cathedral Provincial Park are reminded that the park is a wilderness area without supplies of any kind. Hikers should be in possession of suitable maps. All visitors must be prepared for outdoor living and be aware that freezing temperatures and snow may occur during any month. Equipment, such as tents and sleeping bags, must be able to withstand periods of inclement weather. Suitable clothing, including good waterproof/windproof raingear and insulating layers like fleece and down, is a must even if temperatures are warm in the Okanagan Valley. Anyone considering an overnight or longer hike should inform a responsible person or agency of their intentions. This information should include estimated departure and return times.
Location and Maps
Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Cathedral Park is southwest of Keremeos, bounded on the south by the British Columbia-Washington State border, on the east by Ewart Creek, and on the west and north by the Ashnola River.
Access is via Highway 3: three kilometres west of Keremeos, the Ashnola Road leaves the highway and crosses a red covered bridge, 10 kilometres further the pavement ends and the Ashnola Forest Service Road begins and follows the Ashnola River into the park. This road extends 48 kilometres upstream to the south end of the Ashnola Valley.
There are three hiking routes that provide access to the park’s core from the Ashnola River corridor: Ewart Creek, Lakeview, and Wall Creek. These routes are described on the hiking page. No vehicles into core area on private access road, hike-in only to core area.
A jeep service, operated by Cathedral Lakes Resort, provides transportation between their privately owned holdings on the Ashnola River and Quiniscoe Lake in the park’s core area, a distance of 16 kilometres.
Maps and Brochures
Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Nature and Culture
Cultural Heritage: There are over 800 lithic artifacts including flakes of basalt, white siltstone and various types of chert that are of provincial significance as well as multiple sites of bone fragments. European history is also evident in the four historic cabins dating from the early 1900s.
Conservation: Cathedral Provincial Park encompasses the variety of terrain and flora and fauna that is typical of the transition zone between the rain forest of the Cascade Mountains and the more arid Okanagan Valley. It contains habitat for 14 red/blue-listed plant species, 3 red/blue-listed mammals and 2 red-listed bird species (Sandhill crane and Prairie falcon). Forest cover is also varied. Douglas-fir predominates in the lower levels, interspersed with stands of cottonwood and aspen along the waterways. Lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce prefer higher ground, giving way to sub-alpine fir, balsam fir and Lyall’s larch. Flowers abound here, with heather and lupine and other varieties being fairly common at higher levels.
Wildlife: The list of wildlife in the park is lengthy. Hikers may see larger mammals such as mule deer, mountain goat and California bighorn sheep and the park encompasses grizzly and black bear habitat, though sightings are rare. The red-listed badger is also found in the park. Even casual visitors are apt to hear the whistle of a marmot as it suns itself on rocky outcroppings, or be accompanied by the chatter of squirrels and the raucous call of the whiskey jacks that frolic and flit along the forested trails. Most of the lakes and waterways support populations of rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Cathedral Protected Area was established on April 18, 2001, to enhance the ecological viability of Cathedral Park and to protect low elevation forests. This small protected area is an addition to the existing park.
If you have too many quotes from other people in your head, you can't create. You have to keep your head empty. That's why I am constantly enjoying the sky, the park, the walk.”