Hiking Lower Cathedral Wash Trail to the Colorado River, An Epic Adventure

October 14, 2021By Amy

For those looking for a thrilling hike or an introduction to canyoneering without equipment, there is no better choice than Cathedral Wash through Marble Canyon in the Lees Ferry area of Arizona.

Puddles of water sit at the bottom of multiple levels of red rock canyon walls

To reach the trailhead, turn north off AZ Route 89-A onto Lees Ferry Road and drive for 1.4 miles on the paved road until reaching a pull-off section on the left side of the road for parking.

Sign for Cathedral Wash trails and red striped canyon walls in the background

The Upper and Lower Cathedral Wash Trails start at the trailhead parking. The Upper Cathedral Wash Trail is roughly 1.5 miles to the end of the box canyon and worthy of exploring, however, the Lower Cathedral Wash Trail is the one with more information and striking views.

Rocks and debris lie in a dry river bed between red canyon walls

This is not a trail to be rushed through or to simply sit back and enjoy the scenery with little thought. This trail is rather one to be immersed in - to stop, look around, and enjoy the scenery before deciding how to navigate over and through obstacles. No real technical knowledge or equipment is necessary to hike the canyon; just the ability to stop and look around for the best path for one’s abilities.

Cracked mud lies underneath standing water at the bottom of canyon floor

After hiking roughly ¼-mile through a relatively flat wash, the trail begins to descend deeper where some light scrambling will be required to drop down further or up and over areas with standing water. Depending on the time and weather, mud may be on the trail so the choice of shoes should be taken into consideration.

Two large rocks in a green-tinged river flowing through deep red canyon walls

After 1.5 miles, the trail ends at the Colorado River where hikers can stop and take in the small rapids flowing by. The cold water remains between about 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and provides some brisk relief to sore feet.

Interested in learning more about Lower Cathedral Wash Trail? Consider checking out our video, or get directions, pricing info, hours of operation and much more on our information page. Links below.