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, including 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.
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. The new area provides no additional facilities.
Mountain Goat Important Safety Information [PDF]
Mountain goats crave salts. They will seek human salts in sweat and urine, which can result in conflict with people.
Potable water is not available in the park. All surface water must be treated, filtered, or boiled prior to consumption.
Reservations cannot be made for vehicle-accessible camping at Cathedral Parks. All vehicle-accessible campsites are available on a first come, first-served basis.
For backcountry camping, permits can be paid for ahead of time using the BC Parks backcountry permit registration service.
Refer to Core Area map [PDF]
Camping within the park’s core area is restricted to designated sites near Lake of the Woods, Pyramid Lake, and Quiniscoe Lake. All sites are first come, first served. Sites are usually accessible from June to September.
To reduce the visitor impact on the park, please view the following camping ethics.
Quiniscoe Lake has 30 sites designated by number posts.
The sites are spread out along the southern shore of the lake amongst Engelmann spruce, Lyall’s larch, and sub-alpine fir. Boulders and rock outcroppings are strewn about the area, evidence of the area’s glacial history.
The sites feature framed earth tent pads to minimize the impacts of camping by keeping people in designated areas. The sites are grouped together in clusters of three or four in order to share the 12 picnic tables and 13 fire rings. There are four pit toilets in the campground, one is near the lodge access road, a second is behind the ranger cabin between sites 4 and 7 and the other two are further along the lake beside the trail to sites 21 to 25.
A firewood corral is located near the lodge access road approximately 100 metres from the campsites. Campers are reminded to conserve firewood.
There are four wire mesh food caches on the ground to protect supplies from rodents and birds. They are not bear proof.
Lake of the Woods has 28 sites with framed earth tent pads along the northeast shore of the lake amidst smaller fir and larch trees. As a result, the sites are more open and less shaded than at Quiniscoe. The terrain is similarly rocky.
This is a more rustic campground with two pit toilets and no tables or fire rings. Fires are prohibited.
The location of the sites affords spectacular views of Lakeview, Pyramid and Quiniscoe Mountains, as well the jagged peaks of Grimface Mountain, the Macabre Tower, and the Boxcar. There are no food caches available at this campground.
Pyramid Lake is the smallest and quietest of the campgrounds with 12 sites.
The lake is nestled between the two sloping flanks Pyramid Mountain. The sites are in a thicker forest of large spruce similar to Quiniscoe. Some of the sites are located on a point overlooking the lake. The sites have framed earth tent pads but no tables or fire rings. There are two pit toilets and two wire mesh food caches.
Backcountry fees are collected year-round.
For Lake of the Woods and Quiniscoe Lake only, payment can be made online up to two weeks prior to your arrival through the BC Parks reservations service. Although the system does not reserve a campsite, the system provides visitors the convenience of prepaying for their trip and not having to carry cash. We encourage all visitors to register online so we can reduce the need to collect fees in the field.
There is an information shelter between the private lodge and the ranger cabin. Self-registration envelopes and a metal vault are available here for onsite payments. Upon arrival, campers should fill out the registration form and deposit their fee in the vault. This is for all three camping areas.
Contact Cathedral Lakes Lodge for more information on their facilities. There are no public cabins in the park. The ranger cabin at Quiniscoe Lake is for staff only.
This park offers limited vehicle-accessible campsites on a first come, first served basis.
To access the Lakeview Trailhead campground, turn left at 13km on the Ashnola Forest Service Road. Another 500m down this dirt road is the gravel trailhead parking lot. There are three walk-in sites along the river downstream from the footbridge. The sites are within 20m of the parking lot and are rustic, having only fire rings and no picnic tables or constructed tent pads. Two pit toilets are on the other side of the parking lot. Overnight parking is permitted for self-contained units. The sites are used most often as an overnight stop by people intending to hike into the Core Area and wanting an early start.
Buckhorn campground is 2km further west along the Ashnola River almost at 16km and the sites are maintained by a park operator. There is a limited number of picnic tables, fire rings and 2 pit toilets.
Wilderness camping is allowed at Twin Buttes, Haystack Lakes, and Lindsey Creek. No facilities are provided at these sites.
This is a wilderness area and visitors must be prepared. Freezing temperatures and snow can occur in any month and campfires cannot be relied upon for cooking or as a source of heat. Campers must bring portable stoves for cooking. Fires are prohibited at Lake of the Woods and Pyramid.
Firewood can be purchased from the park operator in some parks or you can bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park. Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small.
Cathedral Lakes Lodge offers day-trips into the Core Area driving up from the Ashnola at 8am and returning at 3:30pm.
This park only has pit toilets. No flush toilets are available.
There are three well-defined trails that can be used to enter the core area of the park. Once within the core area, there are plenty of shorter trails to explore.
For details see Cathedral Park: Hiking.
Although you can swim here, be aware that the lakes are glacier fed and the water is very cold. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
There are opportunities for canoeing or kayaking in this park.
There are opportunities for canoeing or kayaking in this park.
The lakes in the park are not stocked by the provincial hatcheries but they still support healthy populations of rainbow and cutthroat trout. This can be attributed to the abundance of spawning habitat in streams and along the lakeshores. In the fall, spawning trout can often been seen from small footbridges as the trail crosses the outlets of Ladyslipper Lake, Pyramid Lake, and Lake of the Woods.
Ladyslipper is reputed to have the best fishing in the park. Though the fish are generally small (6 to 10 inches), they are plentiful. No special restrictions apply. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
There are no viewing platforms but the scenery in the park is spectacular wherever you go. Hiking along the rim offers 360-degree vistas of the Cascade Mountains and the Okanagan Mountain Range. The peaks of Manning Park can be seen in the distance on clear days. The trails up to the rim travel through mixed forests of beautiful larch that turn golden in the fall. Stone City, the Giant Cleft, and the Devil’s Woodpile are fantastic rock formations that highlight the unique geology of the park.
Horseback riding is only authorized by letter of permission into Twin Buttes and Haystack Lakes.
To obtain a letter of permission, apply online.
You may also contact the Okanagan Region at Parks and Protected Areas Section, Environmental Stewardship Division, 250-490-8200.
Grimface, the Matriarch, and Macabre Tower offer mountaineering opportunities for experienced climbers.
Cathedral Park is open to the discharge of firearms from August 25 to April 15. The Core Area of the park is closed to the discharge of firearms. Hunters are permitted to carry unloaded firearms or bows only when in transit to an open area outside the Core Area during lawful hunting season. Please check the hunting guidelines for more information.
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: 3km west of Keremeos, the Ashnola Road leaves the highway and crosses a red covered bridge, 10km further the pavement ends and the Ashnola Forest Service Road begins and follows the Ashnola River into the park. This road extends 48km 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 16km.
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There are more than 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.
Cathedral 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– or blue-listed plant species, three red– or blue-listed mammals and two 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.
The list of wildlife in the park is long. Hikers may see larger mammals such as mule deer, mountain goat, and California bighorn sheep. The park also 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.
BC Parks honours Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the land and respects the importance of their diverse teachings, traditions, and practices within these territories. This park webpage may not adequately represent the full history of this park and the connection of Indigenous Peoples to this land. We are working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to update our websites so that they better reflect the history and cultures of these special places.