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Cathedral Provincial Park
About This Park
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.
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.
Know Before You Go
- Help protect Cathedral's Mountain Goats
- When camping, use the facilities provided or come prepared with a ‘pee bottle’ to use at night. Do not urinate on the ground in campgrounds.
- When hiking, move at least 50 metres from the trail and urinate on snow or bare ground. Do not urinate on or beside trails.
- After cooking, dispose of dish water in outhouses. Do not pour onto the ground.
- After hiking, pack away sweaty clothing and gear. Do not leave hanging when you are not in your site.
- Mountain Goat Important Safety Information [PDF]
Potable water is not available in the park
All surface water must be treated, filtered or boiled prior to consumption.
- Dogs are not permitted in Cathedral Provincial Park.
- Please be aware of these camping ethics.
- Cathedral Lakes Lodge Ltd. operates a lodge and cabins on Quiniscoe Lake and provides transportation by four-wheel-drive from Ashnola River to Quiniscoe Lake (for a fee).
- National Topographic Series Maps Sheet 092H/01 (Ashnola) at a scale of 1:50,000 covers the Cathedral Lakes area.
HikingThere 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.
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.
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.
Activities Available at this Park
Horseback riding is only authorized by letter of permission into Twin Buttes and Haystack Lakes.
To obtain a letter of permission, contact the Okanagan Region at:
Parks and Protected Areas Section
Environmental Stewardship Division
Telephone: 250 490-8200
- There is no camping at the lakes, only at Twin Buttes. Maximum group size is four people and six horses and the maximum stay is three nights. Users must bring pelletized feed and hobble and move their horses regularly to prevent overgrazing and trampling.
- Access to Snowy Protected Area from Ewart Creek to the Juniper Creek Junction is permitted with no letter required.
- The Core Area is closed to horses.
Facilities Available at this Park
Cabins / Huts
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.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
Lakeview Trailhead, BuckHorn
This park offers limited vehicle accessible campsites on a first-come, first-served basis.
To access the Lakeview Trailhead campground, turn left at 13 km 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 20 metres 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 two kilometres further west along the Ashnola River almost at 16 km and the sites are maintained by a Park Operator. There is a limited number of picnic tables, fire rings and 2 pit toilets.
Core Area - Quiniscoe Lake, Lake of the Woods and Pyramid Lake
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.
An information shelter is located between the private lodge and the ranger cabin. At this shelter are self-registration envelopes and a metal vault. Upon arrival, campers should fill out the registration form and deposit their fee in the vault. This is for all three camping areas. 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 21–25. A firewood corral is located near the lodge access road approximately 100m 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.
Twin Buttes, Haystack Lakes, and Lindsey Creek
Wilderness or backcountry camping is allowed. No facilities are provided at these sites.
Backcountry fees are collected year-round, and payment can be made online up to 2 weeks prior to your arrival through Discover Camping, for Lake of the Woods and Quiniscoe Lake, only.
BC Parks Backcountry Registration System allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home. 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.