The South Ridge Route (class 2+) is probably the easiest route up North Cathedral. The south ridge, which begins at the saddle between North Cathedral and The Cathedral can be approached from either the Right Hand Fork Bear River (west route) or the Left Hand Fork (east), but it is easier to reach the saddle from the Right Hand Fork. This route usually takes two days or more.
Red = My route. Blue = Other alternates.
First you must drive Highway 150 south from Evanston Wyoming, or east and then north from Kamas Utah. The North Slope (gravel) road heads east from Highway 150 either just south of the Bear River Lodge, or two miles north of the Bear River Visitor Center. After following the North Slope Road for two miles, turn right and follow the main road all the way (don’t turn right and into the scout camp) to the trailhead. The road is usually a washboard, but any car should be able to make it.
E. FK. B. R. TR. HD. = East Fork Bear River Trailhead!
From the trailhead at 9150 feet elevation, follow the East Fork Bear River Trail east. There is a 4-way trail junction just after the trailhead, but go straight (the trail that crosses this one is the Bear River-Smiths Fork Trail. The trail drops down to the river at 8900 feet elevation, and after a few miles of following the trail along the river, the trail reaches a meadow with some very old “tie hack” cabins. These cabins were built during the 1860’s in order to cut timber for railroad ties for the Cross-Continental Railroad. Continue following the trail along the river at a gentle grade. After 4 miles, you will reach a trail junction. Turn right here on the trail posted for Priord Lake.
Follow the trail across the good bridge and along the river up to Norice Lake, which is 4.75 miles from the junction and at 10,450 feet elevation. The trail is not used heavily and last time I was there, I had to route-find after loosing the trail in places (early 1990’s). There are a few stream crossings and the trail is not exactly where the topo maps (Red Knob) show it. Don’t be surprised if the trail is on the opposite side of the trail than the map shows it at.
From Norice Lake, head northeast, keeping the base of the peak north of Yard Peak on your right. As you curve around the base of the ridge, you will enter a hidden little basin with a small lake.
From the little lake, head north along the grassy benches to the base of the steep ridge. Your objective is the low point on the ridge between North Cathedral and the Cathedral. Just head up to the low point. The route is steep and there are many boulders to scramble over, but there are no major obstacles.
Once at the low point, you can scramble north to the summit of North Cathedral. Again, there are no major obstacles and the route is easier than climbing The Cathedral from this direction.
Once you reach the summit of North Cathedral, it is recommended that you return to the low point between North Cathedral and The Cathedral before descening because there are some cliffs half way down the slope west of North Cathedral.
The round trip distance using this route is 22.5 miles, but you can cut some milage off by taking a more direct route to Right Fork from the base of the ridge. See the map above for details.
North Cathedral (left) as seen from around Norice Lake.
A good pair of boots, map, compass and/or GPS is needed.