In 1848, General John C. Fremont made a disastrous attempt to cross the San Juan Mountains in the dead of winter while locating a route for the railroad. The route would be nearly impassable in a normal winter and the winter of 1848 was particularly harsh, with six to seven foot drifts in the mountains. Eleven of the 37 men and all of the 120 mules died on the trip. For several weeks all the men had to eat was mule.
The first two miles of the hike are on a 4-wheel-drive road (Forest Development Road # 640). The trail passes through several ecosystems, from aspen and Douglas fir stands, up into spruce and fir stands and finally into alpine meadows. From the lower parts of the trail the high cliffs for which Cathedral Campground is named can be seen.
Plans were made to by-pass private property in 1990. Please check with the Divide (Del Norte) Ranger District for completion dates and other information.
Directions from Del Norte, Colorado: Travel west 9.0 miles to the Embargo Bridge, then turn east after crossing the bridge. Go north on Embargo Road and follow the signs to Cathedral Campground.
June through October .