Easy Hiking in the Adirondacks: Cathedral Rocks & Bear Run

There are so many hikes in the Adirondacks that it can be overwhelming to pick which one to do. A lot of them are tough, long hikes to the top of mountains with sprawling vistas. But not everyone has the stamina or time to do these 10+ miles hikes. So where do you go for a shorter/easier hike? Well, the hike out to Cathedral Rocks and Bear Run is perfect for this! (Important note: no dogs allowed on this trail!)

Getting there

How you get there always depends on where you’re coming from. The trailhead is in Keene, at the junction of AuSable Rd and Highway 73. The hiker parking lot was full when we got there, so we parked on Highway 73. Then we walked down AuSable (turns into Lake Rd), which wasn’t open to street parking and goes along a golf course. It’s not a short walk, but it’s flat and easy (and quite pretty!).

At a certain point, you’ll see tennis courts on your left and a big resort (AuSable Club) in front of you. You want to turn down the road next to the tennis courts, which winds through a residential area. Before too long, you’ll come across a wooden gate. The gate is really cool and marks the entrance of the trail.

Once you’re past the gate, you’ll walk a luscious canopied, wide, flat, dirt trail. Keep on the lookout for signs on your right because this trailhead leads to several different trails. The sign you’re looking for says “East River Trail” and under that “Cathedral Rocks + Bear Run“. Don’t be fooled by the sign you come upon first, which is just for the East River Trail. Or do, because why not! There’s a lovely marsh to traipse through, if you do.

Bear Run

For a long while on this trail, you’re headed to both Cathedral Rocks and Bear Run. The trail is steadily uphill, but not hard. There’s a junction 45mins-1hr in that gives you the option of going to Bear Run. This is NOT TO MISS. It’s a short detour off the Cathedral Rocks trail and well worth it. The trail is marked with blue markers that wind up and over until you get to a chimney that you have to scramble up a bit to get to the overlook. There’s a boulder suspended in the chimney that adds just a bit more dare to the scramble. We made it more fun than it has to be — you can of course just walk over the rocks like a normal person.

Once you get through, you walk a short way to the overlook. There’s a rock bed to sit on and take in the view. This was our favorite part of this hike!

Cathedral Rocks

You leave bear run the same way you entered – through the chimney. You head back down the trail to the fork and this time, take the Cathedral Rocks path. A ways down, you’ll see huge rock walls until finally you get to what is officially Cathedral Rocks. These jutting rock walls are high and intimidating. We hung out for a bit just checking out how cool each nook within the rock was. This is what you came to see!

Pyramid Falls

When we were done taking in Cathedral Rocks, we continued on the path toward Pyramid Falls. This was one of those “am I on the right track?” paths. We followed the red colored markers, but still we wondered why we weren’t hearing any falls. Well, I don’t know if it was the time of year (July) or what, but when we finally came upon Pyramid Falls, it was a very cool rock formation, but just trickling falls. We honestly expected more and were happy that the trail to the falls was the same trail that leads you out, so we didn’t feel like we wasted time seeing it.

Canyon Bridge

As a bonus, on your way out you can follow the West River Trail to Canyon Bridge. Canyon Bridge is quite small, but it’s still fun to walk over the river this way!

This takes you back out to the big trail you started on, just quite a ways down the river. You take it back to the gate, down the road next to the golf course, and to your car. The hike overall took us around 3 hours (including getting to the trailhead), taking it easy and taking it in. If you’re ever in the Adirondacks and want to hike, but aren’t in the mood for something harder like Cascade Mountain, give this one a shot! There are also lots of great hikes to take it easy (or hard!) closer to NYC, if that’s your thing instead.

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