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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Clouds Rest, CA

Guide 16 Triplogs  1 Topic
  5 of 5 
303 16 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 13 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,168 feet
Elevation Gain 1,637 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,214 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 29.07
Interest Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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22  2019-05-22
Yosemite Mist Trail- Clouds Rest- Merced River
12  2017-09-09 trekkin_gecko
15  2017-09-09 Tortoise_Hiker
5  2016-06-20 DallinW
39  2016-06-08 uphill_junkie
28  2016-05-29 Lucyan
6  2015-09-19 Crzy4AZ
25  2014-06-11
Yosemite - Tenaya Lake to Happy Isles
Page 1,  2
Author John9L
author avatar Guides 6
Routes 174
Photos 5,219
Trips 1,638 map ( 11,345 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Jul, Aug, Sep, Jun → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  4:35am - 7:23pm
Official Route
2 Alternative

Walk among the Clouds
by John9L

Likely In-Season!
The Clouds Rest Trail is one of the premier hikes in Yosemite that does not get the crowds you'll find on Half Dome. This is an excellent alternative if permits are not available for Half Dome. The trail starts on the southwest side of Tenaya Lake at the Sunrise Trailhead. There is a fair amount of parking available. You can also park along Tioga Road. Bear Storage Lockers are available at the Trailhead as well. Don't leave any scented items in your car or it will be at risk to a bear. They are known for breaking into cars.

The trail starts off on pavement but turns to dirt soon after. You'll cross a creek and continue on relatively flat ground. The first mile meanders into the forest. You'll be treated to a magnificent view of Clouds Rest a little less than a mile into the hike. Continue on and the trail will start heading uphill. This portion is the longest climb of the hike. It's good to get it out of the way early. As you make your way up the switchbacks you'll be treated to nice views to the north of Mount Hoffman. Also keep your eye out for Yellow Bellied Marmots. I saw four of them throughout this hike.

At the 2.5 mile mark, the trail reaches a saddle where you come to a signed trail junction. The Sunrise High Sierra Camp heads to the east. Continue straight for Clouds Rest. The trail immediately starts descending downhill and continues for roughly a half mile. Things level off and you'll eventually come to a small pond. This is your best opportunity for treating water. This is also a good area to camp. The trail continues through the forest with limited views.

You reach the next junction at the 4.5 mile mark. This is a signed junction as well but there is no mention of Clouds Rest. A trail takes off to the left and leads to Little Yosemite Valley. You'll need to continue heading straight. As you proceed the trail starts to gain elevation again. Keep in mind your hiking at roughly 9,000 feet so you might find yourself winded. Take a moment to catch your breath and continue when you're ready. Your almost there!

The last stretch involves a mixture of flat hiking and uphill. You'll have some brief glances of the summit as you near. Finally you emerge from the forest and can see the final climb. The climb to the top follows a granite staircase. There is no set "trail". Just head up whatever route you choose. There is a drop on both sides but I never felt any anxiety along this stretch. There was a light wind blowing. Strong winds will make this stretch a little dangerous. After a few minutes you'll reach the summit and are greeted with 360 degree views of Yosemite. Half Dome lies below you to the west. You look down on the cable route. The Clark Range lies to the south. You're starting point, Tenaya Lake, lies to the west. Mount Hoffman lies to the north.

After you have your fill on the summit, return the way you came. You can also continue hiking west. This will lead you to the Half Dome trail. You can summit Half Dome (Permit Required) or head for Yosemite Valley. Whatever route you choose will be rewarding. After completing the hike, you'll look at Clouds Rest in a different light.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2012-07-15 John9L
  • Yosemite Park Map
    area related
    Yosemite Park Map
  • Yosemite Campgrounds
    area related
    Yosemite Campgrounds
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$

Yosemite National Park
Entrance Fees
Wilderness Permit
Half Dome Permit - Currently required 7 days a week. Check the link for the most up to date information.

2014 - 300 permits issued daily, 225 for dayhikers.
2013 - 400 permits issued daily, 300 for dayhikers.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Fresno, follow the 41 north into Yosemite National Park. Continue heading north and turn right on Big Oak Flat Road and follow for roughly 10 miles. Turn right on Tioga Rd CA-120 and follow for 31 miles to Sunrise Trailhead on the southwest corner of Tenaya Lake. Note the Tioga Rd is open seasonally during the summer. Check current conditions before making the trip.
page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Jul 14 2012 11:00 pm
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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