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

Mount Hoffmann Trail - Yosemite NP, CA

81 7 0
Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Sierra Nevada > Kingman N
5 of 5 by 4
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,857 feet
Elevation Gain 1,996 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,008 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.84
Interest Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2017-09-12 trekkin_gecko
15  2017-09-12 Tortoise_Hiker
12  2016-07-21 John9L
13  2016-06-24 RickVincent
5  2016-06-21 DallinW
23  2013-07-23 chumley
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 75
Routes 667
Photos 13,172
Trips 1,417 map ( 10,542 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Jul, Aug, Sep, Jun → Any
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:46am - 5:54pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Yosemite's Center Point
by chumley

Likely In-Season!
"Ramble to the summit of Mt. Hoffmann, eleven thousand feet high, the highest point in life's journey my feet have yet touched. And what glorious landscapes are about me, new plants, new animals, new crystals, and multitudes of new mountains far higher than Hoffmann, towering in glorious array along the axis of the range, serene, majestic, snow-laden, sundrenched, vast domes and ridges shining below them, forests, lakes, and meadows in the hollows, the pure blue bell-flower sky brooding them all, --a glory day of admission into a new realm of wonders as if Nature had wooingly whispered, 'Come higher.'" - John Muir, July 26, 1869.

Mount Hoffmann is the 10,850-foot summit at the geographical center of Yosemite National Park. It is named after Charles F. Hoffmann, a cartographer on the California Geological Survey team that mapped the Sierra Nevada. There are no better views attained as easily in this wondrous park as this 6-mile round trip hike that gains 2,000 feet in elevation. It certainly doesn't hurt that the trailhead lies at an elevation that is higher than the top of Half Dome, seven miles to the south.

Hike: The hike begins at the May Lake Trailhead, which is 1.6 miles from the Tioga Road at the end of a narrow paved road. Take note here, since the trailhead is the only place you can view the true summit, to the left of the two more dominant features near the top of Mount Hoffmann. The first 1.2 miles of the hike follows the May Lake Trail to the High Sierra Camp at May Lake. This is an official park trail and is well-maintained and an easy hike gaining just under 500-feet in elevation.

From the camp area at the southeast corner of the lake, proceed along the use path on the southern shore until it begins to climb a small ridge toward the south through some young pine growth. At the top of the first small ascent, the trail levels briefly before ascending through a rocky chute. At the top of the chute, the trail levels again, with stunning views to the east. The route bypasses a fragile alpine meadow which is off-limits to hiking.

Counter-intuitively, the trail begins to descend slightly, with another lush green meadow visible below, but it quickly turns to the northwest and begins the ascent to the summit switchbacking across a large section of granite talus where the route can easily be lost. Ahead you see two prominent features that are false summits. The true summit will not be visible until you pass the crest above the talus slope. Here begins a beautiful straight stretch across a wide-open slope which in summer is covered in alpine grasses and flowers.

At the end of the slope the trail reaches a small saddle below the rocky ascent to the peak, with your first views to the north. There will likely be snow here even in late summer.

There is no marked route to the summit, but you can begin to ascend the last 0.15 mile by finding the path that works best for you. This will be class-3 scrambling and you will need to use your hands in a few spots. If you stay to the left/south, the climb is more moderate than the ridge on the right/north, but the ridge offers a 500-foot sheer cliff and beautiful views to the north.

At the summit, watch out for the marmots who will viciously attack your pack if you leave it unattended. If the weather is nice, there is plenty of room to relax and enjoy a short break before returning the same way you came.

Important Note: The trail to the summit of Mount Hoffmann is not an official trail. Years of use established a route, and in 2008, that route was improved by the Yosemite Conservancy. However, there are no trail signs and you will not find this trail marked on any park service maps. It is not maintained, and can be difficult to follow in some places. The trail continues to be marked by cairns. There are no nicely-sculpted granite steps as you will find on other park trails. Here you will scramble, and gaining the summit requires you to use your hands on the final section where there exists no trail at all.

Camping: At May Lake, there is the official HSC, as well as a backcountry hikers camp. Camping here requires a permit, obtainable online or at a backcountry office in the park, but is usually sold-out months in advance. Day-hiking is allowed without a permit. There are flush-toilets and potable water available from a spigot near the bathrooms at the southeast corner of the lake. Even with a backcountry permit, there are camping restrictions near the lake. While camping is permitted on Mount Hoffmann, as is the case throughout the park, campfires are prohibited above 9600-feet.

Swimming: Swimming is prohibited in May Lake due to its use as a source of drinking water.

Bears: The May Lake trailhead and the backcountry hikers camp at May Lake both feature food storage boxes. It is against the law to leave food in your vehicle at the trailhead.

"Go straight to Mount Hoffmann. From the summit nearly all the Yosemite Park is displayed like a map." -John Muir, on how to best enjoy your time in Yosemite.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2013-07-25 chumley
  • Yosemite Campgrounds
    area related
    Yosemite Campgrounds
  • Yosemite Park Map
    area related
    Yosemite Park Map
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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Mount Hoffmann Trail - Yosemite NP
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
denny and i wanted to do a hike on our way out of the park
we had several options, but mt. hoffmann was our first choice if we felt up to it after half dome
it's one of the featured hikes in denny's yosemite hiking book
chums has written a nice description for haz [ Mount Hoffmann Trail - Yosemite NP ]
got going early, arriving at may lake trailhead and beginning the hike at 0700
nice trail up to may lake, then a use trail along the lake, and up toward a meadow
a steeper grade up and around two false summits
we didn't see the peak until about a half mile to go
there is a flatter section of smooth trail leading to a saddle
the last pitch is a scramble up large granite boulders
a radio tower and a benchmark on top
this peak is the geographical center of yosemite, and the views are excellent
it wasn't quite as smoky or hazy this morning
we spent a few minutes on top, then headed down
the trail was easier to follow on the way down
i thought the unofficial trail on mt. dana was more obvious
another great peak and we were both glad we did it, even if the weekend's mileage and elevation gain were catching up with us
a good way to end the trip :)

denny, thank you so much for:
inviting me along - i had a great time
the stellar housing at yosemite lodge, more luxurious than our normal method of operation
driving - i liked the vegas route; very little traffic
safety first and watch out for clowns
you're a great hiking partner, and :yr:
Mount Hoffmann Trail - Yosemite NP
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
We headed to Yosemite on our second day and set up camp in White Wolf. We had the afternoon for some hiking so we headed back towards Tuolumne Meadows. Claire and I had our sights set on Mount Hoffman while Chumley was heading for Tenaya Peak. We dropped him off at the Sunrise Trailhead and then drove over to the May Lake Trailhead and started hiking soon after.

The first mile is fairly easy as you hike up to May Lake. From there we headed southwest on a well defined trail. The trail makes a solid climb up a rocky gully and then turns to the northwest and makes an aggressive climb for the summit. This climb took some effort as we made steady progress and stopped to admire the amazing views of Yosemite. Mount Hoffman is the geographical center of Yosemite and climbs to 10,850 ft. It was a clear day and we could see for miles!

The true summit finally comes into view roughly a half mile out. We could feel the elevation at this point and slowly headed up. The final push to the summit is a scramble that gets the heart rate up but is fairly straightforward. We took a direct route up and felt elated on the summit! The 360 views are just jaw dropping! We took a break and enjoyed a snack. There was a father and son on the summit too and they were good company. After we had our fill we started the descent. We opted for a safer descent that made a zigzag down. Once below the scramble section we made solid time back to the trailhead and met up with Chumley soon after.

Mount Hoffman is a sweet hike that only takes a few hours. The views are jaw dropping and the climb up is really fun. This is the perfect hike for those looking to get away from the crowds and off the beaten path.
Mount Hoffmann Trail - Yosemite NP
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Hippy wasn't feeling well, so she stayed back at the trailhead and took a nap while I explored this awesome (nearly) 11,000-foot peak in the geographic center of Yosemite National Park. The weather was great ... mid 60s, cloudy, and an occasional sprinkle. Ideally it would have been clear, but the views were still unbelievably spectacular. I made great time for a first ascent despite lots of stopping to take pictures, 90 minutes. I probably passed 20 people coming down, and saw another handful still going up. But it was a pleasantly unpopulated trail for midsummer in this National Park ... and for the views, this has to be the best short hike Yosemite has to offer.

I took some photos up top, but didn't spend a lot of time exploring. Another trip and I might visit the other two "false peaks" east of the true summit. It would be a great place to spend an entire afternoon (as long as no lightning threatens).

To anybody driving the Tioga Road, I can't recommend this hike enough!

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 the Tuolumne Meadows store, travel west on Tioga Road (CA 120) for 12.3 miles to the signed turn for May Lake. Proceed 1.6 miles to the end of the road.
page created by chumley on Jul 25 2013 2:38 pm
help comment issue

end of page marker