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

Ten Lakes - Yosemite, CA

191 10 0
Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Sierra Nevada
5 of 5 by 8
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 6.06 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,490 feet
Elevation Gain 2,179 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,244 feet
Avg Time One Way 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.54
Interest Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2018-09-08 trekkin_gecko
15  2018-09-08 Tortoise_Hiker
11  2018-09-08 johnlp
39  2018-07-31
Murphy Creek Trail to Polly Dome Lake
17  2014-06-14
Yosemite - Ten Lakes
41  2014-06-14 chumley
28  2014-06-14 John9L
25  2014-06-14 squatpuke
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 → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:45am - 5:57pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
So beautiful you forget how to count!
by chumley

Likely In-Season!
This high-country trail leads to the spectacularly scenic Ten Lakes in Yosemite National Park. This is one of the most popular hikes in the park away from Yosemite Valley. It is frequented by last-minute backpackers who find that overnight permits are often available at the Wilderness Center when other hikes beginning in Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows are not available.

Permit Information
Day-hiking to Ten Lakes is permitted without a permit. Overnight use requires a Wilderness Permit issued by Yosemite National Park. Permits can be reserved 24 weeks before your trip, but some last-minute permits may be available from the Wilderness Center. See permits for more information. There are 40 permits available from this trailhead each day--more than any other in the entire park! The destination offers dozens of places to camp so that solitude can be easily found. But you should also expect to encounter a few other backpackers while in this area.

Hike Information
The hike begins across the road from the Yosemite Creek Trailhead on the Tioga Road about an hour from Yosemite Valley. There are restrooms and bear boxes at the trailhead. Shortly after beginning the hike you encounter the trail junction that leads down-canyon to Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Valley via Yosemite Creek. Turn right at the junction and head uphill. The first half mile of trail follows a lightly wooded area before entering more exposed granite terrain for a mile or so. The trail is occasionally difficult to follow on the open granite, but if you keep an eye out for cairns and generally stay on the high side, you will be on route.

At 2.1 miles you reach a signed trail junction indicating White Wolf 5.5 miles to the west. The trail also crosses a small creek here before shifting to a steeper climb through nicely shaded pine forest. The footing along this stretch is a very pleasant soft dirt. The trail crosses another creek at 3.4 miles before cresting a small summit and entering the beautiful Halfmoon Meadow at 4.0 miles.

The trail skirts the northwest side of the meadow before beginning a steep, switchback-filled ascent that climbs about 600 feet in half a mile. When you think you've reached the top, the trail turns to the right and climbs a bit more through some rocky terrain to the the trail junction for Grant Lakes at 4.8 miles and the summit of Ten Lakes Pass at the 5.0 mile mark.

The crest of 9,686-foot Ten Lakes Pass offers some stunning views over the majestic Sierra Nevada and the northern reaches of Yosemite National Park. The trail begins to drop off the pass before the first of the lakes comes into view, followed shortly by a second. As you switchback down toward the lakes, a view down to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River appears on the left.

Once at the bottom, most people will camp along the nearest shore of the first lake. But there are ample alternate campsites to choose from. Don't be afraid to hike a bit farther. Each of the lakes offers different views and perspectives, with creeks and cascades flowing between them. The marked/maintained trail continues to the east, and can be used to connect other great backpacking destinations including High Sierra Camps at May Lake and Glen Aulin, or to trailheads at Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadow. There are unmaintained use paths to all the lakes and these make for great day trips or exploring while you are in the Ten Lakes area.

Yosemite regulations require you to camp at least 100 feet from the lake shore, and 100 feet from a trail. If you wish to have a fire, you must use an existing fire ring. Bears are prevalent throughout Yosemite National Park, and the use of a bear-resistant canister for food (and all items with a scent) is required by federal law. These rules are explained when you get your permit, but it is worth noting here since this is a popular area.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2014-08-12 chumley
  • Yosemite Campgrounds
    area related
    Yosemite Campgrounds
  • Yosemite Park Map
    area related
    Yosemite Park Map

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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
Ten Lakes - Yosemite
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
This area is incredible, and I'd love to go back and explore it a little more.

The trail is very interesting. It begins in the trees and then wanders through a large expanse of desert and boulders, eventually rising in elevation into grasses and evergreens. Claire and I stuck together, composing lyrical masterpieces while we walked. We followed the path up, along a trickling creek, before sighting snow in a meadow.. and the trip's second (albeit edited for content) tiny snowperson. The trail topped out and revealed distant peaks, and eventually our destination: lakes quietly draped across the valley floor. We descended and eventually found an arrow directing us.. but to where? We wandered for a while and then gave up and returned to the trail to wait. We snacked for a bit before Chumley came back to collect us.

Chumley led us around one of the lakes, and we set up camp. It was perfect. So quiet and serene. Camps and fires were made, and we ate, drank, and laughed as the darkness descended.

In the morning, Claire and I had given distinct instructions to let us sleep in. (Beauty rest?) When we awoke, we made breakfast as the others returned and told us of the lakes and other features they had seen. Eventually it was time to pack everything up, and we ventured back to the car, singing about Chumley Cabana. We searched for signs of our snowperson on the way back, but he (she?) had apparently decided to hike on.

If I get the chance to return to this area, I'd like to explore further and maybe stay an extra night. There is much to be seen in this wilderness... and such is true about the rest of the park too. :)
Ten Lakes - Yosemite
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
This last trip turned out to be AWESOME despite my earlier and anxious thinking. It's amazing what a shower and large pizza will do for ones will-power. :)

After completing 3 wonderful days with mosquito infested Cloud's Rest, dark and dangerous Half-Dome and sleeping inches away from a bear in Yosemite Valley, our group replenished at the expensive tourist market there in the Village. I purchased some spicy brauts for tonight's self-envisioned campfire feast. [BTW, Chum kindly shared his brauts a few nights earlier when my Mtn House became spoiled by highly chlorinated water. Seems I overly sterilized my filter - lesson learned.]

9L and I sat in the very back of the rented van for the first time and we had a long ride to Ten Lakes; I made an immediate impression by spilling a packet of open soy sauce on him, hehe...So glad I weigh 70lbs more than him ( :wlift: ). Anyhoo...we made it to the trailhead, prepped up (sans Ben who left us the night before), and hit the trail...this time with Parnelli Clairbear who wasn't with us the first leg of the trip (I'm sure the extra estrogen was appreciated by Liz!)

The Ten Lakes trail follows a gradual incline to the north with a large slabbed, rocky area about a mile in. Consider always hiking westerly during this vague section, as it's an easy place to get lost. It continues north to an open and very large, beautiful meadow. The ladies were trailing behind us, so with great dignity, our group-leader creatively formed markers, drawings and snowmen to denote our presence ahead. Very considerate!

Kyle, John and I made it to the first campsites on the south side of the Lake 8947, but Chum had completely vanished. We soon found out, had circumvented the entire lake looking for the ideal campsite for us; I'm sure he found it there on the lonely north side. Very spacious and plenty of firewood.

Each of the lakes in this area drains into another, so there are wonderful streams and waterfalls between each of these gorgeous, crystalline lakes. I think everyone wished they had more time to explore this area. Many of the lakes had little rock tempting to swim out to - I wished I now had done that.

As I returned from a water run...I saw a odd and slithering lizard that gave me a that I've Googled, I'm pretty sure it was a "SKINK" of some sorts; I had never seen one of these before and it was definitely a wildlife highlight. I snapped some photos; every time I got close to the rascal, he would become more aggressive; even took a snap at me.

The campfire was very entertaining that evening. Beer supplies had been freshly replenished and Chumley had carried in so many, he had a tough time keeping track of them all. The ladies entertained us with CopaCoChumly parodies and the spicy bruats I hauled in and cooked over the campfire were unforgettable-pure-awesomeness.

The next morning, the ladies slept in while Chumly, Kyle and John went off to explore the lakes to the east...I decided to climb Grand Mountain just to the north (great views). Once we regrouped, we all headed back out...Chumly, John and I took the 1 mile side trip to the first Grant Lake (Chumley climbed 500' up to the second). Kyle guarded our treed packs from a nearby marmot until the girls arrived then hiked out with them. I was the first to return from Grant, so I solo'd out again on the return trip back. Was awesome timing for each of us returned to the vehicle within a few minutes of each other..

We again crashed in Vegas at my friends house and with the "semi-late" evening arrival, I was grateful that I didn't go out for a spanking that night, (although I think 9L was upset about missing..uhhh...ignor this last paragraph...what happens in Vegas, yada)

I think this hike was a definite highlight and I would highly recommend the Ten Lakes area to anyone interested.
Ten Lakes - Yosemite
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
In a week backpacking through Yosemite that included summiting Clouds Rest and a full-moon night summit of Half Dome, how could one even imagine that this hike would be the highlight!?

Chalk this up on your list of places to go. :)

After the miles racked up on previous days, we were all a little bit tired, and the first four miles was a slow and steady climb, followed by another mile of steeper switchbacks. But once on top, the views opened up to what can truly be described as breathtaking. We all admired in awe before descending the final mile to the main lake.

I found a huge campsite on the far side of the lake, and we settled in for the afternoon. 9L and I explored for 90 minutes over 1.5 miles exploring a little bit down the huge drainage toward the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, and then around the second of the 7 Ten Lakes before returning to camp.

Larry revealed that he doesn't know how to start a fire, and Kyle realized that I'm an anal-retentive micromanager. We had brought several beverages with us, so the evening was filled with plenty of laughter. Claire and Liz even composed a song. Something about eskimos. Probably because it was chilly and there was plenty of snow in the surrounding mountains. At least that's my story.

9L finally got the right bear canister lid back, and I found a lost beer. All was right with the world as we all dozed off for the night.

In the morning, 9L, Kyle, and I went for a hike while the girls slept in, and Larry tended to the fire. Two and a half hours, and 4.5 miles later, we returned to camp having visited four more of the 7 Ten Lakes. Each lake is beautiful in a different way, and linked by streams, cascades, waterfalls, and amazing alpine forest scenery. Most lakes have use trails around and between them, but we made a fully off-trail trip between the south lake and 9398. From there, a maintained trail leads back to the main lake.

Back at camp, we packed up and headed back out toward the trailhead. At the crest of the Ten Lakes Pass, three of us dropped our packs and made the side trip down to the first of the Grant Lakes. I continued to the second, which was a great off-trail hike along a continuous 250-foot high cascading stream between the two lakes. Either of these would be worthy backpacking destinations! We saw a couple of marmots and some deer along the way.

An hour and 20 minutes behind the others I put it in overdrive for the 5-miles back to the trailhead, and arrived only a few minutes after them. We packed up and headed to Tuolumne for a bite to eat. There we met 6 guys and a girl from Tempe who had just started the JMT. I was wearing an AZW shirt, and the girl works at Four Peaks. They were HAZ lurkers too. Small world! :)

By 5pm we were on the road back to Vegas, where Larry had some friends who were kind enough to let us break up the drive and crash on their floor. Gotta love a Vegas hookup! Thanks Larry!

Monday we made the final drive home. I dropped off the rental, having totally exploited the bargain price by dropping 1700 miles on it :sl: .
BTW, a Chrysler Town & Country takes 6 adults and all their gear just fine. Satellite radio, DVD video, 110-volt outlets, 6 lighter ports, and 23+mpg at 80-85mph was pretty nice. Including a couple of $5/gallon fuel fills, it still cost us about half the federal reimbursement rate on mileage. Split six ways, I think we all had the least expensive weeklong trip possible. :)
Ten Lakes - Yosemite
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
The second leg of our trip started on Saturday morning at the Backpackers Campground in Yosemite Valley. We broke camp and then made a stop at the general store and then headed back to the high country. The plan was to hike to the Ten Lakes Basin and camp near one of the lakes. We would hike out on Sunday and start the return to Phoenix.

The Ten Lakes Trail is roughly 6.5 miles long and gains 2,000 ft. I started a little bit earlier than everyone else and took my time heading in. I stopped a few times to admire the views of Mount Hoffman and Tuolumne Peak to the east. I want to visit both summits someday. I continued hiking and was met by Kyle near the Half Moon Meadow. From here the trail gains 500+ feet over the next half mile as it climbs to Ten Lakes Pass. Once Kyle and I were up there we took a break and waited for Larry & Chumley to catch up. Liz and Claire were taking their time and would meet us at the lake. The views to the north are just draw dropping! There are so many peaks and so much to explore!

After the pass the trail drops roughly 600 ft into the Ten Lakes Basin. The views on this side are just spectacular. Each lake slowly comes into view and the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne River looms to the north. That is another hike I want to do someday. We continued on and eventually reached one of the lakes at the bottom of the trail. Chumley left us and found a sweet site on the east side of the lake. We made our way over there and set up camp. The girls were less than an hour behind us and joined us at camp.

After getting camp settled, Chumley and I went over to the north side of the lake to have a look around. There is a steep drainage that drops over 3,500 ft into the Tuolumne River. The drop looks non-technical but it was impossible to tell from our viewpoint. After a few minutes we walked over to the east to check out another lake. Again it was just breathtaking! From there we dropped back into camp and spent the rest of the evening enjoying each other’s company over numerous libations!

We woke on our last day and wanted to do some exploring while the girls slept in. Kyle, Chumley and I made a counter clockwise loop that took us by four more lakes. Each one had its own charm as it was nestled in by granite walls. We were at roughly 9,000 ft elevation and there was still some snow near the peaks. I really enjoyed this exploration. We covered over four miles and did some very easy off-trail.

We returned to camp around 11am and finished tearing down camp. From there our group started the hike out. After we got back to the Ten Lakes Pass, Chumley, Larry and I dropped our packs and separated our bear canisters and then walked the mile plus to Grant Lakes. There was an upper lake but Larry and I were spent so we turned around while Chumley made a quick trip to the upper lake. The rest of the hike out was uneventful. We all met back up at the trailhead and then packed up and started the drive home.

I really enjoyed the Ten Lakes area. These lakes are stunning as they are surrounded by granite. This might have been my favorite part of the trip!

Thanks Chumley for putting all of this together and for doing 95% of the driving! It was a great group and Yosemite only gets better with each return visit. I’m already thinking about next summer! The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River is calling.
Ten Lakes - Yosemite
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Yosemite - Ten Lakes
This was the second backpack in Chumley's Yosemite adventure. It was nice to do some trails that nobody in the group had done before and this one did not disappoint. The hike in is nice but it really opens up once you hit the top of the pass above the switchbacks. The views are amazing-- granite mountains, canyons, and lakes. We headed down and Chumley found us a killer campsite on the far side of the closest lake away from the other backpackers.

We made camp, dinner, and had some beers. In the morning Chumley, 9L, and I went to go do some exploring. We headed up some use trails to check out some of the higher lakes and then off-trail cross country to check out a further one. They're all spectacular and surrounded by cascades and creeks. This area is absolutely phenomenal.

We returned to camp for a short rest and everyone packed up and headed out. Larry, Chumley, and 9L hit Grant Lakes on the way back. I rolled my ankle really badly the week before on a night hike and that foot was getting pretty sore after that many days of hiking in a row so I opted out and headed to the trailhead with Liz and Claire. It was a really nice hike back and beer was waiting for us in a bear box at the trailhead.

Thanks to Chumley for organizing this and inviting me along. I can't imagine having a greater week with a nicer crew :D

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
The Ten Lakes trailhead is located across the street from the Yosemite Creek trailhead. It is on the Tioga Road (CA-120) 19.5 miles west of the Tuolumne Meadow campground, and 19.7 miles east of the Crane Flat gas station. From Yosemite Valley the 35-mile trip takes about an hour. (Restrooms and bear boxes are available at the TH.)
page created by chumley on Aug 12 2014 9:18 am
help comment issue

end of page marker