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Nap with the Clouds at Clouds Rest

Mariposa County, California


Added by Gordon Li

Distance: 14.5 miles roundtripElevation gain: 1,775 ftExhilarating alternative to the renowned Half Dome hikeHike through some of Yosemite's most gorgeous and iconic landscapesWind through pine forests, cross streams, and ascend up granite peaks,Views from Clouds Rest summit at 10,000 feet

Immerse yourself in a breathtaking, 360 degree panoramic view of some of Yosemite's iconic peaks and the Sierra Nevada high country. Starting at 8,150 feet, roundtrip to the summit (9,926 feet) is more than 14.5 miles long with an elevation gain of 1,775 feet each way. During the hike, you will experience and traverse through a diverse collection of ecosystem and natural wonders that makes the region unique.

We had trouble finding where the trail begins and had to ask a ranger. From Yosemite Valley, drive up to Tioga Pass. The trailhead, marked as SUNRISE TRAIL, starts about a mile pass Olmstead Point. If you drove past Tenaya Lake, you've gone too far.

There is plenty of parking, with additional lots closer to Tenaya Lake. However, the trail becomes pretty crowded later in the day so be sure to arrive early! Starting from the parking lot, the first of many river/stream crossing presents itself. Once crossed, you will be greeted with a sign pointing you to Clouds Rest.

The hike itself is strenuous, but otherwise straight forward. It's well known, and there are markers/signs in place every few miles. The first 1/4 are in wooded areas. The most challenging part for me are the series of switchbacks that winds itself up the mountain. After the grueling hike, you'll be rewarded with a nice clearing. Only 5 more miles to go from here!

The next few miles are rather gentle and gradient. If you're lucky, you may spot deer. As you ascend, trees become more sparse, providing much less cover so be sure to apply sunscreen! We learned the hard way :(. The last section of the trail turns into a series of granite boulders. Once you have scrambled your way up, you will be greeted with one of the most majestic view of your life.

To reach Clouds Rest, you will have to cross an arete (mountain ridge). If you're afraid of heights like me... (try not to look down?) I was pretty much trembling the entire time. If I remember correctly, the right side (going towards Clouds Rest) is a sheer drop, while the left side is more of a gradient, rock slide. Either way, it's a bad idea to take a tumble. And there you have it, you're at the top!

Yosemite is famous for having scattered, unpredictable thunderstorms in the summer. I wouldn't advise going if you see clouds in the sky. There are no trees at the top, so the only target for lightning to strike is you.

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Clouds Rest via Tenaya Lake

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