Backpack 10 Lakes Basin in Yosemite

Yosemite Ten Lakes Trailhead

Added by Kyle Frost

  • A great short backpacking trip
  • Incredible lake camping and views of the high sierra
  • 13.8-mile out-and-back hike with 2200' elevation gain

Beginning at the Ten Lakes trailhead, the trail to the lakes is a moderately strenuous uphill grind to Ten Lakes pass, followed by a quick downhill into the lake basin. We met a woman at the top who made sure we didn’t miss the short side trail to a vista point on the pass that offered a sweeping panorama of the basin and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne just to the north.

The official Ten Lakes trail passes by two of the largest lakes, but we opted to ditch the trail and head for another lake we saw from the pass. Definitely the right decision. After wandering through the basin and along lakeshores for a bit, we stumbled across a perfect campsite at the far end of one of the lake, with a perfect setup for swimming, and more importantly, a sublime spot for my hammock. Our afternoon was spent relaxing in the sun with a couple of beers, and punctuated by jumps into the freezing water.

If you're an early riser, I recommend heading back up to the top of Ten Lakes pass or scrambling up a ridgeline to catch sunrise!

Pack List

  • 10 Essentials
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Water filter
  • Camera
  • Bear can
  • Camp stove
  • Change of clothes (for swimming!)
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Activities:

Backpacking, Hiking, Photography, Swimming

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

13.8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2200 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Forest
Lake
River
Scenic

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How to Get There

28 days ago

perfect last-minute weekend trip

My first solo trip, at the end of September. I drove out to Yosemite on a Thursday evening, camped just outside of the park that night, and then on Friday morning at 8am I went to get a (free) wilderness permit for Ten Lakes- there were plenty of permits left. I originally planned to do a thru-hike but when I got into Ten Lakes basin, I knew I wasn't going to leave the second night. I had an entire lake to myself, and spent all of the next day exploring the other lakes in the basin. There are some absolutely spectacular campsites at these lakes- just walk around the perimeter of them and you will find so many! On my way out, I stopped at Grant Lakes...unreal!! I was the only one there and felt like I was in a magical and enchanted fairy tale. So peaceful. I was amazed how easy it was to get here and feel so far away from it all for a couple of days. Highly, highly recommend and plan on doing it again next year.

28 days ago

4 months ago

Great summer backpacking

Ten Lakes is one of my favorite short backpacking trips in Yosemite. Easily attainable High Sierra views and lakes for swimming after a hike up the pass. Campfires are allowed since the area is below 9600' elevation. Awesome spot to score a walk-up wilderness permit when Tuolumne fills up.

4 months ago

Added by Kyle Frost

Designer and Adventure Photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. Fan of mountains, coffee, beer, and witty banter. Available for commissions and collaborations. I'm @kylefrost pretty much everywhere.

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