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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Backpacking, Hiking, Photography, Swimming

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



13.8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2200 Feet




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How to Get There

about 1 month 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.

about 1 month 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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