Backpack to Nelson Lake

17 Miles Round Trip - 1000 ft gain - Loop Trail

Elizabeth Lake Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Emily Noyd

Legendary off-trail backpacking in Yosemite without the crowds. Best kept secret for getting a permit in Tuolumne even during the busy season.

Head to any Yosemite wilderness station for a map, bear canister, and permit for Nelson Lake. The trail itself starts in the Tuolumne Campground at Elizabeth Lake trailhead. Follow the trail 2.2 miles up to Elizabeth Lake and remember the lake itself is in a no-camping zone, so you must continue before setting up camp. 

Continue off trail following Unicorn Creek south to a small pass between Johnson Peak and Cockscomb. Stay low and descend southwest along Echo Creek. After approximately 3 miles, veer east and uphill towards Nelson Lake. Sometimes there's cairns marking the path, but a map and navigation skills are crucial.

Nelson Lake is a beautiful spot to camp, with Rafferty Peak looming to the east. To continue the loop, follow the drainage north and northeast to Reymann Lake. Directly east of Reymann is a small pass between Rafferty Peak and Johnson Peak. Ascend for about a mile, then descend towards Rafferty Creek trail on the eastern side of the pass. Once you hit the well-worn trail, it's approximately 4 miles north to the junction with the JMT and an additional 2 easy miles back to the car.

Tags

Chillin
Camping
Fishing
Photography
Swimming
Backpacking
Hiking
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Swimming Hole

Details

17 Miles
1000 ft elevation gain
Loop Trail

Stay Nearby

Wawona, California

Tuolumne Meadows

Tioga Rd, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA 95389, USA

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

From $143/night

Lee Vining, California

Trailhead Group

Bridgeport, California

Trumbull Lake

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