Take an incredibly scenic hike to Young Lakes in the backcountry of Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite. Some of the best campsites in Yosemite can be found here.

The Young Lakes trail starts from the Lembert Dome parking area and then winds up around 6 miles into the high country past alpine meadows and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Lower and Middle Young Lakes are beautiful, but you're going to want to push on to Upper Young Lake, where you'll find the best views of the lot. One of my favorite campsites can be found here, but you'll have to explore around to find it :) In the summer, a jump in an alpine lake is just what you need after a long day of hiking.

Enjoy the fantastic sunset, stars, and sunrise over Ragged Peak, Mount Conness, and the rest of Tuolumne!

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Water
  • Bear can
  • Food
  • Warm clothes
  • 10 essentials
  • Water filter
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RT Distance 12 Miles
Elevation Gain 1700 Feet
Activities Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Worth taking the time to get to the upper lake!

We went up via Glen Aulin TH with the intention of coming back via Dog Lake for an overnight trip. The hike in was a little rough in the middle of the day (mostly exposed), but not super steep at any point. We got to the first lake and there were a bunch of people already camped around the lake, so even though we were exhausted, we decided to continue hiking up to the upper lake to camp for one night. Well worth it!! Even on a busy Saturday night in August, there were only 2 other solo backpackers sleeping at this lake. Absolutely stunning sunset and beautiful sunrise. My partner and I went with his dad, who had never backpacked before. It was not an easy trip for him, but definitely doable for first-timers. There was no other water other than what was at the lakes, so if you are going any later than early August, be sure to hike with enough water both ways!

Make sure to acclimate

Ascend via Glen Aulin, descend via Dog Lake. Altitude sickness struck me hard but I finished the trip with really good photos that worth my effort. Thank you author for this trail info.

Long Day Hike

I recently did this hike as a day hike. Instead of out and back, I opted for the loop. The loop starts at Lembert Dome, and continues to Young lakes. The (3rd lake) was my favorite, and yes, it was steep getting to! After a long lunch, we headed back down and stayed straight toward the PCT/Soda springs. Nice to have a change of scenery on the way back, but it adds on 3 extra miles making the total trip approximately 15 miles.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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