Hike the Half Dome & Clouds Rest Loop

Rate this Adventure 26 miles 7000 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Tyler Swoboda

Take on this epic all day hike to the summit of Yosemite Valley's two most iconic peaks. No overnight gear or shuttle necessary, just a light daypack and a fresh set of legs!

Start and end this loop from the Sunrise Lakes TH along the Tioga Road, and in between you'll travel over 26 miles through Yosemite's backcountry gaining and losing over 7,000 feet in elevation.

Unlike typical mountain summit hikes where it's climb climb climb to the top and then descend, this will be a day of constant up and down switching from ascent to descent.  The trail starts at 8,150' and the summits "only" top out at 9,926' (Clouds Rest) and 8,839' (Half Dome), but twice you'll fall to below 7,000' on the JMT between the peaks.

Get an early start and drive the Tioga Road to the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead in the dark, trying to arrive before sunrise. From the trailhead, hike seven miles up the Clouds Rest Trail first thing in the morning for the most awe inspiring summit view I have ever experienced.  After taking hundreds of pictures on Clouds Rest, hike four miles down to the JMT where you will soon take the Half Dome Trail 2.5 miles up to the base of the cables.  Head up the cables to check that amazing experience off the bucket list!  Take some time to relax and refuel on the Half Dome summit while basking in the beauty of this spot and what you have just accomplished.  From here it's a two mile descent back to the JMT before seven miles of moderate climbing and flat trail through burn areas of the JMT and Forsyth Trail.  Once you reach the junction of the Sunrise Lakes Trail, the climbing is finally over and it's less than three miles downhill back to your vehicle.

If you make it back before dark, don't linger too long at the trailhead.  Drive just a couple miles north or south to enjoy the sunset at either Olmsted Point or Tenaya Lake, two of the most beautiful spots along the Tioga Road.

Make sure you do your homework before heading out on this adventure. A permit is required to go up the cables at Half Dome.

Read More




Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Wawona, California

Tuolumne Meadows

Overview Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located in breathtaking Yosemite National Park in Central California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain Range at an elevation of 8,600 feet. The site is situa...


Tuolumne Meadows Lodge

Free ranger-led campfire programs and guided hikes are offered daily for Tuolumne Meadows Lodge guests. Breakfast and dinner service are available.

From $143/night

Yosemite Valley, California

The Ahwahnee

The Ahwahnee offers a gift shop with a focus on local artisans, a decadent sweet shop, a comfortable bar and a heated outdoor swimming pool. The Ahwahnee Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch, dinner...

From $386/night

Upper Pines Campground, California

Upper Pines

Overview Upper Pines Campground is located in breathtaking Yosemite National Park in Central California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain Range at an elevation of 4,000 feet. The site is situated in ...

From $26/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike Clouds Rest to Half Dome

    Because this is not a loop, you will need to figure out a shuttle situation.  There are two options for this:1. Drive your car to the Tenaya Lake Trail Head, and leave it parked there.  Once you reach the Valley you will be car-less, but then the ...

    21 miles 4000 ft gain

  • Backpack Sunrise Lakes to Clouds Rest

    Start out at the Tenaya Lake Trailhead, where you can head directly onto the trail for Clouds Rest or you can branch off after 2.7 miles to Sunrise Lakes. This allows you to break up the hike, spend a night relaxing and help you have an early star...

    15.5 miles 1775 ft gain

  • Hike Clouds Rest

    The "younger" brother of the world famous Half Dome, Clouds Rest is in fact a solid 1,000 feet taller despite receiving significantly less attention. If you know about this hidden gem however, you're in luck. Starting out from the Tenaya Lake tr...

    14.5 miles 1775 ft gain

  • Climb Hermaphrodite Flake to Boltway in Yosemite National Park

    This is a great 5.7/5.8 linkup for anyone looking for an intermediate climb in Tuolumne. Always read through beta on Mountain Project and Super Topo and having the book on hand is always a good idea. To find the route, this photo is super helpful....