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Half Dome & Clouds Rest Loop

Mariposa County, California



22.7 miles

Elevation Gain

7000 ft

Route Type



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.

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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