• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    3 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    500 Feet

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic

One of the most scenic hikes in Yosemite National Park with a backdrop of Tioga Road, Clouds Rest and Tenaya Lake.

May Lake is a stunning, serene subalpine lake that rests at the base of Mt. Hoffmann. The May Lake turnoff is located four miles past Tenaya Lake. From the turnoff, it's 1.8 miles to the trailhead parking lot.

During summer time, I will recommend getting to the parking area early to get a spot since this is a very popular hike.

May Lake is one of the five High Sierra Wilderness Camps in Yosemite National Park. If you are lucky enough you can win a lottery to stay in this camp site where you will be served dinner and breakfast. More info http://www.travelyosemite.com/lodging/high-sierra-camps/But don't worry if you did not win the lottery you can always stay at the backpacker campground as well. This is also a great day hike where you can complete it 4-5 hours with a lunch break by May Lake.

May Lake sits beneath 10,845 foot Mt. Hoffman. If you like, you can summit Mt. Hoffman by taking the rugged trail from the north side of the lake. In order to get to the top, you will need to hike for another 2 miles with 1,500 elevation gain along side of sweeping views of Yosemite.

Even thought it is not permitted to swim in the lake, I saw people cliff jumping and taking a dip in the lake.

Pack List

  • If you are planning to stay overnight you will need a backpacker's permit
  • Tent (if you are staying overnight)
  • Sleeping bag (if you are staying overnight)
  • Comfortable hiking shoes
  • Backpack
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Light jacket
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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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We backpacked in to May Lake from Glen Aulin at the end of July, and there was still tons of snow around the lake, on Mount Hoffmann, and half of the lake was still frozen! So beautiful. And we saw a few marmots scurrying around :) This place can get crowded though! There were lots of backpacking groups, I can't even imagine how busy this place would be if the high sierra camps were open! But that's to be expected since its so close to Tioga Road.

6 months ago
6 months ago

I send visitors to May Lake who A) have never backpacked before, and/or B) who want to spend time exploring Yosemite elsewhere and experience a quick backcountry trip. It's a short 1.5 mile hike with about 500 ft of elevation gain. Camping in the backpacker's camp during the summer season is very straightforward: pit toilets, running water, bear lockers, and fire rings. No swimming is allowed in the lake, but you can scramble up to Mt Hoffman if part of your group is feeling energetic, while others lounge with a good book.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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