• Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2140 Feet

Lake
Scenic

Mt. Hoffman is the geographic center of Yosemite National Park. Scrambling to the top yields an amazing 360' perspective of Yosemite's peaks. Enjoy mellow May Lake before trekking straight up to Hoffman for the epic views.

The May Lake trailhead is at the end of a 2 mile unpaved road leading north from Tioga Road. The trailhead has pit toilets and bear lockers. (Please be sure to store any food, garbage, scented items, and empty coolers in these lockers while hiking!)

After hiking an easy 1.3 miles, you'll arrive at May Lake, nestled at the base of Mt. Hoffman and the site of a seasonal High Sierra Camp. There's space for backpackers as well, with bear lockers and a pit toilet. Don't forget to pick up your backcountry permit at any Wilderness permit station, the day of your trip or the day before at 11 am. Please remember there's no swimming in May Lake, but with Mt. Hoffman looming above, it's a beautiful spot for sunrise and sunset.

Onward to the top of Hoffman! Skirt the lake heading west, before following the social trail to climber's left. In early summer there may still be patches of snow in this area. The trail follows sparse trees and meadows before climbing up the granite. Cairns may or may not be marking the easiest route, but heading straight up is the goal. Find yourself on a small saddle between two summits. A radio repeater is to the west, and a scramble to the eastern peak gives views of May Lake, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne, the Cathedral and Clark Ranges, Cloud's Rest, and Half Dome. 

Pack List

Day trip:

  • Water (at least 2 liters per person)
  • Tennis shoes
  • Sun protection
  • 10 Essentials
  • Camera

Overnight:

  • Tent or hammock
  • Sleeping bag
  • Stove and fuel
  • Water treatment method
  • Supplies for an epic backcountry meal
  • Bear canister ($5 rental at any Wilderness station) or use the bear lockers
  • Backcountry kayak and fishing pole for May Lake
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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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Emily Noyd

Wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park. Raised by Washington mountains and Puget Sound islands. I live for sunrise, backcountry cooking, climbing, roadtrips, and coffee.

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