When Yosemite feels too busy, this hike provides some much needed solitude, heather meadows, and surprisingly accessible views of the High Sierra. Camp overnight at the base of Tuolumne Peak or incorporate this route into a longer one-way trip to Ten Lakes.

The most direct route begins at Murphy Creek trailhead, on the north side of Tioga Road near Tenaya Lake. Walk north on Murphy Creek trail for 2.5 miles with minimal elevation gain. Polly Dome Lakes are a great side trip via the social trail on the right side of the trail before the first junction. (Camping there is allowed, with a wilderness permit.) The trail continues to Glen Aulin, but turn left at the junction towards Ten Lakes/May Lake. After only 0.4 miles, turn right at the next junction towards Ten Lakes.

From there, the trail lopes up gentle switchbacks on the forested east facing slope. The plateau is distinct: you'll top out after about 2.5 miles. It's a beautiful island of rock with sweeping northward views at the base of Tuolumne Peak... Which is oddly unimpressive from this angle despite standing at 10,845 ft. Luckily the surrounding peaks don't disappoint. Camping is permissible up here with a wilderness permit, but please no campfires because the elevation is above 9,600. It can be tough to find spots 100 ft from water or trail, but worth the effort for tucked away camping that doesn't disturb the fragile meadows. 

By descending the west side of the plateau to the South Fork of Cathedral Creek, the trip can continue to Ten Lakes Basin for a second or third night. Catch a shuttle or hitchhike back to the car at Murphy Creek. Otherwise, turn around after enjoying the plateau and exit via the same trail.

Pack List

  • Ten essentials
  • Sun protection: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
  • Water treatment (or at least 3 liters per person)
  • Hiking poles
  • Camera

If staying overnight:

  • Tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag
  • Bear canister
  • Wilderness permit
  • Stove and fuel
Show More
RT Distance 12 Miles
Elevation Gain 1800 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

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

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Explore Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP

Tenaya Lake is located alongside Tioga Road in the park's Tuolumne Meadows region. There is a family-friendly trail that surrounds the lake.

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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.

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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.

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