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Clouds Rest via Tenaya Lake

Mariposa County, California

5.0/5
based on 12 reviews

Details

Distance

14.5 miles

Elevation Gain

1775 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Addison Klinke

Enjoy incredible panoramic views of Yosemite Valley. This hike is far less crowded than Half Dome and doesn't require permits for day hiking.

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 trailhead will save you crowds on the trail and the trouble of driving into the congested Yosemite Valley and fighting for parking spaces.

At the start, the trail climbs quickly through the High Sierra, passing pine trees and monstrous white granite boulders along the way. Eventually, you will reach a plateau slightly before the turnoff to Sunrise Lakes. This gradual terrain continues until the final 2 miles when the real climbing starts. At this point you will be going up the backbone of Clouds Rest. The trail does become quite exposed towards the top, but is still wide enough to be comfortable (unless you have an extreme fear of heights).

At the top, you will be looking SE into Yosemite Valley with stunning views of Half Dome all the way out to El Capitan in the distance. Not to mention the views back towards Tuolumne Meadows aren't too shabby either. You'll definitely want to stay on the summit a while to soak in the panorama, so get an early start on this hike and bring plenty of sunscreen because there's no shade once you're up on top.

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Features

Hiking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

It's amazing how accessible Cloud's Rest is. One of the most stunning sights in California is a day hike away from the trailhead at Tioga Pass. It's a tough uphill route, particularly between Tenaya Lake and the crossroads to Sunrise Lake, but absolutely worth the push. Bring water and lunch. Stay for sunrise or sunset if you can.

This is my #1 recommended day hike for visitors who are denied Half Dome cable permits. It's a similar difficulty level, perhaps even easier because there's less elevation gain. It's a spectacular view, made even better with a view of Half Dome's backside! Watch out for the persistent chipmunks at the top. Early morning or later evening makes this hike way less crowded. Typically the trail will have snow until May, so be prepared with spikes or poles if traveling in spring.

We left the trail head at 1 am and hiked beneath the stars, with our head lamps, to Clouds Rest for sunrise. The view of Orion at sunrise is amazing. ūüíę

Leave No Trace

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

Nearby

Clouds Rest to Half Dome

Half Dome & Clouds Rest Loop

Sunrise Lakes to Clouds Rest

Explore Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP

Climb Hermaphrodite Flake to Boltway in Yosemite National Park

Hike to Tuolumne Peak Plateau