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Mariposa County, California

Backpack Sunrise Lakes to Clouds Rest

15.5 Miles Total - 1775 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Nathaniel Polta

Enjoy spectacular panoramic views including Yosemite Valley and Little Yosemite Valley from Clouds Rest. Make this an overnight with a scenic stay Sunrise Lakes.

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. This allows you to break up the hike, spend a night relaxing and help you have an early start back on the trail.

Once re-connected to the Clouds Rest trail you begin a brief descent before you come across the only lake on the CR Trail. You do have to hop across some trickles and streams along the duration of the hike as well.

The second checkpoint has no sign pointing to Clouds Rest, but helpful hikers have created a rock CR that usually has an arrow pointing to the right. Follow that until you clear the treeline and can really take in the views.

The final trail sign is at the base of the scramble which last the final 10 minutes of your ascent to the summit. From the summit you can see the evidence of the aptly named, Little Valley Fire. Half Dome and the valley comprise the other view that stretches to the horizon.

If you decide to continue on towards Little Yosemite Valley you are back in the land of opportunity and can try and get to the top of Half Dome, or spend some time at Merced Lake. Make sure you brings lots of water for this because if you are a superhuman and choose to continue hiking you're going to be putting in a seriously long and grueling day. The other option is to turn and follow the trail back out to the Tenaya Lake trail head which would take 2-3 hours.

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Overall rating: 

My mates and I did this back in July! What a great experience! We actually started in Tuolumne Meadows on the John Muir Trail. The first night we stopped at Cathedral Lake and didn't quite make it to Sunrise Lakes the first day. We stopped to setup camp in a meadow that had fire circles set up by previous backpackers. I think it was about 3 miles before reaching Sunrise Lakes. The next day we set off to Sunrise Lakes and it was absolutely amazing! The water was cold, but a much needed refreshment. Most of this hike is up hill and with elevation gain, so we definitely took a slower pace. We set up camp right before the big incline to Clouds Rest. The third day we set out to Clouds Rest. The incline to Clouds Rest is not long at all, but it was tough for me (this was my first multi day backpacking trip). The view from the top is so stunning and definitely worth all the sweat in my eyes. We continued on to Little Yosemite Valley from Clouds Rest. There weren't many hikers on the trail to Clouds Rest, but once we got to Clouds Rest there were quite a few day hikers coming from Little Yosemite Valley. One the way down to Little Yosemite Valley, we saw a lot of day hikers going to Half Dome. Definitely recommend mosquito repellent on this hike and/or a mosquito net. Stay hydrated since you sweat a lot and are breathing heavier at the higher elevation. We had lots of Shot Bloks to replenish electrolytes and energy.

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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