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.

Pack List

  • 10 Essentials
  • Good hiking boots
  • Plenty of water (little on the trail especially towards the end)
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
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RT Distance 14.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1775 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Simply amazing

Added a Cloud's Rest detour to our high sierra backpacking loop this summer, and it was easily one of the best days on trail! I couldn't wait for the view at the summit, but the actual hike is simply gorgeous as well! Of course, the views from the top were just amazing. Seeing Half Dome from a unique angle, catching a glimpse of Tenaya Lake in the distance, looking at the mountains we had been hiking through from way above. Just incredible. There are lots of camping spots once you get above the treeline. We camped about 3/4 mile south of the summit in a huge flat spot off the trail - and were even blessed with a black bear sighting the next morning. Couldn't recommend this more as a day hike or backpack.

Best View in the Park

Clouds Rest is definitely one of my favorite views in the park. I hiked to it's summit as part of a 21 mile day from Tenaya Lake to the Valley (https://www.theoutbound.com/yosemite/hiking/114893).

Worth the push

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.


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