• Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    14.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1775 Feet

Forest
Scenic

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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Reviews

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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.

6 months ago
6 months ago

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).

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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. 💫

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Half Dome get's all of the attention but this trail is highly underrated. We reached the summit on a partly cloudy day and it was amazing to see Half Dome and the tunnel floor when the clouds would clear. Don't skip out on Cloud's Rest if you are headed to Yosemite.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Echoing all that has been said, this is one of the highlight hikes of Yosemite. The views from the summit is truly something...even life changing based on my own experiences. If you are able to do this hike in the Spring (March-April), you will catch the snow peaks in the Sierra Nevada. However, at times the trail can still be covered in snow, so follow the yellow signs marked in trees! Also, the river water tend to be higher in the Spring, so forking the river might be necessary. Take your shoes off and use the stepping stones!

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

The Panoramic views from the summit of clouds rest are some of my favorite in Yosemite. Spectacular views out to the east into the Clark range may be seen on a clear day. One can also spot Tenya Lake to the North. The hike is quite long and strenuous, and will take a full day, but the reward of walking along the Cloud's Rest Summit Ridge makes it all worth it.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

I've been planning a road trip for after college for a while now, and Yosemite was always going to be a stop on that trip. But, this adventure makes me want to go just that much more! Plus, I've honestly never heard of Clouds Rest but now I want to do this just as much as Half Dome. Thank You!

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Some mosquitoes in the summer!! But once you get up there it's a breathtaking view of the whole Yosemite Valley including Half Dome and El Capitan

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Way Better than Half Dome. Having the vantage point down into the valley and half dome as a point of interest leads to excellent photographic opportunities. Love this Hike!

almost 3 years ago
almost 3 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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