Young Lakes Trail Loop is a 17.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Yosemite National Forest, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September.
Loop trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Upper Young Lake and return. This is a classic Sierra Nevada high country trek, complete with subalpine forests, exposed granite outcroppings, and pristine glacial cirque lakes. Start the hike from the Lembert Dome parking lot. Follow the dirt road at the west end of the parking lot past the stables to Parson's Lodge. Just north of the lodge you'll pick up the trail to Glen Aulin. Follow that trail for about a mile, then take the signed trail to the right towards Young Lakes. The trail now climbs steadily, though not too steeply, to the intersection with the Dog Lake trail. Continue straight ahead for another mile and a half to lower Young Lake. If you feel adventurous, follow the unsigned use trail from lower Young Lake past middle Young Lake to the breathtaking upper Young Lake. Be advised, the use trail follows the stream between the middle and upper lakes, and includes a short but very steep section. When you're ready to leave, retrace your steps to the Dog Lake trail and follow it back to the trailhead. Note that there are several uphill sections on this trail, the first one (350 ft climb) being the longest. However, you'll be rewarded with absolutely gorgeous views of alpine meadows and stunning panoramas.
This was my first backpacking experience with my father, and where he taught me to fly fish. That trip our family camped at the lower lake. I have gone back to Young Lakes at least five times, solo, with high school friends, again with my father, with an employee and his son, and with my own son. I prefer camping at the highest lake, with its clear vistas. It really is one of the beautiful spots in Yosemite, and a great starting point for ascending Mt. Conness. You can also make a loop by hiking to Roosevelt Lake, crossing the north pass to Upper McCabe Lake (descent is a bit steep), and picking up the PCT back to Tuolumne, which goes past Tuolumne Falls. Climbing North Peak on the way to Upper McCabe is definitely worth it.
I prefer starting on the trail that goes past Dog Lake. An extra 400 feet of climbing, offset by less mileage. Good water usually at the Dingley Creek Crossing and a beautiful meadow. Great high meadows and superior views of the Cathedral Range when crossing the high shoulder.
I backpack to Young lake, it is a HARD hike. Getting up there was a battle but I'm glad I did it, stay 2 nights and fished. The lake and the surrounding mountain make you feel like you went back in time. For 2 days we didn't see or hear another person, it was us and mother nature and she was beautiful. I've since been back 2x and each time I fall deeper and deeper in love with Yosemite and all it's beauty.
A 7 hour, 14 mile challenging hike but worth every bit of the effort, beautiful meadows, clear streams, breath taking lake surrounded by rugged mountain terrain...