Clouds Rest Trail from Tenaya Lake

HARD 267 reviews
#9 of 208 trails in

Clouds Rest Trail from Tenaya Lake is a 12.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mariposa, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
12.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,113 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

no dogs

The best place to enjoy the view of Half Dome from the top. Cloud's Rest, a massive granite formation just northeast of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, is famous for its very high degree of visual prominence in the valley as well as its razor-sharp ridge near the summit. For people who have hiked Cloud's Rest, they are most impressed with the thrilling feeling they have while scrambling up the narrow ridge, with sheer drop-offs on both sides, to the summit. The fastest way to day hike Cloud's Rest starts from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead on Tioga Road near Tenaya Lake. From the trailhead, you start the hike by following the trail markers for Sunrise H.S.C. After the first 1.5 mile hike on the relatively flat trail, you begin to climb up the lower slope below Sunrise Mountain. The switchbacks on the slope will surely pound your heart as you are gaining 1,000 feet in elevation in just one mile before reaching the top of the slope. On the top, you immediately encounter the Y junction for either Cloud's Rest or Sunrise Lakes. Bear right for Cloud's Rest and begin to follow the trail markers for it from now on. The trail beyond the junction (called Forsyth Trail) descends sharply for 0.5 miles until you reach the flat land below Sunrise Mountain. The trail on the land is about 1.7 miles long and traverses beautiful woods and a nice lake before you encounter the next junction. Bear right at the T junction for Cloud's Rest and you are about 1.5 miles away from it (though the marker says 2.5 miles). Since you're approaching Cloud's Rest from its back, you only begin to see it after passing the junction. Keep hiking up on the trail until you encounter the marker for Cloud's Rest Foot Trail. Use extreme caution beyond this point as the passway on the top of Cloud's Rest is narrow and both sides are sheer drip-offs. You can enjoy the spectacular views of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon and surrounding mountains after a short scramble to the summit where you can find a geology mark on it. Take the same way back to the Sunrise Lakes trailhead once you're ready to return.

backpacking
1 day ago

Hiking to the top of Clouds Rest if you’re afraid of heights can be prohibitive, but if you’re willing to push past your fear, the views are phenomenal!

hiking
2 days ago

I started the trail at Tenaya Lake (AKA Sunrise Lakes trailhead) and thought to myself "wow this trail has it all!" Beautiful meadows, small stream crossings, lakes, wildflowers galore, steep switchbacks that seem like they go on for days, sparking granite (because you came to Yosemite to see granite, DUH!), thrills, and most important, views for days!! This hike seems really daunting, but it's actually not that bad. Yes, it has some steep climbing sections, but a lot of downs and flat areas to rest up in between. The first two miles are probably the hardest part of the entire trail, so if you can do that section then you can surely finish! It does get a little rough towards the approach on the spine, but take as many breaks as you need as this isn't a race. I thought the spine was a little over-hyped, but I've been told I have an unhealthy obsession with heights...Be sure to keep an eye on Tenaya Lake as you ascend to keep track of how far you've come! Be sure to make plenty of time to rest up at the top, because you'll need some extra energy for the long trek down, remember those downs I mentioned earlier? Anyways, bring plenty of food and water, this is a longer hike. I did this hike yesterday, (6/14/18) and the Tenaya Lake crossing was completely manageable in my regular hiking boots. However, this is not always the case...

6 days ago

Epic

6 days ago

Amazing hike! Very strenuous but worth it for the views!! The 1000ft elevation gain at the start was by far the hardest part of the trail. I had no problem with last scramble up to the top of Clouds Rest. I would recommend trekking poles for a good portion of the hike though. And mosquitos are going to be a pain! Bring a good amount of water! I had 3liters and had no problem.

7 days ago

A testing clime, rewarded by out of this world views. Will walk again!

hiking
11 days ago

Great trail. Did this one about a year ago before finding AllTrails. The incline at the beginning isn’t too bad and it gets easier from there since it flattens out a lot. Amazing panoramic view at the end.

hiking
13 days ago

This was a great day hike that winded me. Great trail but very strenuous compared to the Half Dome hike with cables. The view was amazing and felt very accomplished after the hike. Total hike was over 14 miles with lots of flowers and even snow on June 26 in one spot. We also drank over 4 liters of water per person. There was my wife and I, and my son and his wife. Just hike it, it’s worth the effort.

backpacking
14 days ago

This trail was challenging (1k elevation in 1mile!), and worth every step! The views from the top of Clouds Rest are incredible and it feels like you’re in the center of the whole park. Best views in Yosemite, hands down!

hiking
15 days ago

Hike itself was harder than that going up to Half Dome but the final approach to the destination is far, far less scary here. Started at 7:45 a.m. on 6/30. I would not start later than this due to heat though I saw many people going up in the early afternoon. Wore a permethrin-treated long sleeve top and pants and applied picaridin on exposed skin because I have terrible reactions to mosquito bites. I got none but saw many other hikers with them so mosquitoes must be around though they left me alone. Water crossings easily accomplished by rock hopping, no need for waterproof footwear. Streams with drinking water (after filtering) were still flowing but I would not count on them after mid-July. View on top was lovely though I personally prefer Half Dome view. Total hike time was 7.5 hours with half hour at the top.

16 days ago

Started at Tenaya Lake, camped at Sunrise then headed to Clouds Rest, camped in Little Yosemite Valley, Half Dome the next morning, then back to the Valley. Best trips to date! If you have the time, commit to a two day backpacking trip!

hiking
16 days ago

Great out and back with AH-MAZ-ZING views from the top.

hiking
21 days ago

Fairly easy hike. Views are phenomenal

hiking
21 days ago

Cooler weather with a late afternoon start, lots of people heading downhill back to their cars. Can definitley feel the elevation on the 1+ mile of uphill switchbacks; views from the top were amazing-Half Dome, Vogelsang, 360 degrees of beauty!...a little hazy over the Valley (looking into the evening sun) the “ridge” to the top isn’t difficult and definitely not scary-just beautiful scenery; the short section uphill on the way back and the switchbacks down in fading light were the most difficult parts of the hike; last 1+ mile was with the headlamp on but the trail in that forested section is realtively clear and open.

From Sunrise TH: 2.5 hrs to Clouds Rest and 5.5 hrs total roundtrip with about 20 minutes at top to take pics and enjoy the views-i didnt really stop otherwise, except to put on a pullover and DEET on the way down b/c of attacking mosquitos!
The mileage markers on the trail are a bit off compared to what i got on 3 different aps i was running-its about 4.7 miles to the last trail split (looking back, the sign says 5.4, back to Tenaya Lake tho) and 2.5 to Clouds Rest (it’s about 1.7)

hiking
22 days ago

Wonderful hike! The lake crossings had very less run off water, could walk on the rocks placed without getting the shoes wet. There are so many mosquitoes all along the way. The first set of switchbacks are the hardest part of the hike, mainly because of the elevation, making it hard to catch your breath. The ridge was scary, but if you take it slow and not look at the steep drop, it is manageable. Total hike time was around 8 hours, starting early would definitely help as it got very hot as the day progressed. The views at the top are Amazing!!

hiking
27 days ago

On 6/16 I started walking at 8ish. The rock hop to cross Tenaya Creek was under 6" of water on a few steps, so I was relieved I had wool socks on. Next mile or so of trail meanders along the creek and through covered forest and small creeks bordered with Indian Paintbrush and Lupine. The first major climb is about 1K', with many rocky step-like sections, with a soundtrack of Sooty Grouse whoop calls, and pretty views back towards Olmstead Point and Tuolumne Peak. After gaining a ridge that shares the Sunrise Lakes spur, the trail does several mellow up and downs, along streams and a small buggy lake, mostly under cover of Lodgepole Pine forest. The final mile is a 1K' climb via steep exposed (to sun) trail and finally along a dull, 10'-20' wide arête on the last section. Jaw dropping views from the top. Interesting mix of people from all over throughout the hike (probably around 100 passed on the entire hike). Got back to the trailhead 2:30.

29 days ago

Started around 7 am on 6/14.... what an absolutely amazing hike. Tenaya Creek was about ankle high and the water felt amazing. The switchbacks were pretty tough, but what made it worse was the massive amount of mosquitoes at higher elevation because of the recent snowmelt. Lots of water of water coming down the middle of the trail at some points, with a few random snow patches you have to walk over. After about 1000 ft of elevation gain, you immediately descend into a beautiful area of the trail, with streams, boulders and lakes. The last ascent towards Clouds Rest was pretty difficult. I had to stop once because of the altitude but an amazingly generous group from Indiana helped me and an experienced hiker gave me some much needed water, sweets and electrolytes. The summit is a short scramble, but my goodness, the view was absolutely spectacular. Full 360 degree views of Yosemite, Half Dome, North Dome, Mt Watkins, Glacier Point, and the majority of the valley. This is must do hike, something I will never forget. Total time was 8.15 hours with a few stops.

hiking
1 month ago

A fantastic substitute if you couldn’t get a Half Dome permit. I actually did the hike last September, just forgot to leave a review. It’s more like 15 miles total, but the view of the Upper Sierras is worth every step. The hike itself doesn’t offer a lot of scenic views, so don’t be afraid to head straight for the summit. It took about 4 hours up and 3.5 hours down. The ridge near the summit is pretty narrow, so anyone with height issues should take it nice and slow. And make sure to leave some time for Tenaya Lake too!

1 month ago

*****7.5 miles each way from Tenaya Lake!!!

-15 miles...yes, 15 miles round trip with 3,200 foot elevation gain in 7 hours and 28 minutes!!!! Yeah, I'm fast

hiking
1 month ago

Don’t forget to bring a mosquito spray! Swarms of mosquitoes followed us all the way up (first weekend in June). I’ll give the trail 4 stars only because the hike itself is not scenic, hard and sometimes even boring.
But 360 degrees view from the peak is breathtaking and worth hiking for sure!

hiking
1 month ago

Either remove shoes/socks to cross the stream within the first 500 feet of the Trailhead, or hike in wet socks/shoes till they dry (like I did!) Patches of Trail is covered with snow. In addition to the downloaded AllTrails map, the PeakFinder App helped in identifying all the surrounding peaks from Clouds Rest Summit. I came across a deer and some marmots along the way, and a couple of striped squirrels on the Summit. Breathtaking view of Sierra Nevada range at the top!

1 month ago

From Cloud Rest great views of Yosemite and the Valley. Looking down at Half Dome and El Capitan from the top. The river crossing out of the parking lot was running high (gators and water proof boots helped). Recommend downloading the Map as the trail after about 2.5 miles goes up thru numerous streams and some snow that blot out the trail. Seemingly lost Zombie backpackers and walkers needed guidance on our way up this part and when we got down. The hike is closer to 13.5 miles.

hiking
2 months ago

Looking for a big Yosemite hike but can’t get permits for Half Dome? CLOUDS REST might be your solution. I’ve hiked this one 5 times. Plan for 7-8 hour trip (3-3 1/2 up and maybe about 15 min less on the way down). We usually stay at the top for 45 min or so to eat lunch, relax and take in the views. Best time to do it would be July-October. If this seems like too big of a trip, but you still want to do a backcountry hike in Yosemite, consider NORTH DOME. It’s about 5 miles shorter. I actually prefer the views despite being at a lower elevation.

hiking
4 months ago

Did this in July 2013. Beware of afternoon thunderstorms. Went up about 8am. We started back down about 1100 am with wispy clouds rolling in. Quickly became threatening. Raced down to reach our car as storms began.

So worth the work. Awesome views at the top. Narrow pass at the top but doable..

hiking
5 months ago

One of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. I’m terrified of heights so the last bit was rough but worth it.

hiking
6 months ago

Out and back in 7hrs. Started off Tioga road, Sunrise Trail head. Hike is actually around 16 miles there and back. Great hike, incredible views from top. Some nice scenery throughout the hike.

7 months ago

Couldn't hike this trail. Roads are closed to tioga pass. Sign said closed Oct 15. So I hiked the mist trail hoping to get there by trail junction but the trail to clouds rest was closed from there too I'll try again next year.

8 months ago

Amazing view from the top. Well worth the hike. Less traveled than most hikes in the park. Walking back in the dark with flashlights was doable.

trail running
8 months ago

It showed as 13 miles and 3200’ on my tracker. I’m ok with that. It was challenging, and spectacular!

hiking
8 months ago

Did this hike when I worked in Yosemite a few years ago. Great gorgeous peaceful hike. You start at the lake and u cross a little stream and a mile or so is pretty much flat then for a mile or so u ascend up switchbacks which seemed forever but really wasn’t then go back down the other side where it’s flat again for a while u pass a little pond/lake (nice stream right before it for some good water) then u start ascending again. U get to a junction where u can go to high Sierra camp or continue to clouds rest. Junction is a great place to rest or camp. A little more ascending which is a little difficult because it’s good elevation while ur hiking up to higher elevation. Eventually u will see the rocks where u scramble and get great views all the way to the top which might be the best view in all the park. Camped on top of clouds rest that night and u could see tioga road with cars on it and a town far far in the distance

hiking
8 months ago

Went Oct 28th. Lots of switchbacks. The first ascend and the last ascend is the hardest in my opinion. It’s a challenging hike but with the right energy and mindset completely doable. I had plenty of Tylenol and carbs with me. I was also on the first day of menstrual cycle. Got about 6 hours of sleep. If I can do it so can you! Started at 11am. Got back to the trailhead at 830pm since we took our time.

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