Clouds Rest Trail from Tenaya Lake

HARD 284 reviews
#9 of 214 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

lake

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.

1 hour ago

How much water should I carry? For anyone having gone recently, I have a water filter, are there streams, etc to get water along the way (and therefore carry less)? I’m planning on going 8/26

3 days ago

Beautiful hike. The switchbacks are devastating. Take your time, hydrate, snack half way through them. Once you're done with the switchback, it is an easy hike to the top. Coming down the switchbacks is not too fun. Trailhead gets packed. Get there early!

hiking
10 days ago

Just hiked today. Got on trail at 6am, skies were crystal clear. Smoked moved in around 11am. Amazing at the top. Really challenging ups and downs. Sat on the edge of life and death.

Also not 1 mosquito in sight!!

hiking
14 days ago

August 6: to the couple of questions posed; there is no real stream crossing required, the rock path is fully exposed across the Tenaya Lake Egress so no wet feet at all. The park is mostly closed now due to Ferguson Fire. Tioga Pass and road is only open access, but would not recommend any hiking to Cloud's Rest for a while. Bad air quality and really bad views. Check here for latest conditions: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5927/ and Half Dome webcam: https://www.nps.gov/customcf/webcam/dsp_webcam_image.cfm?id=81B464BC-1DD8-B71B-0B0F6F15CBA4A034

hiking
15 days ago

To Anyone who recently hiked this trail, was the stream pretty low at the start of the trail to where your feet don’t get wet?

hiking
20 days ago

Mosquitoes everywhere. Got eaten alive but it was worth it because of the views at the end.

hiking
22 days ago

We did this hike last year and are planning to do it again in two weeks, please report on the smoke, thanks, I appreciate it, and the smoke around Toulemne Meadow, thanks! Love this hike, it has it all, views, granite, meadows, challenges, we did not find it too challenging, take your time and enjoy it.

hiking
22 days ago

Went on July 3rd with a smoky haze in the air from the nearby Ansel Adams Wilderness fire. We started at about 7:30AM and spent a total of about 8.5 hours on the trail, spending about an hour and a half at the top. The hike goes for about a mile and a half through the woods at the start, then becomes vertical for another mile to a ridge and trail intersection with the trail to the High Sierra Camps and Sunrise Lakes. From there the trail descends quite a bit [remember you'll be coming back this way] and flattens out, travels past a small pond and then begins a gradual climb through the forest. Finally we reached Cloud's Rest foot trail over the rocky fin to the top. The fin is plenty wide for anyone, just don't go crazy and you'll be fine. In fact, you'll be so acclimated to the elevation when you leave, you'll think the fin is really wide when you start down. Views of the surrounding Sierras are awesome and because of the fires, nearby peaks were a bit hazy and cast with a yellowish or blue tint. You can continue right up and over the rest area and down towards Half Dome if you want to go to the valley. It's amazing how rock has been chipped off in huge chunks over the years, leaving some cool formations below as you stand near the geodetic marker at the top close to the edge. On the way back, we hit the climb back to the ridge but wasn't as bad as the initial ridge climb. Several campers along the way. Saw some trees that had been hit by lightning and you want to make sure you leave early enough not to encounter T-storms at the top. This is easier than Half Dome. Enjoy, this is a great workout with a great payoff.

hiking
26 days ago

Did this on 6/23. Boy was it incredible! 3,100 feet elevation gain and 7.5 miles each way. Definitely not for the mildly out of shape or the scared of heights. It felt like it was straight uphill for the whole hike. I started at 6:30 AM and that was the perfect time to start. Any later and you'd be walking up in the sun. 6.5 total hours of hiking. By far, best hike I've ever been on! Gorgeous. Harder and better view than Half Dome

hiking
1 month ago

The view from the top of Clouds Rest must be an Earth-top-ten-view.
From the Sunrise Lakes trailhead plan on 7 miles to the peak. No real water sources. Very lightly trafficked trail on a Friday in July. Started at 6:30am, we were at the top by 11. We had 3 liters of water per person (some may want more but our early start gave us shade and sky was overcast in the afternoon) and several candy bars, and we always take Fritos. We have hiked a lot in Yosemite and this is my favorite. I like it better than the hike up Half Dome, though there's some great parts to that hike too. We took our three kids and at the top they all scampered ahead of me, no fear, but I had to take it nice and slow. That last few hundred feet (sheer, sheer drop offs on both sides) are very doable but about the last 15 feet I had to get on all fours and crawl because of the narrowness of the trail and the sheer drop offs on both sides. That part, there is only room for one person at a time, and the people waiting to go down as I crawled across that last fifteen feet all cheered me on. Really spectacular people on this trail. At the top there is plenty of room to relax and take in the views. And you will want to.
(*side note. Though we started at Tenaya lake, from the top we took the trail down to the valley floor. This made our hike almost 18 miles in one day. We thought it would be nice to see Vernal and Nevada falls on the way down but it was too much. Next time I'll definitely just return to Tenaya lake.)

backpacking
1 month 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
1 month 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...

1 month ago

Epic

1 month 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.

1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

1 month 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month ago

Fairly easy hike. Views are phenomenal

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
2 months 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.

2 months 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
2 months 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!

2 months 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
2 months 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
2 months 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!

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