Clouds Rest Trail from Tenaya Lake

HARD 323 reviews
#8 of 217 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.

hiking
6 days ago

Beautiful. Hard rating is correct. The view is above majestic.

hiking
6 days ago

One of Yosemite's best!. Boring at the beginning, the first 2 hours, but the end is worth it.

hiking
6 days ago

The top of the ridge is a spectacular place. You'll have to walk on a scary narrow path, see the Half Dome in all it's beauty a bit below (probably with the hikers on the cables) and see the great 360 degrees panorama.

Unfortunately, the other 80% of the trail is just a long path closed in a forest, not much to see there.

12 days ago

This hike was long, exhausting, scary, and TOTALLY WORTH IT! The views were amazing! My husband and I are 45, run 3 miles, 3 times a week, and live in a flat, at sea level State. We did it in 7 hours total with hanging around at the top for 20 mins. The key for us was start early, bring 3 liters of water, and keep a nice pace. Also, try not to crap your pants when you climb the last part at the top!
Best hike I have ever done so far!!!

hiking
15 days ago

Amazing hike! Stunning views. Sept 5, 2018: started at 0730 from Tenaya Lake got to the top at 1030. Chilled for an hour; clear skies. Descended at 1130 completed at 1400. Not one mosquito in sight, did not apply any repellent prior. I must say the descending portion was just as brutal if not more then going up.

16 days ago

Only had one day to use towards Yosemite on the east side, so happy I picked this one. Definitely the best views since you can see 360 degrees around. Parking does fill up quickly so arrive early. Signs at trailhead say 7.4 miles to Clouds Rest.

Worth the climb. Be prepared to be amazed!

hiking
18 days ago

From the top of Clouds Rest there are breathtaking 360° views. It's amazing to see Yosemite Valley from this vantage point and the view of Half Dome is unrivaled. It is quite possibly the best view I've ever seen. Definitely a very difficult hike considering the elevation gain and the altitude; for our group it was actually the return hike that was the toughest. Just a few suggestions for potential hikers... bring plenty of water and start early. If you are up for the challenge, the view is totally worth it!

hiking
19 days ago

Really great experience, is hard but very well worth it

22 days ago

Altogether, this trail is about 14.5 miles. The start is nice and flat with gradual gain. Once you get to the bottom of the granite "stairs", the real fun starts. 1,000ft elevation in 1 mile. Then, it starts to flatten out and descend a good bit before coming to somemore elevation gains at the bottom of Cloud's Rest. You can climb the spine at the foot trail, or there's a nice foot path to the left that will lead you up to the spine, just the same. The 360° views are so worth it!! Especially if you're someone like me who is not accustomed to 15 mile day hikes. Going down is just as grueling as going up!

hiking
24 days ago

Amazing view of Half Dome completely worth the climb.

hiking
26 days ago

Started around 7:30 and got to the top around 10:30. It was still clear. There are 3 tough uphill climbs on the way up to the top. After every section though, it flattens out for awhile and allows you to recover. The one tough uphill climb on the way back down was rough too. All in all, a great hike -- would recommend going early to avoid the afternoon crows. Took 3L of water but may have wanted more if I had went in the afternoon or on a hotter day. At a steady pace, it took me about 6 hours up and back + about 30 minutes at the top for a snack and pictures. Great 360 degree views.

hiking
26 days ago

Pretty hazy when we got to the top but still worth the trip.

hiking
1 month ago

Had an awesome trip on 8/18/2018. The smoke had cleared and we had an amazing view of the valley and Half Dome.

1 month 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

1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
2 months 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
2 months 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 months 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...

2 months ago

Epic

2 months 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.

2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months 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.

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