Clouds Rest Trail from Yosemite Valley

HARD 90 reviews
#16 of 210 trails in

Clouds Rest Trail from Yosemite Valley is a 18 mile heavily 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.

18.0 miles
6,302 feet
Out & Back




nature trips

trail running




wild flowers



no dogs

Directions from Tuolumne Meadows: Travel westward on Tioga Road approximately 8 miles to the Tenaya Trailhead immediately west of Tenaya Lake.

2 months ago

Hardest hike of my life. We wanted to start at Tenaya Lake (14miles round trip versus 21 miles round trip) but after talking to the rangers there was still 3 miles of snow. So, we started at the Valley floor. Going thru Mist Falls, Vernal Falls and seeing Nevada Falls was amazing. Having an actual restroom near Nevada Falls was very nice. And, then the tough parts started. There is a flat section with sand that splits to the little Yosemite backpackers camping area (I didn’t care for it, as the sand was more work.) after passing the turn off for the camping areas we then started the continual ascend in more wooded areas. This was the area where our newfound friends saw 2 cubs and a momma bear. Once we worked thru the switchbacks where you can get incredible views of Half Dome it felt as we would never get to Clouds Rest (final 1.5 miles or so). That mile after the switchbacks feels never ending. When the trail splits at the base of the summit we took the shorter trail to the summit and then we lost it. Partly because we were already tired, party because it is not obvious. Thankfully, we found it again. Hindsight, I wish we would have taken the walk around (longer) way to the summit. From talking to others it’s about 1/2 a mile versus a 1/4 mile, but actually easier to ascend those last 500feet of elevation. And it seems it is also better marked (or more obvious at least).

My husband is a Stage 4 Cancer over comer as of May 2018 and I tore both knee MCLs in March. We are 37 & 38. We have both been doing lots of rehab and are used to the elevation changes. However, we prepped for 14 miles not 21 miles so we knew we were overly pushing ourselves. We made it to the rock steps and because of the time and already tired feet we didn’t have enough time to climb the last part of the summit. It was amazing to look down onto Half Dome from our incredible view. Peering over the cliff was overwhelming, scary and thrilling all in one. I cried because I wanted to summit, but knew my hubs didn’t have it in him and we were fighting time. We had trained the month of May including hiking over 20miles in 5 days, but this 21+ miles round trip was too much. We met two other groups who said the same. Tough hike, beautiful views. We made it back to the bus stop at 8:50pm when the sun was fully setting.

We don’t regret it at all but whew! It took us from 6:45am to 8:45am. Hindsight, we could have easily started an hour earlier.

A few notes: TAKE AT LEAST 4 liters of water per person. I over packed at almost 6 liters and gave away two 1 liter bottles. One lady ran out of water with 7 miles to go. Another just hadn’t planned on going that far, but I also know of another couple with not enough water on the return. Dehydration is a BIG deal on those long treks! Be smart and be prepared!

From the Valley floor it is highly recommended to go UP Mist Trail and DOWN John Muir. We talked to others and it is not recommended to go down Mist. Plus, this way you get a different view of the falls as well.

My tracker said we walked over 21 miles from the closest parking lot to near summit and back. We climbed over 300 flights of stairs while ascending about 5700 feet (full climb is right at 6,000).

Our goal is to do it again in 2 years when we return. But, we will do it from Lake Tenaya. I would recommend doing this hike at the end of a trip not at the beginning as we were sore and tired.

2 months ago

That's a great hike. Did it along with halfdome, which doesn't add all that much really. It's a big hike, but very well marked and the trail is very clean. If you have the leg for it, you can absolutely do 3 miles/hour on this, except maybe at the very end (but I think it's more than 18 miles, more like 20-21 from the parking).Anyhow, started at 6 AM, finished at 4:30 (including halfdome), so definitely doable in a day hike. Walking a bit further on the ridge is a good experience and I would suggest that. You get a great all around view, including of course halfdome (making doing both on the same day even more rewarding).

3 months ago

My boyfriend and I were told to hike Clouds Rest if nothing else, so we planned for it to be our last of the trip. We did an 8 mile hike the first day, about 13 the second, took a day off trip to Mammoth Lakes then planned to do it the fourth and final day. However, to our surprise despite Tioga Rd being opened that day, the conditions weren't ideal (a lot of snow - possibilities of getting lost). However after much debate we decided to do it...but from the valley floor. We ended up clocking 23 miles round trip from our campsite to the peak. After the first 3 miles moral was low on my end but nevertheless kept trucking until we both got a strong second wind and starting moving at a good clip. The last 1-2 miles of these were probably the toughest for me and the scrambling at the top. More so because I was so anxious to finally get to the peak. However the views and satisfaction of reaching the top were unlike anything I have ever experienced. Until this trip my longest hike was a mere 4-5 miles at best....and here we just hiked up to a 10,000ft peak with 6,000ft elevation gain. It was great and I highly recommend it. On the way down we linked up with a worked in the park and ended up cruising (only stopping ONE time for 11 miles) making our total time around 8:30. We left at about 8:00am...a late start and would recommend a 6-6:30am start if you don't plan on booking it like us. We were probably averaging 18-22 minute miles consistently the whole way. I ran out of water (packed 3 L) on the way down and panicked a little but borrowed some from our new buddy...and probably would have been fine if I didn't get any more in me. I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND THIS HIKE!!!

4 months ago

Tired and happy. Ive been up from Tenaya Lake several times over, but had never made the hike up from the valley. So i strapped my snowshoes to my pack and made the trek. Camped right around the junction of the JMT and Clouds Rest trail, before summiting in the morning. As of yesterday, snowshoes are needed after about 7000ft. Recommend an axe and crampons for the summit. The snow makes everything look magical. Worth every step.

9 months ago

This hike is a BEAST! Lots of incline, and the altitude got to me the last few miles. I would go .2 miles or so and need to stop for a bit and keep going. When I saw the rock at the end I though "oh hell no", but did it anyway and wow. The view is absolutely amazing.

I would recommend not doing this as a day hike. I am in good shape and hike often and it was still very challenging. If you do do it as a day hike though, I would suggest starting at 5:30am or earlier if you want to get down before dark. The camp is about 4/5 miles up the trail (permit needed).

9 months ago

Best hike in Yosemite from the valley

10 months ago

We did a day hike. The trail head states 10.5miles to the top, so the app is wrong stating it is 19miles round trip. Where the trail splits for Half Dome, the sign states 4.3miles to Clouds Rest and from that point on prepare to climb continuously. By far the toughest part of the hike but completely worth the views!

10 months ago

This hike is nothing short of legendary.

Our equipment put this round trip at 22 miles, officially from the parking lot, I believe it is 20.8, but forget the semantics either way this is a hell of a hike.

We started at 6:30am at the trail head parking lot beyond Half Dome Village, summited at 12:30, spent 30 minutes at the top, headed back down at 1:00pm and got back to the car at 5:15pm.

My girlfriend and I chose an early October Sunday which delivered perfect weather for our ascent, I wouldn't recommend much later in the season as even on this day where the valley reached 70 degrees, our 6:30am start was near freezing and the top of Clouds Rest even at midday hovered around 50F but the wind chill up there can be intense.

Anyway to the guts of the hike, overall the hike is difficult, nobody is kidding around here, but it does give you many groovable stretches where you can get in your hiker zone and grind it out, very rarely are there unbearable stretches of steep terrain with the exception of the vernal and Nevada Falls steps and the final couple hundred feet of scrambling before the summit. Vast miles of this hike are simply meandering switchbacks that gracefully stride ever upwards at a manageable clip. This is key. Both of us are in good shape but neither of us does this type of distance or elevation gain regularly, just put one foot in front of the other and groove it out, you'll be fine.

In an odd turn of events I consumed less than a liter of water on the way up, i have no way of explaining this or understanding how I didn't feel thirsty, maybe the elevation? Not sure. either way, we both packed 3L of water and consumed close to all of it by the end of the day, on a hotter day, throw that number out the window, you'll need much more. A water filter would be of great use as there was water next to the trail as high as 7200 feet and 6.2 miles in at high camp where the official Clouds Rest trail branches from the John Muir trail

Overall, the rare views of Half Dome from the east, the valley and the feeling that you are atop the world make this one of the greatest hikes I've ever done.

Training successful, on to Cactus to Clouds next month.

10 months ago

Great hike, great views. Trails are mostly well-marked and easy to follow, but a little tough to find in a few spots near the top (especially if the cairns have been knocked over or what have you). So take a map -- you don't want to get lost without a map 10 miles from Yosemite Valley (like a group I encountered). Tom Harrison Half Dome map is good. Definitely needed the bug spray. I endorse Muir trail to skip the falls on the way down. I left at 7am, which was OK on a fall day, but an earlier start would definitely be advisable in the hotter season or if you don't want to be in a pack of people going up the Mist Trail stairs.

As it was unclear to me until I got a good map and did the hike, there are two trails up to Clouds Rest (as opposed to trails converging before the final bit). The trail up to Clouds Rest from Yosemite Valley reaches the top via stone stairs (steep, but less exposed than the narrow ridge from the other side).

10 months ago

I hiked this trail this morning. I started at 3:30am from the valley. I made it to the top in 4.5 hours. The view is amazing!!! I brought my Jetboil and made breakfast and coffee at the top. I ran back down in 3 hours. I chilled at the top for about an hour. Started at 3:30am and made it back to Housekeeping camp buy 12:30pm.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This trail was 22 miles for us. Difficult but worth it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Long but probably the best hike I've ever done. So worth every step.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Super hard but very awesome views

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Long hike but 100% worth it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The day before hiking Clouds rest from the valley, I spoke with one of the park rangers in Yosemite village who advised heavily against anyone hiking it in a single day. After much internal debate (solo hiker), I decided to hike it anyways.. and wow am I glad I did.

The hike itself is quite challenging as it is 10 miles uphill the whole way to the peak and 10 directly back down. For reference, I tend to do 1 long hike every few months but am in by no means good shape. I also carried 5 liters of water and finished it all of it by the time I got down (I'm 6'3'' so drink more water than most).

I was on the mist trail beginning at 5:30 am and was on the peak by 10:45 with a few stops along the way for snacks. I would suggest leaving while it is dark out as the views of both Vernal and Nevada falls as the sun rises with no one in sight are truly spectacular. Another plus of leaving early is that a majority of the ascent is done in the shade and is much cooler than if you had waited a few hours. The final four miles where you split from the Half Dome route is the most challenging part of the hike as it is a steep incline until you reach the top. However, if you can make it to that fork, you should be able to reach the top. After a little over an hour at the summit, I headed back and returned to the valley right after 3pm taking the JMT to avoid the Mist trail traffic on a holiday weekend. Total distance ended up being 22.5 miles.

The view at the top is (IMO) the most spectacular in the park and the route is incredibly easy to follow. Just make sure you are prepared (i.e. water, hiking shoes) and are ready for the distance/elevation gain. Enjoy!

Friday, July 07, 2017

We did this hike in one day... wouldn't recommend doing that! Make sure everyone in your group is capable of hiking 19 miles! We had someone in our group who got injured because they thought they could handle it.. later I found out the most they've hiked was 5 miles!! Wasn't a good hiking day for us!
If you plan on making this trek in a day make sure you bring a water filter (we filled up 3 times) and plenty of food.
Make sure to bring bug spray!!! And don't use the all natural stuff! Mine would keep the mosquitos away for 10-15 minutes and then I would have to reapply again (ended up getting 67 bites.. yes I counted)!
We did see a bear on the way down the trail so just be aware of your surroundings!
Don't get me wrong, the views were beautiful, but I probably wouldn't do this hike again unless we split it up into two days. I definitely want to hike to clouds rest again, but starting from the trailhead off Tioga road!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Favorite hike in Yosemite.

Took the JMT up right after the first footbridge to avoid being soaked on the mist trail. Highly reccomend this route to stay dry and enjoy a gentler elevation gain as the increased distance is pretty minimal. (plus you get to walk right past the top of Nevada without going out of your way)

I left at 5am from Happy Isles and made the summit by 9am. I started with one liter of water and an empty bottle and refilled both near Little Yosemite so I didn't have to carry extra weight since I knew the first bit is pretty easy.

The JMT up is definite elevation gain but the trail is so nice it feels super cruiser. Then you have a couple miles until the half dome trail splits off that is more or less flat and pretty easy hiking. A bit after you pass the half dome trail is where the trail gets fairly steep and sustained. But still not bad at all, way easier than the Upper Falls trail. The last half mile is the crux of the route, it gets steeper and route finding can be tricky. As late June there is barely any snow on the trail and I only very briefly would have to walk on snow.

View from the top is worth everything. Made it back down to the bottom of Happy Isles in 7.5 hours with half an hour at the top. A wonderful day.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Completed the hike with 4 friends on Tuesday amongst sparse midweek crowds. We're all experienced long distance hikers and carried 1-1.5L running packs with trekking poles - we used a water filter to refill once on the way up and once down. It took about 8 hours of moving time to finish the hike. The Mist trail is more scenic but it is really wet right now so only pursue this route if you're looking to get soaked and fight the crowds. Definitely go down the longer JMT route if your legs are tired at the end of the day. The final mile to the summit is still covered in deep snow but it's firmly packed (stay away from tree or rock holes). If you have yaktrax or microspikes you can take a steep straight shot to the summit. The snow won't slow you down much if you have traction since the section is so short and the conditions are good.

Unfortunately I lost my black iPhone 7 while we were running down the steep snow so if you come across it when the snow melts, please contact me on Instagram @ryryung and you'll be rewarded with both trail karma and a gift!

I did the hike again the next day to look for my phone and finished the trip in 6.5 hours, running some of the downhill sections.

Very easy trail to navigate with park mileage signage - just break down the hike into 3 sections to mentally prepare your breaks. Switchbacks climb to Nevada Falls, flat/rolling section to Half Dome turnoff, Switchbacks climb to Cloud's Rest

Sunday, May 28, 2017

This was the hardest yet one of the best hikes I have ever done, and this comes after 2 months backpacking and hiking in South America! I parked in Happy Isles and hit the trail at 6:30am. I went up the John Muir trail and came back down the mist trail and would recommend this way round. It's a gruelling but beautiful 6 hours to the top. The first few hours are very steep to the falls but slightly shallower through the forest past Half Dome. I went mid May 2017 and the last few miles were snowy which slowed me down but was very beautiful. The view from the top is worth every step. The panorama is absolutely breathtaking! No words or pictures do it justice. It takes around 4.5 hours going down. I took 3 litres of water and drunk almost all of it. Plenty of food needed as well as advised below! Don't underestimate how challenging the hike is but you will be so well rewarded! 21 miles return and around 11 hours with 1 hour at the top.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Just sitting here recovering from today's hike to Cloud's rest in yosemite. We did the hike from the valley. It was brutal and yet hugely rewarding. The first segment up vernal and Nevada falls is well known. STEEP. then some flat before some steady climbing up switchbacks and then spits off to the right. Left foot traffic going to half dome. Then steady climbing until you get to the last mile which on May 21 was totallly covered in snow. You can see your target which seems high and it is! The views from the top are unbelievable. We highly recommend. OH yeah, Alex Haler is wrong! It takes every bit of twelve hours. Lots of food and water needed.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

While this hike is beautiful, it is also very, very difficult, especially if attempting from the valley floor. 7 miles in, I thought it was so far an unrelenting hike. It's a 15% grade pretty much the whole way up until that point. I didn't know what I was in store for. The next 3.5 miles were the steepest I had ever been on. If you do attempt this hike, do it for the challenge, not for the views. The views are incredible, but by the time I got to the top of Cloud's Rest, I was too out of it to appreciate it. Not to mention the thought of having to walk yet another 10 miles to get home. Downhill is easier, but there still are 11,000 steps to get down the waterfalls. It's a painful, grueling trip. And, yes, I'd do it again.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Overall the most fulfilling and challenging hike I've ever done. Recommend you be in decent shape for this if planning to accomplish in one day. Bring adequate supplies. If you're used to sea-levels of oxygen, be prepared to catch altitude around the last 2-3 miles of the ascent. The descent from the top can be a bit ambiguous, so pay attention to features on your way up.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Whoever gives this hike less than 5 stars is crazy! This is easily one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done. Sure, it's long and somewhat difficult, but that is clearly stated and known before going on it.

The first couple of miles from the Valley floor at steep. The last couple miles before the summit are also steep. A great deal of the middle of the hike is totally reasonable.

It's worth every single step, even the steep end. This trail is so peaceful. The views are incredible nearly the entire time. You feel the vastness of the forest during the limited segments without incredible views, as well.

The top is just spectacular. Panoramic views of all things Yosemite. Lake view, Half Dome, countless mountains. I went in the middle of October and the weather was perfect. I was even able to kick off my shoes and do some yoga for about an hour at the top. No wind, warm and sunny. I am going to do this again and again, every time I'm in Yosemite.

It took me about 7.5 hours to do the entire hike, including an hour at the top for some yoga. I didn't need any food and got by with about 1 liter of water, but I'd recommend bringing more water and some food if you aren't experienced.

Check out my photos of the hike on Instagram: ahaler1

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

This trail was difficult . Although well worth your time as you reach the top. The last 2.5 miles were the hardest especially when your legs and feet are tired. Beautiful though .

Monday, August 29, 2016

It had some great views and very pretty valleys, the last 100 yards of trail before the summit really gives you butterflies because of the shear cliffs on either side.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

It's quite the accomplishment of a hike. By the time you walk to your car and take a few other detours the miles hiked can easily get up to 25 miles. I am glad I did this hike at least once.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Great hike with and even better final view of the valley

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wow, incredible!! I parked in half dome village so that added on another couple miles to my overall hike to about 24 miles.

Pack a lot of food and water, that's my first word of advice. I took the Mist Tail portion going up and the John Muir trail portion coming down and by the end my legs were totally wasted. Took me actually 5 hours going up and coming down.

But my good news when you get to the top it's all worth it. Words here can't do it justice.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

this hike is the most intense and challenging hike we've ever done but so well worth it. Words cannot explain the beauty, you will have to experience it yourself.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


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