Clouds Rest Trail via Tenaya Lake

HARD 884 reviews
#7 of 245 trails in

Clouds Rest Trail via Tenaya Lake is a 12.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, 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

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

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
15 hours ago

One of the best and most secluded trails in the park

I started the stroke 5 AM because I wasn’t sure how the elevation was going to affect me and I wanted to give myself enough time to make it up, spend some time there, and come back with calm. (I haven’t lived at elevation for more than a year) I have to admit I’m surprised I made it in under seven hours, so those other stories of it taking 8 hours at a leisurely lively pace are spot on I wore a smart wool base layer, Patagonia nano puff jacket as a mid-layer, and a bright yellow Mammut soft shell, with light North Face hand Warm gloves (the kind I normally wear also to go for jigs on chilly mornings. I peaked the layers as I went along and was down to base- layers long before the summit. November has been a blessing this year. The deep autumn colors are frosting a little more and will be soon gone. Today that made for a fairytale-esc quality blending with the evergreens and shades of morning light. The trail is wonderfully maintained and for anyone who has that piece of coal lodged in their stomach about heights, this is a wonderful trail. As you approach the parts that look thin from a distance, you find there is ample room, width and ways to move forward.

hiking
rocky
22 hours ago

Amazing trail and well worth the drive to get to.. took us about 8 hours total with a lunch break and few stops. Just went in early November and the weather was perfect. Even saw a little bit of snow patches. Trail is easy to follow however it was dark on our way back and would highly recommend having a headlamp handy in case you go and plan on coming back in the early evening. The rocks can be very uneven a lot of the hike. Switchbacks are tolerable, and I enjoyed every minute of the hike. The view at the top was amazing. Giving you a 360’ view of Yosemite. Well worth it and recommend this hike to anyone in decent shape.

hiking
rocky
1 day ago

10/11/2019 my tip is to start early, I started at 06:30, and I was alone , temp was 21 f. Took me 2 hours and 50 minutes to the top. The distance on the signs are higher in 1 mile than it is. The last part when you climb the rocks is amazing sending adrenaline to your head ( though I wouldn’t recommend climbing it in strong winds or Ice ). I stayed there on top of the world half hour with a beautiful crow. The way down took 2 hours and 10 minutes, I needed to stay focused cause you can easily roll down. Overall it’s one of the best I had in my life.

Especially you’re hiking in the fall start the hike with early sunset timing in mind. No snow yet. Great view! I think this hike is closer to 14-15 miles though.

hiking
5 days ago

Awesome trail. Did it July 2019. There was some snow and difficult to locate the trail sometimes.

hiking
rocky
9 days ago

10 days ago

This is one of my favorite hikes in the area. Turned the last trip into a overnight so we could see the sunrise on the summit. Went mid-October and it was really cold in the morning (low 30s). The switchbacks a mile and half in can be challenging but it's totally worth it.

hiking
scramble
10 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

Definitely a butt kicker. Not one of my favs. However I am 52 and felt very accomplished finishing this hike. One of my longest jaunts yet. Did this in late July. Did not walk the narrow ledge- waaaaay too many impatient people breathing down your neck. Not worth falling!! Trail was crowded- but to be expected. Views were “MEH”... seen prettier- such as Mt Dana. This was a hike for ya I can do this... check this off my list... let me find another challenging hike...

hiking
rocky
20 days ago

14.8miles Took my mom and I about 8hrs including plenty of stops. First 1.5mi very flat then goes into switchbacks with beautiful greenery and flowers. About 3 miles in you come across a split off with path to clouds rest. Trail continues to incline and decline with flat terrain in between. Once you’re about 2 miles to clouds rest it is a constant uphill on a very gravelly terrain. Easy to slip. Hiking Poles would be nice but not necessary. Actual “clouds rest” with the narrow rock pathway is longer than I had anticipated. I’m terrified of heights and made it most of the way out. About 30yards from end. still had amazing views of half dome and a 360 views. No water or bathrooms anywhere on trail (but a bathroom at trailhead). Ended by a quick swim in Tenaya Lake - super refreshing and beautiful!! We hiked at the end of September.

hiking
rocky
scramble
22 days ago

Excellent hike! But for sure for the experienced! Took almost 8 hours and totaled about 14 miles. Like every says the switchbacks over a mile in will really test you. The high elevation doesn’t help your breathing! All this to say the few at the end is unforgettable!

hiking
23 days ago

10/20/19 8:00am start time, 22*F 2.5 hours up 20 mins up top 2 hours, 10 mins down 5 hours total* Difficult hike with some long climbs and a couple of steep graded inclines, but overall much worth it thanks to an incredible payoff up top. *For context, I’m a professional strength & conditioning coach (train athletes) and personally train myself 6-7 days per week. I didn’t run any of this hike or anything like that, but definitely pushed myself on the pace and took no breaks > 20-30 seconds I’d say.

hiking
23 days ago

Awesome hike with great views at the end. Took us 3hrs up and 3hrs down. Had lunch at the top for about 30 mins. Got through 2.5 liters water each. If you're reasonably in shape this will be 'moderate' in terms of difficulty (we rarely do these kinds of walks). I actually found the switchbacks ok but the final mile was tough. Probably lack of stamina. The exposed bit at the end where the views are was an emotional challenge for my gf who doesn't like heights but it's not physically demanding.

hiking
rocky
scramble
26 days ago

This trail was extremely difficult. With breaks & a long lunch up top, it took about 9 hours. Definitely worth the views. Bring plenty of water and definitely dress for cooler weather now.

hiking
27 days ago

Went 10/15 and the weather was pleasant. We saw approximately 25-30 people throughout the entire hike. Started at 10:15 am. A bit cool in the shade, so you may want an extra jacket. Long, predominantly uphill hike. We are slightly above average paced hikers and it took us 4 hours and 10 min to get to the top with multiple breaks at the tops of switchbacks/uphill climbs. Enjoyed an hour-ish break at the top. Took us about 2 hours and 30 min to get back down with several breaks. Got back to the car by 6 pm. I see a lot of reports about the hike being 14.8mi long, and the reason is because the park has signs saying 7.4 mi to cloud’s rest. Of course, when you get to the top of the switchbacks, the park sign said 2.5 mi back to the start of the hike (just like all trails). My iPhone gps clocked me in around 12 mi for the hike, and it’s been fairly accurate on walks I do on the track at home on flat land, at least. Disregard the park signs - trust all trails! The last part of the hike is really scary if you’re afraid of heights. My husband and I debated turning around midway up the final ascent. However, I highly recommend you doing whatever you need to in order to get to the top - crawl on all fours, cry, whatever. We followed the foot trail on the left of the spine as long as possible. Then climbed up on the spine and walked in the middle between rocks. Crawled a bit when it narrowed to 3-4’ and didn’t have any boulders to walk between. Then stood up when it widened to and walked the rest of the way up. Didn’t look down either side the entire way up. Coming back down, we walked (and scooted on our butts when climbing down bigger rocks) until we got back to the foot trail on the left. If you make it up there, you can make it down. It was sunny and the rock surface wasn’t wet. It wasn’t slippery, so you do feel secure from that perspective. It was absolutely gorgeous! A bit hazy from the smoke but still very clear to see. They took the chains down for half dome, so there weren’t any hikers climbing to watch. An amazing view! Coming in from Tioga Pass in October, I hadn’t exactly been wow’d yet from the views in Yosemite. This completely changed my perspective. This is one of the prettiest views I’ve ever seen (putting it up there with Observation Point, - Zion, Lamar Valley -Yellowstone, Hatcher’s Pass - AK). If you are too uncomfortable to hike the entire way up, once you get out of the forest and reach the rocky area to climb up, go to the right by Tenaya Canyon and sit on a rock. Eerily quiet. You can view Tenaya Lake (I believe) in the distance sitting in the middle of the mountain peaks. That may be prettier than the view of half dome. Of course, at the top, you can see all of it. :) Bring lots of water or bring a filter for the stream/lake if you get thirsty. We saw there was a lake roughly 3.5 mi into the hike and a stream near there. It’s rather muddy around the lake, so the stream may be preferred. We’re from Florida and drink like fish. I ran through 3L of water right after coming down the spine (roughly 6.5 mi in) and my husband ran through 2.5L plus a 16oz energy drink roughly 9 mi in. Be safe, have fun and enjoy the view you earned after the brutal uphill hike! I read this prior to climbing to help psyche myself up for climbing the spine. It helped open me up to the idea of hiking with a fear of heights. https://blog.anands.net/a-guide-to-hiking-clouds-rest-for-hikers-with-acrophobia-30189d480f5b

hiking
muddy
no shade
rocky
28 days ago

great hike! those switch backs are killers, nice lake at mile 3.5 over all loved it! views are great

hiking
28 days ago

The view from the top is insane. About a mile into the hike the incline gets a little intense, but its a very lightly trafficked hike and it’s all worth it! We spent 6.5 hours out (3 hours up, 1 hour at the top, 2.5 hours down). Bring lots of water and some snacks and do it!!

hiking
30 days ago

A great hike! All the smoke had cleared today and it was absolutely perfect views. Started at 9.30 am and finished back at the car for 4pm. Spent 30 mins on the top for lunch. Jaw dropping views from the top. Worth the push to get up there.

hiking
30 days ago

GPS said 13.3 miles, took us 6 hours and 10 minutes and we spent 40 minutes at the top. We really hiked hard with minimal breaks. About 250 people on the trail. Not as narrow at the top as we feared, it was easy. All in all, INCREDIBLRE reward for a minimal effort.

hiking
1 month ago

Popped my cherry on this one as far as cool hikes go. The switchbacks are an ordeal. That said, the sights, the fresh air, the altitude, the gravity of it all. Epic.

hiking
1 month ago

Switchbacks about 1.5 miles in are one of the hardest things I've done in terms of pure physical endurance, however, this is now the best trail I've done in my life!

hiking
1 month ago

Enjoyable hike. Getting to the top of Clouds Rest itself wasn’t as bad as anticipated, but if you have a fear of heights could see it being difficult. You can still get some good views without going all the way. Unfortunately there was wildfire smoke obscuring the valley. Great 360 views though. Rest of the hike is mostly shaded/forested. We got 13.3 miles on our watches from Sunrise trailhead.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike was the best hike I did in Yosemite. I started at the sunrise trailhead at Tenaya lake at 8:00am for a round trip total of 15 miles. After about 1.5 miles in, you start an ascent of around 1000ft via switch backs that are killer on the legs (bring hiking sticks). The rest of the trail is fairly moderate until the last mile. I finished with my boyfriend now fiancé (He proposed at the top) in a total of 8 hours with a 40 min stop at the top. The views are 1000 plus feet above half dome. The last half mile is a large boulder walkway about 10-15 ft across and has drop offs on both sides, not for the faint of heart. This hike is totally worth every sore muscle, a must do in Yosemite.

hiking
1 month ago

Excellent hike my wife and I did today. Left the sunrise trailhead at 8:30. We pretty slow hikers and reached the start of the spine at 1pm. Spine is certainly exposed but wide enough and with enough spots to rest if needed that it wasn’t too bad. I found the halfdome subdome more threatening as I have occasional vertigo issues. Round trip appropriately 15 miles. Returned to car at 5:45. Lots of shade along the way. Once at the destination, there is lots of room to relax. Great fall day!

hiking
muddy
snow
1 month ago

Today was our adventure to Clouds rest in Yosemite. It is a 14.8 mile hike round trip. Took us 4 hours up with lots of picture stops and explosions and 3.75 hrs down, cuz I'm slow, lol! spent an hour on top It was an amazing hike and the views from the top are breathtaking! I definitely recommend, there are some challenges with quick increase in elevation and the spine does narrow down to about 5 ft wide in one spot, but then back to 10ft. This was a great hike will definitely be doing this one again.

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