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Clouds Rest Trail via Tenaya Lake

HARD 814 reviews
#6 of 244 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
1 day 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
1 day 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
3 days 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
4 days 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
5 days 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
6 days 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
7 days 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
9 days 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.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
9 days ago

I mapped it on my phone and it was ~15 mi RT. My first solo 15 mi hike! I had one day in Yosemite and decided to spend it hiking Clouds Rest. I got to the Sunrise Lake Trailhead at 8am (I stayed in Mariposa the night before and didnt anticipate a 2 hr drive). The small parking lot was full so I parked along the street (lots of other cars did as well). First mile was easy peasy, then you're hit with an incline (goes up for quite a while), then back down, then up again, then down again, through the valley, then up again until you hit Clouds Rest. I hiked this on 9/26. I started at 8am (55°F), got to the Summit at 12pm (88°F), then down to my car at 4pm. So it took me 8 hours round trip. I carried 3L of water, a bottle of Gatorade, & lots of snacks. I drink a lot of water and had about 0.5L left when I got back to my car. I wasn't too sore after the hike (surprisingly) but I had a headache from the elevation change. Lots of going up and down. Overall, I loved this hike and would definitely do it again. The view from the summit is unbelieveable! I took many breaks as needed and still managed to finish in 8 hrs (which I didnt think I would).

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
9 days ago

This is an absolutely amazing trail. Not as tough as I thought but still a difficult track. My wife and I arrived at the trail ~7 am and easily found a good parking spot. My wife summited at 10 am. Me being the big fraidy cat of heights only went partially up the foot trail at the end. The best views of Yosemite I’ve ever seen in my opinion.

hiking
15 days ago

Difficulty: 6-8.5 intermediate to hard Duration: ~8.5 hours (5 hr up, 3.5 hr down) Distance: ~16 miles Parking: trailhead parking, no permit required (inside Yosemite) Views: 9.5 out of 10, 350 degree view at (almost) top, top would be 360. Looking down on Yosemite valley and half Dome, amazing granite gouge just to the west. Incline: pretty flat for first ~1.5 miles, hard (1000 ft/mile) for ~1 mile, next 4.5 intermediate, last mile hard 1000ft/mile Technical: sandy wide track first ~1.5 miles, sandy dirt single track, some rocky parts and many steps, couple tiny water crossings but stepping stones, rock scrambling at the end, very risky at the top, only for the extremely experienced and/or fearless! Equipment: Merrill mesh waterproof boots, mountain hardware white long sleeve shirt, north face pants, ~30 lb pack (setup camp 1 mile in and day packed up and back). Weather: 60s at the parking lot, 40s at night Shade: much of the route, none at the peak Environment: forest vegetation, beautiful pine trees, granite mountains, meadows, beautiful lake Wildlife: birds, squirrels, deer, large ground bird (don’t know the species) Bugs: none (could be different other seasons) Details: park at sunrise parking, slow uphill then steep switchbacks for 1 mile, down and up a few times then rock scramble to the peak. We did not venture to the very peak, were able to see well enough near the top, 350 degrees. TIPs: we backpacked a mile in and setup camp in some large rocks, took our day packs from there. The peak is very intense and we did not make it to the very peak, but another couple walked straight up the rock pile peak, gutsy! PROS: extreme workout, amazing views of Yosemite valley from the north CONS: top was a bit risky for us, didn’t want to be a statistic. Scott H (aka Swiper)

hiking
18 days ago

Clouds rest is pretty much as good as it gets for views of Yosemite Valley’s iconic giants. The best part is that after you summit you will tower over half dome and all others in the valley. Great views of the backcountry as well! Mount Lyell and Mount Hoffman are easily visible on a clear day (they are the ridges you won’t be able to see over). We got on the trail at 0600 summiting by 0940. We appeared to be the first today to summit along with one other gentleman who made the last few miles with us. Watch out for the bees/ yellow jackets swarming on the far end of the peak. We did the whole trail in 8 hours on the dot with a one hour break split between the summit and the top of the switchbacks. When approaching the summit I’d recommend the left hand approach, it’s a bit easier than going straight up. I brought my trekking polls but did not use them. Brought my 3L bladder and maybe drank a little less than liter, we hydrated very well the days prior (gallon each day). This hike is epic and puts many others to shame. Views are best in the morning/ dawn especially in the early parts of the walk. Enjoy the hike!

hiking
21 days ago

Some of the best views in the park by far. 15 miles round-trip, recommend starting early to avoid crowding at the summit. Took us about 7 with a long break at the top.

hiking
23 days ago

Did this from Sunrise Jct while completing a NOBO JMT Sept 8. Spent the night about 300’ from top in a little spot (previously used of course) south side of ascent. The views from here (saw sunset and sunrise) are among the best in Yosemite. The sunrise on top rivaled any experience I had along the entire JMT. The only negative, especially after over 275 miles in relative solitude, was the endless parade of people on the trail. My advice, skip Half Dome and the even bigger parade of people, do this hike, go over the top about a mile to see awesome views of pinnacles, then turn around, go back and take a lunch break at Sunrise Lakes before finishing up. That will be a day to remember.

hiking
27 days ago

Hiked last Thursday from Sunrise Lakes parking lot need Tenaya Lake. Absolutely gorgeous hike. Took us about 8 hours, with about an hour break at the top. Lots of hornets at the summit so beware. We dipped our feet in Tenaya Lake afterwards, was so relaxing! Definitely recommend this hike.

hiking
28 days ago

Only had 2 days rest after completing half Dome. So this hike was very difficult. View is one of the greatest! Trekking poles are a must. Met amazing day hikers and back packers from all over. Up and down in 8 hours. ....time for a nap

hiking
29 days ago

We didn’t get permit for Half Dome this year, so decided to do this hike as a replacement. This peak is higher and you can see Half Dome from there and many many more other peaks. You can get 360 view from the top. It is challenging but great hike. I was struggling a lot on the way up as air was thin and it was very hard to breath in such an altitude. But there were plenty spots on the way to the top with the shade where you can rest. And view at the top is totally worth it. Think about this hike as of full day hike. Start early. Make sure you will bring enough water as there will be no water even at a parking lot. We had around 2,5 gallons of water for 2 and bunch of food and snacks. If you have hiking poles, bring them with you as they are life savers for your knees.

hiking
29 days ago

I hiked this yesterday. Beautiful! Truly worth it! No pictures could do this view justice. Took me 9.5 hours to complete, but I'm a slow hiker. Bring plenty of water, 3L. There's currently no clean water source to refill from. Also, there's no major creek that you need to wade in. Just a few small ones that you can easily pass without bringing extra shoes. Bring bug repellent. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes. They even bit me through my leggings. Probably because I took so many breaks. My recording stopped at 12 miles because my phone died, but it is closer to 14.2 miles roundtrip. The trail itself is nice. That first uphill climb after 1.5 miles was hard but I found the climb just before the footrest was tougher, probably because I was tired. The thing I like most about this trail is that it's not all uphill like upper Yosemite falls. The flat areas are a nice break after those treacherous uphill climbs. Do this hike. It's worth it!

amazing views but very difficult! for experienced hikers or people who are very fit only! this hike kicked my butt. the elevation gain is ridiculous. it's like a super stairmaster. many rock scrambles. but the views at the end are Absolutely amazing! took me 4.5 hours to go up and 3.5 hours to come down. we spent about 45 min at the top.

Great challenging trail with a breathtaking view. Take your time, enjoy the view.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

A hike not to be missed! We (a group of 6) hiked to Clouds Rest from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead today. Great weather & spectacular scenery. Lots of hikers on the trail but it was not too crowded. The Clouds Rest foot trail is not narrow at all (unless you consider a width of about 10 feet to be narrow). Do not be intimidated by other descriptions & try it out for yourself. We hiked on the left side of the foot trail for part of the way & on the "spine" for the remainder. Treating our hiking outfits (including hats & socks) with permethrin & applying picaridin insect repellent effectively kept the bugs away. AllTrails should correct the length of the trail in the description. It is 14.2 miles out & back.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Fun hike! Switchbacks about 1.5 in... long downhill after that that sucks on the way back. The ridge is not as narrow as it seems. The view is one of the best I’ve seen in Yosemite. It got crowded quick I wish I had left before 8am but my sleeping bag was so cozy!!! I’m glad I headed back down before 11am.

recorded Recording - Sep 14, 3:18 PM

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Challenging but worth the effort. I can’t really add anything that hasn’t already been said about this trail. It was hard but a lot of fun and the views are spectacular. Start early and take plenty if water and some food to keep your energy up. Enjoy.

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