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Happy Isles, Vernall Falls, Half Dome, Tenaya Lake, and Mirror Lakes Loop

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Yosemite National Park

Happy Isles, Vernall Falls, Half Dome, Tenaya Lake, and Mirror Lakes Loop is a 30.2 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October.

Length 30.2 mi Elevation gain 9,419 ft Route type Loop
Backpacking Camping Fishing Hiking Nature trips Bird watching Running Forest Lake Partially paved River Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife Scramble Fee No dogs
Description
Waypoints (10)

Yosemite National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are $35 per vehicle or $30 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is $20 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $70.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (272)
Photos (57)
Recordings (387)
Completed (4784)
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John Hogg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 8, 2020
BackpackingGreat!RockyScramble

This is a hands down a bucket list level hike of Yosemite valley looping around Tenaya Canyon.. Taking this route is very challenging and not for beginners, but summits 2 major monuments that Yosemite Valley has to offer and has vistas of many more. Day 1 - Hiked from backpackers camp to mirror lake trail head and took Snow Creek trail to up. Called the Yosemite stairmaster, and they werent kidding. We did 106 switchbacks and about 2500 feet in about a mile and a half. Beautiful views of half dome and the mirror lake valley on the way up. Once at the top you are in an active bear zone that ends by the footbridge, you cannot camp in this area until about a mile past the bridge. Make sure to get water. We pressed on gaining anoher 1500 feet. Make sure to stock up on water at the beginning of snow creek, after the last set of switchbacks there is no water at the rim of Tenaya valley. Get enough for dinner, breakfast, and the hike to Tenaya Lake. I took 3 liters in my CNOC. However there is a fantastic view, and recommend camping there, just make sure you are a mile from the road. Marked our spot on the recording. You can see Clouds rest directly across the canyon with a chair like granite cliff face, brilliant spot to eat dinner and first night camp spot. Day 2 - Pressed on to Tenaya lake, mostly level hike thru woodlands. Tenaya lake is beautiful, and once you arrive, there are bathrooms, and trashcans to dump used wrappers. After filling up at Tenaya lake we pushed on and decided to take the 1 mile detour to stay at Sunrise lakes. Absolutely stunning, with lots of great campsites. We set up and did an evening hike to check out the other 2 lakes (3 total all above 9K feet). This ads about 4 miles to the total hike, but highly recommended. The first Sunrise lake is gorgeous. Day 3 - We packed up and decided to push on to Clouds Rest. Along the trail there is 2 spots to get water, make sure to load up at either the glacier pond like lake, or if you push on from there there is one last chance to get water at a trickle of a stream that crosses the path before the ascent to Clouds rest. There is no water for a few miles past Clouds rest summit. We set up camp at the tree line a few hundred meters below the summit at a beautiful site next to the granite cliff face with plugning views of Tenaya canyon - with take your breath away drops of several thousand feet. Stunning. We made 4 different trips to the summit due to the breathtaking 365 views of Yosemite including cathedral peak, half dome, quarter dome, among many others insane views. You can also see the granite cliff we camped at on night one directly across, only this time from 2000 feet higher up. Tons of people at the summit during the day, but we were the only ones up there for dinner and sunset, which was hands down the most stunning sunset I have ever seen in my life. Mind blown. Day 4 - Woke up to catch the sunrise from clouds rest packed up and made the trek to meet up with new friends met at Clouds Rest to summit Half Dome. On the way down Clouds rest there are a ton of awesome views of Half Dome that look like the wallpaper on your mac. Met our friends, stashed our stuff and hit the stairs. Super scary going up the cables, but rewarding with yet more awesome views of the canyon. You can see from the top of half dome the Snow Creek switchbacks we started our journey from, and they look as wicked as they feel from that vantage. After making it down, we thanked them and parted ways to hike out. The hike down is hard, ands we took the Mist trail but in doing so got to see Vernal, and Nevada Falls as well as Emerald pool. Totally satisfied from Clouds rest, half dome, this felt like surprise bonuses. Yosemite offers the most stunning collection of show stoppers, we were blown away. Last day was very strenuous, as summiting Half Dome was another 1500 feet elevation gain and from Clouds rest out to the valley - we did 18 miles in all on this day alone. So it is not easy. If you looking for an unforgettable hike, that hits unforgettable vista after unforgettable vista. I really don't think it gets much better than this. We did the loop of this trail but added 4 miles with a small modification and spent that night at Sunrise lakes, see the attached recording for details.

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cece parveen
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Hiking

Bring LOTS of water it is very hot and if you are doing a half dome attempt for gods sake please wear gloves!!!

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Queso Dilla
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 12, 2019
Hiking

Great loop. We just finished it (Nov 2019). The actual trail is much longer than this one. Plan for about 33 miles round trip. Many creeks are dry too so fill up where you can.

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Keith Johnston
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Hiking

Day 1 Valley floor to Snow Creek Beware the switchbacks. We counted 109 of them, the grade is steep, and you will have no shade. But it is gorgeous after you make the rim. Good camping opportunities around 8 miles, but don’t go too far... you’re not supposed to camp within a mile of Tioga Rd. Day 2 Snow Creek to Little Yosemite Valley Very hard day. Expected mileage was way off. We clocked 19 miles rather than 14 per plan. Olmsted Point and Clouds Rest were excellent. Amazing views up and down the valley. Day 3 LYV to Half Dome loop No cable permits available, so we took the “back door” route up Snake Dike. We had carried rope and gear 30 miles just for this. Worth it! Glad to have this app on the approach hike. It kept us on track when the trail was a bit sketchy. Came down the cables. We were surprised that the summit was nearly empty, as we were expecting a crowd. Trail gossip was that someone had fallen off a few days earlier. Day 4 LYV to Valley floor Last 5 miles are all downhill, but steep and rough. Pretty strenuous on old knees, so I was glad to have poles. Nevada and Vernal falls are really nice. Trail is very crowded so don’t expect peace and quiet. Really fun four days, just the right difficulty.

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Jean Torres
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BackpackingRocky

I just finished a backpacking trip similar to this one. the only difference is that I went up Clouds Rest and it was amazing. This route has some awesome views but they do not compare to the one up there. Anyhow, this is still a great trip. Snow Creek is the hardest climb out of the valley so either start really early or plan to carry enough water for the heat (depends on time of the year off course).

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Joanna W
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 7, 2019
Hiking

We did this trail up until about mile 14 where we had trouble navigating a steep incline because of snow, June 29th! It was a crazy snow year. Otherwise it was an awesome journey. The views and solitude was amazing. Protip: we camped the first night at around mile 8 where it takes a sharp left north, it was the BEST campsite ever, best view. Flat ground for tents and trees for hammocks. Also up near tenaya lake on tioga road there is a trash can if you want to be able to unload some trash halfway through your trip.

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Bill Crain
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Hiking

Only did this one from Curry Village to Tioga Pass Rd with my son and our friend when they were young. Awesome and pretty difficult at the time, especially for the boys. Didn't really plan to go there but it was great!

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J. Fengel
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 31, 2017
Hiking
First to Review

As per NPS website: "Dogs are not allowed on hiking trails.. dogs are generally allowed on paved trails on the floor of Yosemite"

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Carol Crouch
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Hiking
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Ivan Demidov
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Hiking
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Brenan Moore
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Backpacking
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Colton Anderson
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Hiking
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Kristie Kappes
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Hiking
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Kris Mitchell
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Hiking
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Roberto Raygoza
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Hiking
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Jessica Daw
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Hiking
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Ryan Bielenberg
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Hiking
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Ryan Sullivan
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Hiking
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Taylor & Brian Walsh
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Hiking
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Don Harvey
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Hiking
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Sharan A Ran
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Hiking
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Ana Camargo
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Hiren Patel
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Hiking
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Chris Bowler
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Hiking
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Michael Rumiancau
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Hiking
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Rohan Bhandari
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Hiking
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Alana Hennessy
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Hiking
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Jamie Rider
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Hiking
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