May Lake High Sierra Camp from Tioga Pass Road [CLOSED]

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Yosemite National Park

May Lake High Sierra Camp from Tioga Pass Road is a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 6.4 miles Elevation Gain: 1,076 feet Route Type: Out & Back




nature trips


bird watching





wild flowers




no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. This trail starts at the parking lot on Tioga Pass Rd. Head north along the trail towards May Lake. It is around 2.7 miles to the May Lake parking lot, where you can also park if you want to shorten the hike. From here, it is another 1 mile trek uphill to the lake. Since the lake is used as a domestic water supply, you are unfortunately not allowed to swim. However, it is a beautiful lake to stop and have lunch at. If you are up for the challenge, continue along the trail to Mt. Hoffman!

9 months ago

9 months ago

10 months ago

Amazing hike, first part under trees and after the camp site (closed) more in the open space. Beautiful lake at the end, with still ice.

Mon May 20 2019

beautiful hike not too tough.

Thu Nov 22 2018

Beautiful lake and great trail! The views of the Sierra's are stunning. Completed in September 2016.

Thu Nov 08 2018

Did this trail in November on a "light day" of hiking with my wife. I absolutely loved it - high elevation makes for a magical, quiet surreal experience as you trek upwards towards the mountain. Upon reaching May Lake, I was blown away - the isolated lake on the mountain top is something out of a fantasy book. Great spot to stop for lunch before heading up Hoffman. If youre going doing later months, bring an extra sweater - it's cold by the lake!

Sat Sep 08 2018

The hike seemed a bit longer than the sign indicated at the beginning of the trail from the parking lot (1.2 miles), but it was definitely worth the wait! The hike was gorgeous and my mom and I got there just in time to see the sun set behind the mountains! If you’re planning on hiking around the same time (5-6pm) I highly suggest bringing a jacket because it gets chilling hiking on the way back.

Tue Aug 21 2018

The trail as marked starts at the entrance of the track, not from the car park which is 2 miles in. So if you want the longer hike, you can walk the extra 2 miles by starting at the road. Otherwise it’s a short and easy hike to the lake. From the lake you can make your way up to Mt Hoffman which is a great summer scramble and offers great views of the valley. Highly recommended.

Wed Jul 18 2018

Spectacular lake. Easy walking trail, but made more challenging by the fact that it is at 9,000 feet.

Mon Apr 30 2018


Thu Nov 23 2017

I have a question is there fish in the lake

Fri Aug 25 2017

Very beautiful scenery and views. Missing that last star because there were lots of fallen trees blocking the trail and the trail was very rocky. Overall very nice and worth the hike!

Fri Jul 21 2017

Don't forget the bug spray. Did this hike a few days ago. Beautiful scenery, lake still partly frozen, and mosquitoes are out in force.

Wed Jul 19 2017

Disappointed to arrive at the turnoff to May Lake to find the road to the trailhead was closed. We decided to hike the extra distance anyway. We found the road was closed because of a tree down and a lot of deep snow. The hike itself was actually pretty easy and wasn't very steep. The steepest part is just below the lake. We arrived at the lake to find it was still frozen despite being about 80 degrees and in the middle of July! We later attempted to head to the top of Mount Hoffman but turned back due to the amount of snow (not to mention a local guide advised against it for that same reason). All in all, thought the lake was beautiful and the hike was relatively easy.

Tue Jul 11 2017

Road to trail closed but you can walk adding another 2 miles each way, lots of ice, the lake is completely frozen.

Sat Dec 03 2016

Easiest high Sierra camp to get to but still beautiful and worth it. check out Mt Hoffman while you're there too, it's the geological center of yosemite.

Sun Jun 26 2016

Just went to the lake and back. Gorgeous views. When you reach the lake hike up to a non marked lookout to the right of the lake. Fun to hike in June with still a little snow and running snow melt creeks.

Thu Jun 09 2016

Awesome adventure. The road to May Lake parking area had not been plowed, so we parked at the turnout about a half mile east instead of at the road entrance. We could have walked up the road but from the turnout there was actually a trail, which with the snow, disappeared from time to time. Hiking through snow was fun and challenging, as the melt opened thin spots where we could fall through plus it was hard to locate the trail. As we approached the High Sierra Camp, the snow got deeper and if not for the lake, we could have easily got lost - in fact, the same day, some hikers got lost trying to get to Sunrise Lakes. The lake was half frozen, providing some awesome photo ops. We went across the spillway side and could not find the Mt. Hoffman trail, so turned back; overall about 8 miles RT. It was fun and the following day we went to the top of Half Dome. May Lake was a great warmup.

Thu Jul 09 2015

Fun easy hike but no swimming in the lake :/

Tue Jun 02 2015

Very nice trail, and quite tame. Can be steeper towards the end, just before gaining the final step to the lake, but nothing too challenging. My 4 and 6 year olds were able to make the hike pretty easily. Trail was in good condition except for two places where pines had fallen across. One required climbing over the trunk, the other spot had a fairly established little bypass. Nothing too difficult, but could be a problem for stressed-mobility folks. Today, the mosquitos were out, but as long as you stay away from denser vegetation such as young pine thickets, you'll be fine. Even so, we walked through a few intentionally looking for a place to have a nice lunch and the bugs were there, but non aggressive. BEAUTIFUL view and great hike up and back. Worth a revisit!

Sat Apr 11 2015

This trail rocks: it's short, it's easy, low crowd factor, easy parking, there's a lake, and there's a peak to summit. You park right at the trail head and then it's a gradual and easy climb uphill. On the way up you are surrounded by the peaks of the high country (and marmots!) and when you arrive, you get a beautiful lake with Mt. Hoffman long nearby. I went just as the Tioga Pass opened so there was quite a bit of snow, so I suggest waiting a bit longer than opening day to check it out. WARNING: do not swim in the lake! May Lake is the direct water source for that high sierra camp so please don't contaminate it.

Fri Feb 21 2014

THis was one of my favorite short and easy hikes ever!!! The scenery is beautiful, and there is abundant wildlife. We saw lizards, coyotes, a bear, birds, marmots, trout!!! you name it. Great reward for little efforrt. Don't forget the bug spray for the ponds at the parking area. The mosquitos tried to carry me off. I was there in June 2013

Fri Jul 19 2013

We used to do this as a fishing dayhike 20+ years ago, and this was this was the first time I've been back to May Lake since then. It hasn't changed much other than being more crowded. But the fishing is still good once the sun starts to go down, and it's a beautiful hike, and an even more beautiful payoff when you get to the lake. Great backpacking campground if you stay overnight.

Sun Jul 14 2013

Short quick climb up to May Lake from the parking area. Trail is easy to follow and the lake is a nice scenic place for a lunch. The backpacker campground seems like a good spot I'll have to try on a future visit. Swimming/wading in the lake is prohibited due to the lake use as drinking water. Recommend this quick hike for beginners or those short on time.

Sat Sep 29 2012

I hiked this trail on June 26, 2012. The information on this site about the trail length and elevation gain is a little misleading due to the fact that Old Tioga Road to the trailhead parking area was closed to vehicular traffic and looks like it has been for quite some time. We parked near the intersection of Tioga and Old Tioga Roads, and the road up to the trailhead is 1.7 miles in each direction. That brings the total mileage of the hike to about 5.8 miles. Also, we started at about 8200 feet elevation and May Lake is at about 9400 feet, making the elevation gain about 1200 ft. (please correct me if Im wrong; I wasnt carrying a GPS tracker) We had a beautiful day for our hike! The road section was fairly easy, but all uphill. Use caution and start slowly if you have not hiked at this elevation before. The elevation can cause difficulty breathing if youre not used to it. The road parallels a small creek for a while and passes by Mount Hoffmann Meadow. We saw deer, squirrels and a lone coyote along the road as we walked up. In 1.7 miles we reached the trailhead parking area. The trail starts alongside a small pond and winds through forest and over rocks. This section is a bit more difficult and steeper. There is a lodge and camping area at May Lake, and of course, no paved road leading up to it, so supplies are taken up by mule train. Sure enough, we met a mule train coming down the trail as we were hiking up. We encountered a few other hikers with gear for overnight camping at the Lake, but the trail was certainly not crowded and was very peaceful. There are some great views along the way. We could hear the marmots and even saw a couple of them. The lake was a peaceful, serene spot for relaxing and enjoying the scenery and a snack before heading back down. I would definitely hike this trail again; I cant wait to go back!

7 months ago

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