May Lake

EASY 10 reviews
#59 of 166 trails in

May Lake is a 6.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near White Wolf, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
6.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1017 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

no dogs

An easy day hike or overnighter to a popular and beautiful subalpine lake. The hike to May Lake is a bit of the essence of Yosemite -- expansive views over granite peaks, a sparkling blue lake set below 10,000' Mount Hoffmann, a subalpine forest, and, well, other people. This is not where you go for a solitary backcountry escape - but it is a delightful and beautiful place to take someone for their first backpacking trip or just an enjoyable day hike. This route, the shortest way to May Lake, starts at the Snow Flat trailhead which is reached via a rough, narrow, but paved road off the Tioga Road. There is a vault toilet and bear boxes here, but limited parking. The trail moves upwards, slowly at first, but with a steadily greater incline until you hit a few switchbacks. Stop on the way and make sure to check out the views - they're great! At the top of the hill - just off the trail is a ridge with an excellent view and a great place to stop for a snack - the trail levels out again and quickly reaches the May Lake Backpacking Camp. There are bear boxes, a water spigot, and a flush toilet (!) here, and campsites all along the southeastern shore. The May Lake High Sierra Camp is along the northern end of the lake. There is a good use trail following the southern shore that, if you follow it long enough and high enough, will take you to the summit of 10,850' Mount Hoffmann, near the geographic center of Yosemite and with great views in all directions.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

such a memorable spot (mosquitos and all). time and weather permitting, we unfortunately didn't summit the top of mt. hoffmann so in lieu of, ended up rock scrambling which was super fun... like an adult playground!! lol

3 months ago

The access road to the trail head is not open as of 25 July. Add 4.2 miles round-trip to this hike because you have to start down at Tioga Pass Road.

Friday, August 26, 2016

hiking
Saturday, August 06, 2016

hiking
Thursday, July 21, 2016

Very beautiful lake. wanted to continue on to Mt Hoffman Summit but snow obscured the trail early on and wasn't sure conditions. but well worth the hike upto May Lake

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

hiking
Monday, July 11, 2016

Great trail to a beautiful alpine lake. It took us about an hour to complete. Not a difficult climb and not bad on the knees going down. Cool view of Half Dome as well. The 2 mile road that leads to the small parking lot has a lot of potholes. It's also a one lane road.

hiking
Saturday, September 26, 2015

Yosemite National Park is often called a hiker’s paradise as it features over 800 miles of hiking trails. Often the biggest challenge is figuring out which trail to explore. If you don’t have the time to take on one of the park’s longer hikes, but still want a moderately challenging day hike that showcases some of Yosemite’s unique beauty, this is an excellent choice.

At 2.4 miles up-and-back, the May Lake trail is just the right length for those on a tighter schedule who only have a couple of hours set aside for a hike. And since it’s located off the Tioga Pass (in the general vicinity of Olmstead Point), it tends to be much less crowded than the trails originating in Yosemite Valley.

The turnoff to the trailhead is well-marked and easy to see (as long as you’re not speeding along the Pass), and from the turnoff you will enter a one-lane road that will take you up to the May Lake trailhead. There are vault toilets located at the trailhead and there are flush toilets at May Lake.

The trail itself is a steady 500-foot climb in the shadow of Mt. Hoffmann through that stunning combination of evergreen trees and granite that is Yosemite’s hallmark. There are several points where you will be walking on either granite or decomposed granite which can make for slippery footing, so proper hiking footwear is strongly recommended. Be sure to stop a couple of times to take it the beautiful vistas from the granite cliffs, including an interesting view of Half Dome. At this point you’ll probably want to stop anyway to gulp some air due to the elevation – the trailhead starts at just over 8,700 feet.

May Lake itself is a fine payoff to the ascent; it’s a pristine mountain lake framed by evergreen trees and Mt. Hoffmann. From this point, the ambitious can continue and climb another 1,500 feet to ascend Mt. Hoffmann. Or, you can be like us and pause to enjoy the beauty and serenity of May Lake before venturing back down the trail to seek out yet another Yosemite adventure.