Young Lakes Trail Loop [CLOSED]

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Yosemite National Park

Young Lakes Trail Loop is a 23.3 kilometer moderately trafficked loop 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 March until September.

Distance: 23.3 km Elevation Gain: 776 m Route Type: Loop

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

closed

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. Loop trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Upper Young Lake and return. This is a classic Sierra Nevada high country trek, complete with subalpine forests, exposed granite outcroppings, and pristine glacial cirque lakes. Start the hike from the Lembert Dome parking lot. Follow the dirt road at the west end of the parking lot past the stables to Parson's Lodge. Just north of the lodge you'll pick up the trail to Glen Aulin. Follow that trail for about a mile, then take the signed trail to the right towards Young Lakes. The trail now climbs steadily, though not too steeply, to the intersection with the Dog Lake trail. Continue straight ahead for another mile and a half to lower Young Lake. If you feel adventurous, follow the unsigned use trail from lower Young Lake past middle Young Lake to the breathtaking upper Young Lake. Be advised, the use trail follows the stream between the middle and upper lakes, and includes a short but very steep section. When you're ready to leave, retrace your steps to the Dog Lake trail and follow it back to the trailhead. Note that there are several uphill sections on this trail, the first one (350 ft climb) being the longest. However, you'll be rewarded with absolutely gorgeous views of alpine meadows and stunning panoramas.

hiking
5 months ago

One of the few lakes I have caught multiple fish at within 30 minutes. Watch where you are going once you get to the granite as I got lost with a buddy of mine and ended up pulling the map out to figure out where we went wrong. Good open views during the hike and it was pretty quite once at the lake. It was pretty easy to find seclusion from the other campers.

hiking
8 months ago

The most beautiful trip I have done

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked Young Lakes to Tuolomne Meadows via Glen Aulin on 9/7/19. This route has a consistent mellow decline, with a well marked trail all the way. That being said you will be hiking a consistent uphill all the way if you do this route in reverse. We hiked into Young Lakes via Dog Lake which was a strenuous route. Steep inclines and declines for most of the trail until you meet up with the Glen Aulin trail about 3.3 miles in. Commenting on the route in via dig lake: There was was looks like a usually full stream about half way in and then another about 3/4 of the way through where we filtered water. Pay attention at the first stream! We lost the trail because we started hiking along the stream enjoying its beauty. I believe the trail continues straight across the stream.

hiking
8 months ago

Great semiloop trail. Hiked it clockwise, up from Glen Aulin trailhead by the stables off Lembert Dome parking lot; back via Dog Lake trail. Some decent uphill but not bad going up; 4.5 hrs at a leisurely pace with backpacks and a 12 yr old. I think clockwise is definitely the way to go. Mosquitoes at the lake were not bad at all. No bear trouble either. Most of the campsites are at the lower lake, although there are some on the others. The lakes are beautiful, and there's fairly easy access from the upper lake to the bowl below White Mtn and Mt Conness. Great views of the Cathedral Range from the Dog Lake trail.

hiking
scramble
9 months ago

Hiked loop clockwise yesterday. Started at 8AM and finished at 5PM, leisurely pace with breaks at Lower and Upper Young Lakes and short hike into Dog Lake. Mosquitoes weren’t bad anywhere. A bit of a scramble and bushwhack going up waterfall to Upper Lake but totally worth it. Be prepared for considerable climbing on descent back via Dog Lakes trail. Most of elevation loss seems to be in last miles coming back into Lembert Dome. Glad I had my trekking poles. Beautiful views of Cathedral Range.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Beautiful hike! Stopped at the junction before young lakes to camp. Secluded, creek with fresh water, and less bugs than at young lakes! Great day hike into the lakes (skipped the upper young lake) and had a nice ‘easier’ way back. Was not disappointed!

backpacking
bugs
muddy
10 months ago

Very lush this time of year. Park on left side of Soda Spring Road. Uphill is not too strenuous until right before the last (Upper) lake. Also right after this uphill section by Upper Lake is a bog that has INSANE mosquitos! We literally had to run to get away from them. Make sure (!) to bring big spray, bug net, and covering clothing to protect you from the bugs. Regardless, the scenery is incredibly beautiful!!

10 months ago

Did this hike July 27-29th 2019. Started late around 10am. Really enjoyed this hike, loved the scenery although the mosquitos put a bit of a dampener on the trip, leave the essential oils at home and get some DEET! I would also recommend a face net.

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

Hiked it counter clockwise on July 22nd and 23rd. Too many mosquitoes to enjoy our time at Young Lakes, but the trail is beautiful, with good views on the Yosemite peaks. The trail is now entirely snow free.

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

Trails are in very good condition with only 2 trees to clear. Creeks are easily crossed. Mosquitoes were bad but overcome with spray and bug suits. Some snow off trail at 9500ft in the shady areas.

backpacking
Tue Oct 09 2018

Ideal backpacking trip if you want to take first-timers with you! It was surprisingly cold (October 6th) but seeing the lake surrounded by fresh snow was magical.

hiking
Mon Oct 08 2018

Great hike. Lakes are beautiful. It was very windy at the first, second and third lake. Great in the summer

backpacking
Sun Oct 07 2018

We parked at Lembert Dome trailhead. Make sure you are in the overnight parking area on the gravel road (not the day use lot)! Bear boxes and outhouse available. If it is late in the season be sure to check if parking lots off of Tioga Road (HWY120) are still open for overnight parking (we visited the last weekend with overnight parking off of Tioga - day lots stay open later into the season). Trailhead for Young Lakes via Dog Lake Trail is also located here. Strava clocked us at 8 miles to the third lake (including out and back detour to Dog Lake). 7 miles back to the trailhead on our way out. Elevation gain on hike to the third lake is 2300 ft, gain back to trailhead is 700 ft. There is dispersed camping at all three lakes. First and second lakes are forested/protected. Third lake is an open meadow on the north side of the lake. Watching sunset over the cascading lakes was one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen.

Mon Sep 10 2018

Three of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen. We backpacked in via the glen Aulin trail which is beautiful but that last 1.5 miles to the lake is tough- seemed to take forever. Temperatures are very cold at night so if you camp bring warm clothes (we had frost on our tent on August 29). Our second day we slack packed to the two upper lakes- each more beautiful than the last - don’t miss them, although the trail is hard to find in places. TIP - remember where you entered to the lakes so you find the trail out! The dog lake trail out on day three is strenuous but beautiful- make sure you go to soda springs at the junction near the end or you will end up at the wilderness center. If you start early you can do this hike in one day but you won’t have as much time to enjoy the lakes.

backpacking
Fri Sep 07 2018

Great hike, trail well marked and no snow on trail over Labor Day weekend. Loved the view going on the Dog Lake Trail side. Glen Aulin Trail is good while you are in Tuolumne Meadows IMO, and it’s wooded going towards Young Lakes. At Young Lakes, best campsites appear to be on the north side and northwest side. Beautiful sunrise hitting Ragged Peak. Ranger reported that there is often a bear at Young Lake, we did not see any. Fantastic hike, great for a short trip :)

hiking
Wed Aug 22 2018

Did this hike on 08/19/18 thru 08/21/18 via the Dog Lake Trail and returned via the Glen Aulin. It is a constant climb that can be strenuous at times. Had a little trouble getting acclimated to the altitude. Of course, the return is an easy down hill for the most part. There were 3-4 tents at the lower lake. I stayed at the middle lake and there was only one other group there. Middle Lake is loaded with brook trout, but he upper lake is an anglers paradise. Caught FIFTEEN trout there in under an hour for a total of 23 fish. I used spinner lures. Due to the near by fire, it was not crowded as expected. Plan on doing this again next year.

backpacking
Fri Jul 13 2018

Absolutely LOVED this hike! we love hiking on vacation every year, but being from Florida means that's about the only time we are able to do it. We are not in amazing shape, but not horrible either. I will say that the hike in (via Dog Lake Trail) was pretty intense for us. We were praying for no more uphill climbing & begging for the lake to finally come into view! We still have a hard time believing that the mountain trail distance markers are right...they sure do seem like the longest miles on the face of the planet! Lol We got a pretty late start (about 1pm) so it was a bit hotter than we liked. However, majority of the time there was a nice breeze and the woods kept a nice comfortable temp. I have to say that this was one of the prettiest hikes throughout the entire trail that we have done. Some trails are all about the destination. This one was beautiful the entire time. The destination did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination! The lakes were absolutely breathtaking! I definitely recommend not setting up camp immediately when entering the area around the lake. As tired as we were, we decided to hike around the lake a bit to look for the best spot. We crossed the falling creek about 1/4 of the way around the lake and found "the perfect" hard spot just up in the trees. Nobody else camped on that side of the creek. So we were pretty much all by ourselves over there with the sound of the waterfalls on the creek to lull us to sleep at night. We also had our own flat rock on the lake to go sit out on every night and every morning. Couldn't have asked for a better more tranquil setting! Then the hike up to the 2 other upper lakes was just as if not more awe inspiring than the 1st lake! The hike out via Glen Aulin trail was a very gradual decent and very picturesque as well. We spent 3 days total...Day 1 (started super late) hiked in from 1pm - 5pm then set up camp & just enjoyed the area. Day 2 we hiked up to the upper lakes from about 8am until about 3pm. Did some fishing back at the bottom lake & just relaxed rest of the day. Day 3 we packed up and headed out about 8am and arrived at our car at 11:30am. Absolutely the most peaceful and relaxing backpacking trip we have ever done! Well worth the work!

backpacking
Tue Oct 10 2017

This was an amazing trip! It's high altitude (9800 feet), so expect a few breaks on your way up if you're backpacking in. The views are completely stunning; I uploaded a few photos. The fishing is also pretty good. I caught several brook trout using a yellow rooster tail. Definitely one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done. I ended up spending two nights in a hammock up there. The nights get below freezing in October...so wear clothes.

backpacking
Wed Sep 06 2017

I did this loop in the opposite direction (starting at Young Lakes via Dog Lake and finishing via Glen Aulin). With a pack, the initial ascent is steep and tough, but it's worth it for the views at Young Lakes. The lowest of the lakes makes for stunning sunrises/sunsets and there's good campsites on the north side of the lake (and good water in the creek that flows down from the lake). Also well worth a hike to the highest lake, which is very pretty (the middle lake is comparatively unremarkable).

backpacking
Tue Aug 29 2017

I may be a bit biased as this trip was my first time in Yosemite and I was completely awe struck by the beauty all around me. But for my first solo backpacking trip I couldn't have picked a better loop. The meadows and alpine forests are breathtaking and the lakes themselves are gorgeous. I'd highly recommend making the scramble up the waterfall to Upper Young Lake, one of the best sunsets I have ever seen!

Thu Aug 03 2017

Beautiful, great views.

hiking
Mon May 11 2015

This was my first backpacking experience with my father, and where he taught me to fly fish. That trip our family camped at the lower lake. I have gone back to Young Lakes at least five times, solo, with high school friends, again with my father, with an employee and his son, and with my own son. I prefer camping at the highest lake, with its clear vistas. It really is one of the beautiful spots in Yosemite, and a great starting point for ascending Mt. Conness. You can also make a loop by hiking to Roosevelt Lake, crossing the north pass to Upper McCabe Lake (descent is a bit steep), and picking up the PCT back to Tuolumne, which goes past Tuolumne Falls. Climbing North Peak on the way to Upper McCabe is definitely worth it. I prefer starting on the trail that goes past Dog Lake. An extra 400 feet of climbing, offset by less mileage. Good water usually at the Dingley Creek Crossing and a beautiful meadow. Great high meadows and superior views of the Cathedral Range when crossing the high shoulder.

camping
Tue Mar 10 2015

I backpack to Young lake, it is a HARD hike. Getting up there was a battle but I'm glad I did it, stay 2 nights and fished. The lake and the surrounding mountain make you feel like you went back in time. For 2 days we didn't see or hear another person, it was us and mother nature and she was beautiful. I've since been back 2x and each time I fall deeper and deeper in love with Yosemite and all it's beauty.

hiking
Mon Aug 06 2012

A 7 hour, 14 mile challenging hike but worth every bit of the effort, beautiful meadows, clear streams, breath taking lake surrounded by rugged mountain terrain...

hiking
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