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Young Lakes Trail Loop is a 14.5 mile 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.

Length 14.5 mi Elevation gain 2,545 ft Route type Loop
Backpacking Hiking Nature trips Walking Bird watching Running Forest Lake Views Wild flowers Wildlife Bugs Fee No dogs
Description
Waypoints (12)
Tips

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.

The best time for this trip is late August or September. No bugs, cooler temps, and fewer thunderstorms.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (93)
Photos (595)
Recordings (73)
Completed (183)
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Chris Cuppoletti
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 9, 2020
Backpacking

Tough! Would be much better to make it an overnight. Absolutely must go clockwise

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Wayne Bair
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 25, 2020
Hiking
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Dessa M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 3, 2020

Bring more water than you think you need, lots of sunscreen, and if you think you're there, keep going. You're not. But in all seriousness, this was a beautiful hike. I recommend doing it clockwise since it is more of a gradual incline rather than leaving from Dog Lake which is very steep. We saw maybe 3 other hikers on our way up. 10ish other people at the lake, and no people on the way back down. My friend and I did it in about 7.5 hours with lots of stops. The mountain, lake, and meadow views are gorgeous and make the hike worth it. Just a tip: look for other people's footprints on the trail. There are certain parts that are not well marked at all so we ended up needing to back track a couple times. Following footprints really helps!

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Danielle Mumford
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 22, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

Beautiful trail! Lots of incline leaving from Glen Aulin but it’s still less of a grade than leaving via Dog Lake. Next time I’ll do the summit.

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Mitchell Mysliwiec
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 19, 2020
Hiking

Go when there are not wildfires

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George Langstaff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 2, 2020
HikingBugs

After setting up camp at Lower Young Lake and resting for a bit, we took a nice hike up to the upper two lakes. There is a very nice waterfall between the middle and upper lake. Upper lake was breathtaking but mosquitoes made sure we didn’t hang around for too long.

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George Langstaff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 2, 2020
Backpacking

Great trail and would highly recommend. Glad we went via Glen Aulin to Young Lakes first and then returned via Dog Lake trail. We stayed at Lower lake because mosquitos were out at the higher lakes.

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Dan A
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 29, 2020
Backpacking

Awesome trail. Absolutely beautiful. We took our time on this one since we were hiking with our kids, ages: 1, 4, 7. This was a bit of a stretch for our 4 year old, but he made it. I really wouldn’t recommend it for families with kids under the age of 8. The lake was beautiful especially in the morning watching the sun rise over the mountains. It was magical. If you have a heavy pack it’s quite a hike. I’m in average shape, and had to take lots of breaks, but that could be because my pack weighed in at 55lbs, packing for all the fam. It did dip to freezing at night so definitely pack a warm sleeping pad and bag, we were fine in our 20 degrees bags. We had no bug problems this time of the year at the lower lakes. We didn’t see any bears or anything. Overall great hike. We did the clockwise loop, finishing the dog lake route, and we’re happy with that since it looked like dog lake was a lot steeper.

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jonathan pierce
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 1, 2019
Hiking

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.

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Nick Saso
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 13, 2019
Hiking

The most beautiful trip I have done

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Parker Goddard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 7, 2019
Hiking

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.

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Bob McKinsey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 31, 2019
Hiking

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.

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Marilyn Toscano
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 25, 2019
HikingScramble

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.

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Elizabeth Oliver
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 1, 2019
HikingBugs

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!

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Melissa Mogensen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 27, 2019
BackpackingBugsMuddy

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!!

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Hector Rios
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 27, 2019

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.

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Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 25, 2019
HikingBugs

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.

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Steve Iverson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 25, 2019
HikingBugs

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.

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Lia Landrill
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 9, 2018
Backpacking

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.

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Oliver Payne
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 8, 2018
Hiking

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

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Kendra+Jeff Cobourn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 7, 2018
Backpacking

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.

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MARY J
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 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.

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David Weller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 7, 2018
Backpacking

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 :)

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Pete Gomez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 22, 2018
Hiking

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.

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Amber Gaughf Rhoads
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 13, 2018
Backpacking

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!

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Steve Austin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 10, 2017
Backpacking

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.

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Steven Ross
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 6, 2017
Backpacking

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).

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Justin James
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 29, 2017
Backpacking

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!

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Jeremy Rice
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 3, 2017

Beautiful, great views.

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