The greatest hike out of Yosemite valley?
Dean Read · Chesterfield. United Kingdom · May 13, 2019
We hiked to the top of Cloud's Rest from the valley in early May 2019, it was such an amazing experience but definitely not for the fainthearted. There was lots of snow left above 8,000 feet which made navigation tricky, we took a bearing and headed straight for the summit. It was a hard slog but we were rewarded with fantastic views and a huge sense of achievement. It took just over 11 hours up/down but definitely worth it if you are in Yosemite when Tioga pass is closed.
Connor · Los Angeles · October 3, 2018
A friend and I hiked starting at Sunrise Lakes and finishing in the valley via the Mist Trail. Coming up and over Clouds Rests spine is one of the best views I've seen in a national park and I prefer it to the view from Half Dome. Luckily for us we got Half Dome permits (first come first serve) so we camped in along the JMT under Clouds Rest.
We did the hike after the hikers shuttle stopped running (we didn't know this until we got into the valley) so we hitched a ride on the YART bus going out the eastern exit. Dropped us off and we paid something like $7...incredible
Eric · Washington DC area · June 23, 2018
We did this hike on the last day of our visit to Yosemite. We had acclimated to the altitude by then so that made it not as difficult as it would’ve been otherwise. Still, towards the summit, the air gets thin and climbing is a little bit more of a struggle. We left on the hike at 6 AM, which worked out really well, because we had the trail to ourselves during the heat on the ascent. Some of the hike is exposed to the sun. I was very worried about the summit reading the reviews online and looking at videos. However, it is not as narrow as described, and we felt very comfortable walking out to the peak. The views are truly amazing. 360° spectacular scenery. Save some energy for the descent. Highly recommend.
Alberto Cabrera · San Diego · May 30, 2018
Camping at the top of Clouds Rest was one of my best camping experiences ever. My party hiked from Devils Postpile down to the Yosemite Valley. We lucked out with a clear calm night. It would probably be a bad idea in bad weather.
There is no water, so make sure you prepare properly.
SPECTACULAR and well worth the miles!!
Sue · Medina, Ohio · April 8, 2018
Although I trained for this, I wasn't in the best of shape. I'm also in my 50s. I was hiking 2-3 times/month (between 5-10 miles each hike).
The switchbacks in mile two were tough but not as bad as I had mentally prepared for (I think I counted 45 switchbacks... lol). The final climb to the ridge was exhausting but manageable with short breaks. The ridge was exhilarating and scary. Incredible views!
Loved it so much I'm returning this fall with two friends for a "girls trip"... except this time we're backpacking from Tuolumne Meadows down to the valley (via both Clouds Rest and Half Dome). I'll be spending my 52nd birthday on top of Half Dome.
Marco · Croatia · October 16, 2017
Don't be discouraged by the previous reviews -- the trail is tough but manageable even if you're not in a top shape. It took us about 7 hours with 45 minutes rest on the top and we're average guys. We went there in mid-October. There was no snow on the trail, but some at the side. Of course be sure to start the hike early in the morning and bring enough water with you (~gallon per person).
The most difficult part of the trail comes around 1.5 miles in and it's a pretty long climb up the granite stairs. Other than that the trail is not too demanding but it is quite long. Definitely worth it though.
Memorable & Breathtaking
Michelle · Manteca · August 30, 2017
I love hiking and CR was def one of the top destinations on my hiking wishlist. I was hesitant at first since I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to complete this hike (14.5 seems pretty daunting). I read all the reviews on here and If you were scared like me, you shouldn't be! I never go to the gym and this hike wasn't as tough as I previously believed. I packed very light using just a drawstring bag carrying lunch for the summit, snacks, and 2.5L of water. Packing light made ALL the difference. Make sure to leave early, this is imperative! Check the weather too, it was sunny all throughout our hike and we didn't check what the forecast would be for the later parts of the day. It started raining with thunderstorms (thankfully we were almost back)! Don't want to be caught slipping on the staircases, so don't spend too much time at the summit!
Here's what to expect:
- The first mile and a half is a brisk walk in the park. After that, you'll reach the granite staircases, which seem to go on for eternity. The switchbacks will last for a mile and you'll gain a thousand feet in elevation. If you can conquer this part you can do the whole hike.
- After the switchbacks, you'll bear right at the first junction and descend for a nice .05 decline.
- this part of the hike is steady, you'll be hiking through gorgeous meadows and streams. Inclines and declines but nothing too crazy. After traveling for a while you'll reach a beautiful and peaceful lake which indicates that you have 3.5 miles left.
- bear right @ last junction. The hike in between the last junction and the summit was a bit challenging due to some fatigue and incline. However, with breaks you should be alright.
~~~~~ Stick to the left side at the summit if you're afraid of heights and the ridge/spine.
However, take some breaks and enjoy the beautiful views behind you (they should be motivation enough to continue). From the top of the switchbacks you'll bear right at the first junction and descend for a nice .05 mile decline.
Erica · Akron, Ohio · August 18, 2017
My husband and I had the privilege of tackling this hike! We only had a week and a half to do research to prepare, and this site was a HUGE help! We looked through the list of hikes and chose the most difficult rating and the hikes with the best view and this is the one we did. My husband and I are not in the world's best shape, but we are stubborn and determined -- and accomplished this hike! I cannot put in words how amazing the views are through this hike! We were never disappointed at any time during our hike (there were times we did get very winded and tired), but never disappointed! The hike took us longer than anticipated, but we did spend a lot of time looking at the amazing scenery since we are from flat lands! If you have any reservations about this hike, just do it... take lots of water and push through, it is beyond worth it! We had an amazing time and can't wait to go back!
Gorgeous but wait for August
Olivia · Fresno · July 4, 2017
Went on this hike last weekend (7/2017) -- stunning! Views were well worth it. Tons of snow still on the trail, which was fun and hard and rather dangerous. You need good navigational skills, GPS and map in order not to lose the trail under all the snow and snowmelt. Got lost several times -- good reminder to always be prepared to get stuck after dark. Overall, I would make sure Tioga Pass has been open for at least a few weeks before trying unless you are used to trailblazing.
To the Clouds and back...No words or Pictures...
John Molla · Yorba Linda, CA · June 27, 2016
Anybody who has ever experienced Yosemite knows that no pictures you take or words you speak can do this ridiculously majestic place justice. That being said, I will try.
My June 24, 2016 hike, 48, with my oldest son, 20, and youngest son, 13, to Clouds Rest from Happy Isles and back in 12 hours was no different. To do this hike, in this direction and back, as a day hike is no joke. You will be exhausted...BUT the adventure is, as it always is in Yosemite, more than worth it. To experience the view and appreciate and enjoy the accomplishment at the top of the world with your kids...there just are no words. If you are contemplating this hike and you are fit, do it! You will not be disappointed. We did the Mist Trail up and the John Muir down and that was a great choice.
Once we turned for the final 3.8 miles on the Clouds Rest trail, yes this portion is very much straight up hill as it appears the trail makers were tired of switch backs and just decided to go straight up the hill, we only encountered 5 other humans and only 2 of those went all the way to the top to enjoy the view with us. In other words, alone to enjoy this incredible wild playground. There were of course about 20 others that were at the top that had come from The Tenaya Lake side. The most lasting images for me are the incredible deep blue color of Tenaya Lake and the experience of actually looking DOWN on the all mighty Half Dome. A sight I will never forget. My family and I have been to the top of Half Dome twice, and have done many other of the great Yosemite Hikes too, and we were more moved by this view and more exhausted at the end of the day by this hike. In terms of sheer accomplishement and view I would actually prefer Clouds Rest over Half Dome. I can't wait to do it again!
Clouds Rest From The Valley
Kathryn Hannaford · Sacramento, CA · March 8, 2016
My son and I hiked/jogged the trail to Clouds Rest from Happy Isles a few years ago. What a great day! We did the round-trip in eight hours. The only sketchy part for me was the last climb up to the summit where we had to do some rock-scrambling. I got scared and thought maybe I wouldn't do the last push, but my son wouldn't have any of it, and after sitting down and thinking it over for a few minutes, I mustered my resolve and climbed up. I was overwhelmed by Tenaya Canyon as I am always enthralled by Yosemite.
Clouds Rest with family and friends
Jim S · South San Francisco CA · October 8, 2015
Hiked from Sunrise Trailhead to Clouds Rest on Oct 2nd, two days after my 62nd B-Day, with three of my grown children, my son in law, my son's two college buddies, and a close lifelong friend who just turned 60.
The hike starts out easy on a soft path for the first couple of miles, then comes the hard part of the hike. For the next 1+1/2 miles you gain around 1800 lung busting feet to the top of the Sunrise Trailhead junction. The kids were ok with me taking my time on this steep part of the hike, much appreciated. From the junction you get to cruise downhill for a while, which was just what the Dr. ordered, but in the back of my mind I knew this nice descent would be hard on the way back. The hike levels out with a few ups and downs for the next three miles or so. This part is through a nice forest with a beautiful high mountain lake and a couple of creeks. The temp was mid 60s, clear skies, with a nice breeze that helped keep us cool.
From here the views begin to open up as you approach the ascent to Clouds Rest. To me, this was the best part of the hike. The dirt trail gives way to to the rocky steps at the bottom of the spine that reminded me of the Half Dome hike before you get to the cables that I had hiked 7 years earlier. After getting through this 1st part, the climb gets narrow and I was getting a little winded, so I took my time getting to the final part of the climb. From here on out the top of the ridge and the slight downhill descent was spectacular. It gets a little dicey along the top ridge but I never felt danger. At this point you get a breathtaking 360-degree view of Tenaya, Tenaya Canyon, Yosemite Valley, North Dome, El Capitan, and Half Dome. I had that same exhilarating feeling that I had on the Half Dome hike and a great feeling of accomplishment that we all shared at the top.
Some of the group stayed behind but ended up going all the way and they were happy that they did. Took some great pics and vids all along the way.The return was hard, especially before the final descent. Absolutely awesome epic hike for me, a bucket list hike that I probably won't do again, but so glad I did. All of the group loved the hike and we'll all treasure the memories of that great day. The hike took us around 7+1/2 hours and we spent around an hour at the top. Went through around 100 oz of water and had a nice lunch. All in all a fabulous hike.
If I can make it, you probably can as well
Tracy · Sacramento · July 6, 2015
When I read about this hike I was very excited about the possibility of a day long hike with my family (12 year old daughter, 15 year old son, 45 year old husband) that would end in views to rival Half Dome (which was completely outside my comfort zone). But I am a 44 year old overweight woman who is clumsy and afraid of heights, so I definitely had a lot of anxiety leading up to the hike (and I will just confess that I only made it halfway across the foot path at the very end -- there were amazing views from there and my stomach was in knots and I just did not want to throw up going across the last 100 feet or so to the higher summit but I know I could have if I had wanted to). While my shape is pear like and less than ideal, I am a regular exerciser, so I am not advising folks who don\'t exercise at all to take a 14 mile hike, but I was able to haul myself up the admittedly challenging switchbacks (huffing and puffing and resting along the way) with no side effects the next day. And the hike itself was so beautiful and varied -- the first part it felt like a primeval forest or something, and then there was a sweet and peaceful pond, and then this weird boulder-scape and then amazing views of the valley and Tenaya Lake. We did work our way up to this hike (it was our 4th hike of the trip and each one helped us to acclimate to climbing and altitude) but we all thought it was the highlight and would highly recommend it. And for the foot path -- it is definitely wide enough, but you are kind of scrambling over big granite boulders that are smooth. If you are at all careful there is really no risk of falling, BUT if you, get a little dizzy when you can see dramatic drops all around you, you just might want to skip this part, and you will still enjoy the hike.
Amazing hike, but this site's review leaves out a few things...
Robb · Pasadena, CA · July 6, 2015
I did the hike (starting from Tenaya Lake/Sunrise Trailhead) on July 4th, and how appropriate that the elevation difference is 1776 feet! Despite the holiday, there was plenty of roadside parking by the trailhead when we arrived around 8:30am.
However, the elevation listed on the site review doesn't take into the account the 300 or so feet that you lose and then gain back again in the middle section. So you're really climbing over 2000 feet.
The site also fails to mention the gorgeous flora along the hike, particularly that middle section (the 2.2 miles after the Sunrise trail split)... the forest seemed simply magical, and then you encounter this small lake that just appears out of nowhere, seemingly. And wildflowers everywhere, although that might just be because of the time of year. But there are also mosquitoes. So be prepared with insect repellent.
That thousand-foot switchback climb starting 1.5 miles in was the most difficult part of the hike, so if you can finish that, the rest isn't too bad. The climb in the last mile to the summit seemed practically easy in comparison.
If you're not used to higher elevations, I strongly recommend not attempting this hike until you've had at least 24 hours acclimating to the altitude. We were staying at Tuolumne Meadows, and the day before we attempted Cloud's Rest, we hiked up to Dog Lake and could really feel the effects of the thinner air. But I guess all we needed was some time to adjust, because our Cloud's Rest hike didn't seem as bad on the lungs.
When we got to the summit, there were maybe 30-40 others up there, being a holiday weekend and all. But while we did encounter many other groups on the hike, I wouldn't call the trail crowded at all.
Heading back, the toughest parts were the 300-foot climb to the Sunrise trail split, and the same 1000-foot switchback that was tough going up in the beginning was also tough going down... my legs were really feeling those rocks pounding my feet.
It took us about 7.5 hours total, including lots of water/rest/photo breaks and probably 45 minutes or so at the summit.
Best Hike in Yosemite!!!
Gary · Los Angels · March 11, 2015
Written some time in the 1980's?
In the summer of 1986 I made my first trip to Yosemite National Park. It was one of three consecutive summer vacations there. As the last two years have unfolded, I found myself eager to return to this, as the Los Angeles Times called Yosemite on its 75th birthday, “Crown Jewel of the National Park system.” The week following Labor Day marked my fourth visit to Yosemite.
My eagerness to return to the park was prompted by a former co-worker, Melissa, who showed me a photograph she had taken a few years ago. When we look at a 35mm photograph, it seems they can never quite capture the awe-inspiring landscape that can lay before a camera’s lens. But this photo was pure magic. I was eager to ascend this summit from the moment I laid eyes on this rare image. The summit’s name was eloquent, Clouds Rest, a place where a cloud could rest when weary from its long journey.
The hike was to take place on one of the first four days of a six-day trip, as my friend Mitch and his girlfriend Joyce could accompany me only on those first four days. We were looking forward to making the hike together. When I inquired about the hike, people gave mixed reviews about the degree of difficulty and amount of time to make the summit. We decided to hike to Clouds Rest on Sunday, the third day of our stay. Sunday arrived in all its glory, including 28-degree weather with hail and snow. The weather cautioned us against the ascent, as lightning strikes and cold temperatures presented risks from exposure.
Since Mitch and Joyce were returning home on Monday, their six-hour drive home would not allow us to make the hike together. We spent their final day enjoying each others company while browsing through books at the Visitor Center. I hoped for good weather on Tuesday and would make the hike by myself. Tuesday morning was brisk in the high country when I had awaken from my sleep, about thirty degrees. Not wanting to leave the warmth of my sleeping bag, I overslept, arriving at the trailhead at nine o’clock that morning. It was disappointing not having the company of my friends to share the hike with, and hiking alone was against all my training…but Melissa’s photo would not allow me to miss this opportunity.
When querying various people on estimates for the amount of time required to mount the summit, the estimates ranged from three to seven hours. I decided to bring my watch on the hike for fear of running out of daylight and being exposed to the elements. My watch normally rests on the stick shift of my car, allowing me to make timely appointments at home. I would allow five or six hours to venture into the backcountry. If I did not make the summit within that time frame; a swift return would be in order to avoid the possibility of exposure as I was equipped for only a day hike. Shortly after leaving the trailhead I found myself reflecting upon the previous evening, in particular, a comment that was made by on of the park rangers.
When I asked this ranger if she had been to Clouds Rest, she responded, “I was there last week,” expressing that she was proud the ascent had taken only four and one half-hours. That if I average two miles per hour, I would be able to make a day hike out of the ascent. With so many conflicting reports about the time required to reach the summit, I was aggressive with my mount. The first bifurcation in the trail marked the end of the most difficult section. I noticed that these first two and a half miles were covered in one hour and five minutes. Much to my surprise the ascent was not as time consuming as many led me to believe. Although, if you attempt this hike, the ratings of “very strenuous” in hiking guidebooks are apropos. Especially during the first 2 and 3 miles out of Tenaya Lake. Nevertheless, I was relieved that I would not lose daylight and could complete the hike. I pressed onward. About a half-hour later I encountered a group of four or five backpackers breaking camp and asked where they were off to? They said, “Cloud’s Rest.” I told them I was doing the same and we expressed a desire to meet and share the summit. I was off without further human encounter during the ascent.
The trail was of mixed terrain. For the most part forest, but meadow and exposed granite prevailed at times. About seven miles into the eight mile hike I encountered one of my life's most memorable experiences. The beginning of the hike gave a westerly view, but after a period of time the trail descended to the east, obstructing the western exposure. The easterly perspective was also beautiful. Much elevation was gained as the trail proceeded for a duration on the eastern side. As the trail finally traversed to the west again, I came atop this location of the hike. An awe inspiring experience was the product of my gaze.
Exposed, atop this crest of the trail, the majestic Tenaya Canyon lay beneath me. As I approached the edge of this magnificent granite face, I was stunned by the awesome sight that lay before my eyes. My breathing began to accelerate and my legs became weak. My soul was filled with emotion and my eyes with tears. For a few moments fear became my traveling companion as I was overcome by the calm explosive energy beneath me - able to take a life without expending an erg. A few minutes passed before this sudden fire storm of emotion cooled within me. As I began to relax again, I removed my camera from my daypack and began to study the earth's form. The view was exquisite.
While making a number of exposures I became absorbed in the beauty of the landscape. There was a great feeling of connectedness to the Earth. This is the fundamental force that gives all of us life. Among the many thoughts and emotions that were going through my mind, one was particularly perplexing. That some individuals if given the opportunity, would "develop" this area, or exploit this natural wonder for less precious resources, that perhaps other places of such beauty fell to lesser fate. I wished that all people could live with a similar memory in one's mind, a sight of such inexplicable beauty and power. I could not help but ponder what it would be like to scale the face of El Capitan, or I should say, I tried to imagine! Not to my credit, in general, I find it difficult to cry. It was so spontaneous that I began to do so upon that beautiful peak. I was embarrassed in front of myself and contained my tears.
After finishing my photographs, I continued to the summit with renewed energy, arriving after only three hours total on the trail. The last few hundred feet to the summit were strenuous, but I was greeted by three hundred and sixty degrees of breath taking panoramic beauty. Half Dome lay before me, much lower, off in the distance to the south. I peered through the Valley of the Yosemite with North Dome, El Cap, Glacier Point and many other familiar peaks off in the distance. To the north I could see Mount Dana, Hoffman, Cathedral and Unicorn peaks; and the beauty of Tenaya Lake lay in the distance at the trail head. Many peaks and familiar points were viewed. But one must see this for themselves. Not necessarily this view, but one of beauty and majesty to suit the individual, a sight that stirs the soul.
About forty minutes into my two-hour stay at the top, after exposing a couple of rolls of film, I was feeling the hunger pains of my energy depleted body. Suddenly, two young men came over the crest of the north end of the summit. The first gentlemen approached me, Ted, leaving his friend David at the opposite end of the summit. David was too frightened to make his way across. Ted and I shared our common experiences of the hike, including where we came across the crest of the trail about an hour ago. The area I spoke of above Tenaya Canyon. It was great to hear that someone else felt the same way at that moment on the hike. Ted said that his legs became weak and he was filled with fear as he traversed the summit's back. After taking in the view from the south, we finished acquainting ourselves and joined David, about fifty yards north of us.
The three of us exchanged cameras and took pictures of each other upon the summit, then we broke out our well-earned lunch. Here I was…on this beautiful day, atop this spectacular 11,000-foot peak, eight miles back in Yosemite National Park. White and grey plumes of wind swept air cascaded across the horizon as I gaped into a continuum of nature's perfect beauty. Surely, a bit of heaven! Incidentally, Ted's friend David, who was initially fearful to traverse the summit, through a little coaxing after lunch continued over the top. He was happy we encouraged him to do so, as the view from the south end was well worth the effort. Just before Ted, David and I were to begin our descent, the party of backpackers that I saw earlier were coming atop the summit.
You could see it in their eyes, they were as moved as we were. After a brief greeting we were off for our return trip. The descent was mild to moderately strenuous, a two and a half-hour trek back to our cars at the trailhead near Tenaya Lake. The hike was an experience I will never forget, one that will encourage me to venture out to those highest peaks within my physical capabilities for the rest of my life. If you have not taken part in such an adventure, I can only encourage you to do so at least once. I can not imagine having never experienced a similar sight in one's lifetime.
After returning home, while relaxing at a local coffee house in Santa Monica a few days after the trip, I was reading from "Yosemite and The Range of Light". One of Ansel Adams books of photography. I came across a particularly moving passage in the book. Reading this transported me back in time to that moving experience on the crest of the trail above Tenaya Canyon.
In this particular passage a gentleman by the name of Paul Brooks was providing a narrative of some of the history of Yosemite. He wrote about a young state militia person by the name of Lafayette Bunnell, "on a punitive expedition in 1851 against the Indians who were harassing the prospectors in the foothills.” In his discovery of Yosemite, Bunnell recorded his initial impressions with unmilitary sensitivity; "The grandeur of the scene was softened by the haze that hung over the valley - light as gossamer - and by the clouds which partially dimmed the higher cliffs and mountains. This obscurity of vision but increased the awe with which I beheld it, and as I looked, a peculiar exhausted sensation seemed to fill my whole being, and I found my eyes in tears with emotion."
If two people felt this feeling of awe, two million are capable – and I’m grateful to have been one. It was apropos I should come across this portion of a book I have owned for several years…perhaps I was destined to see it now, a capstone to the experience.
Take Your Time
Kevin · Canada · October 20, 2014
We did this hike as a family this past August. When we got to walking the ridge, the parents decided that was far enough for them. So, my brother and I left them and cautiously went over. However, by the time we got back, had lunch, and started heading back down, our Dad decided he had finally gotten comfortable enough with the heights and wanted to head over. We took him over and he was very glad he made the trip, although he found the short journey just as scary as we had.
For anyone who thinks they might find the heights too much to handle at the ridge, try spending some time there near the top getting accustomed to it and building up your confidence first. Then try heading over. I must admit, even my brother and I weren't being very brave heading across the ridge the first time, but heading back we were much more confident (and standing much taller...literally).
Good group hike
Melanie · Walnut Creek · August 28, 2014
I have done this hike 3 different times. I have gone in July, August, and September. All three times the weather and conditions have been great. I recommend that you get an early start, especially if going later in the season, so that you are not coming down in the dark. Also the "Spine" can be a little overwhelming, but it is very doable. This is a good hike if going with a large group as there is ample space on the trails to keep your group together. There are a lot of good areas just to relax, eat, and take pictures as well.
One tough hike from the valley
Satish · Sunnyvale · August 10, 2014
We hiked up to the Clouds Rest summit from the Curry Village trailhead yesterday. This was definitely a difficult hike, but the views once you cross the tree line were definitely worth it. Clouds Rest seemed to have a kind of central position in the park and gives you amazing panoramic views of the entire valley.
As for the hike itself, we started fairly early at 5:10 AM and reached the summit at 11:30 AM. This was the first time I was doing a day hike this long and at this altitude. I had done Half Dome before, but that was while camping overnight at the little yosemite valley campground. The way back from the summit to the valley was way more challenging. The trail just never seemed to end. We finally got back to our car at 5:00 PM, we took a lot of breaks for food and refilling water on our way back.
Some suggestions for the hike :
1. Be prepared for a long and strenuous hike, especially after the Clouds Rest trail splits from the JMT, it is just a relentless climb.
2. Carry lots of water and food/electrolytes.
3. Start early if possible, we would have definitely found it much more difficult if we had to hike this during the mid-day.
4. Take breaks and pace yourself well, especially if you are not used to long hikes and altitude.
Fantastic Hike - not as difficult as advertised!
Yann · San Francisco · July 9, 2014
This was truly an unbelievable hike - the views at the summit are amazing. The stillness is mesmerizing as well.
Just wanted to point out that this is not as difficult of a hike as advertised by others here. I am 26 years old, not particularly fit, but determined, and went from the Sunrise Parking Lot to summit in 2.5 hours, and back down in 2. At a more leisurely pace I think it's definitely doable in 6 with 20 minutes at the top.
Either way - well worth the trip and and the challenge on that first set of staircases!
Yosemite Valley Floor to Clouds Rest Day Hike
Dean · San Diego, CA · July 6, 2014
I tried and tried to get a Half Dome day permit through the daily lottery, since I didn't even realize Half Dome needed a permit until I decided to come to Yosemite in late May. When I didn't get it for the 2 days that I was scheduled to be in Yosemite (July 4th weekend, 2014), I figured I would do most of the half dome trails and then just continue onto Clouds Rest.
I learned a lot of things the hard way. First, I stayed in Mariposa. It's hard for me to plan leave, but there were only about 1 or 2 hotels left in Mariposa by late May and none of the hotels left were closer. That meant an hour plus drive for me to get to Curry Village where I parked. 2nd lesson - at 5:45AM, you can park at the trailhead parking, still plenty of space even on a July 5th Saturday. Instead, I parked a good mile further right at the main intersection and curry village rec area.
My official start time was 6:10AM when I saw the sign for the High Sierra Loop Trail and all the mileage markers. I made quick time getting to Vernal falls and hooked left onto the Mist trail for the way up. The steps up Vernal were no joke as I got winded for the first time while moving briskly up the steps. Getting through Nevada Falls was less strenuous, and by 7:30 I had reached the top of Nevada Falls where the JMT meets back up.
As most people know and have hiked the next 2.5 miles to Half Dome, I'll fast forward to the fork where Half Dome goes left and there's another 4.3 to Clouds Rest. From the fork, it's another half mile before you see another sign and the JMT continues right while the sign for Clouds Rest and Tenaya Lake fork to the left. The next 1-1.5 miles were probably the hardest portion for me. The trail is boring and I didn't realize this until the way down, but this was probably one of the steeper parts of the hike (excluding Nevada/Vernal falls and the last 0.5 miles of Clouds Rest).
Eventually, the trees clear a bit and the landscape gets a little greener and you start a series of switchbacks. After the first 2 or 3 switchbacks, you get some awesome clear views of Half Dome and the rest of the Sierras around you, and you get a better picture of what's in store at the top of Clouds Rest. At this point the breaks had become significantly more frequent. There are some spots that are littered with mosquitoes, but somehow you can find some spots where the mosquitoes and flies don't seem to bother you. Maybe it was just the 95 degree heat...
After the switchbacks, you reach a clearing where you make a hard left turn and head up another half mile or so before reaching a sign with Clouds Rest only 0.6 miles away. This last stretch is made easier just knowing you're so close.
Finally, after a steep set of stairs, you're at the top where you'll find that a number of others have reached the peak from Tenaya Lake. Coming from the valley floor, I completely missed the "scary ridge" that most of the reviewers discuss.
The views from the top are as advertised. Amazing and pure. It took me 4 hours to the top, and I consider myself in very good shape. I'm 30, and I typically run between 20-40 miles per week training for half/full marathons. Shortly after I reached the top, two ladies came from behind me, having reached the top from the floor in 3 hours 15 minutes (holy cow!). Lucky for them, they had friends and a ride from Tenaya Lake.
Unfortunately for me, I headed straight back down. This was the part that actually destroyed me. The 6000 feet downhill does a number on the feet and knees. You really don't realize the elevation you climb until you are going down. I followed another reviewer's suggestion and took the JMT down. By this time on July 4th weekend, there was literally a dry erase board that suggested hikers take the JMT down due to the heavy foot traffic on the Mist Trail and its steep descent. While I'm sure taking the JMT was smart, the switchbacks still weren't easy on the feet and knees and it actually took me longer to go down than it did to come up.
I finally got down to Happy Isles and enjoyed a strawberry fruit bar at the snack stand before the mile walk back to my car in Curry Village.
All in all, for me a total of ~22 miles and I finished it in 9 hours (including all stops, rests, and about 20 minutes of dipping my feet in the cool Merced River at Nevada Falls).
-You really MUST be prepared to day hike clouds rest from the valley floor. On a busy holiday weekend, I didn't see a single person on the way up, and only passed 2 people on the way down.
-Overprepare when it comes to water. I had a 100 oz. camelbak, a 24 oz. Propel, and a 16 oz. Gatorade and I was dry when I got to the water fountain at Vernal falls on the way back. It was the first time I had ever finished an entire camelbak during a hike.
-Get the fruit bar at the Happy Isles snack stand. It was the best $1.50 I ever spent, especially when it was 97 degrees.
-Enjoy it. The views are without a doubt great. If you are prepared, this is a great challenge (and a great start to my NYC marathon training!) and it certainly is worth bragging about if you can do it in a day!
Amazing Hike (with a warning)
Paul · Atlanta, GA · June 22, 2014
My wife and I did this hike in June 2014. It really was spectacular to trek into the wilderness and see the amazing views and reach the summit of Clouds Rest. The last bit was a bit of a personal challenge because I don't like heights, but I made it and am so glad I did. If you love pushing yourself to your limits, physically and mentally, you will love this hike. I loved everything about this trail.
Now for the warning. This hike is long and arduous, especially the return trip. Others have mentioned the switchbacks and they are indeed a formidable obstacle...on the way down. They are tortuous and if you're not a regular hiker, it will be all your joints can handle. My wife is not one who loves pushing herself to the limit. She can, but she doesn't enjoy it. This hike absolutely ruined our Yosemite trip for her, and just about for me.
We are 36 and 37 and both athletically built. We exercise once or twice a week. Round trip was about 8.5 hours for us. We carried Camelbaks with 175 oz of water between us and drank about 150 oz of it.
Clouds Rest from Yosemite Valley
Bill Wiley · Oakville, Canada · September 11, 2013
Just a couple of weeks ago was my first visit to Yosemite and I was determined to hike to Clouds Rest from the valley floor. While I thought my conditioning and spirit would get me there, I fell short by 4 miles. The heat was overwhelming and I was exhausted to my limit, which has never happened to me before.
I took the Happy Isles trail and stayed right as soon as I saw a sign for Clouds Rest. This route (John Muir trail) is 1.5 miles longer than going left on the Mist Trail, which I didn't know at the time, but it's less aggressive vertically. On my descent I chose to take the Mist Trail, which has a lot of steep stone stairs that pounded the heck out of my knees. I must note that I'm an active 52 year old and my knees have never been a problem, but by the time I got 1-2 miles from the valley floor, my left knee was threatening to give out.
I'm going back in a couple of weeks, as determined as ever, to conquer this hike but I've learned a thing or two that will help. #1, give myself more time and start at 5:30am. Be sure to stop frequently for rests early on even though you don't feel you need them...you do! #2, do a better job conditioning myself before the trip. This is not an easy or moderately easy hike, especially from Yosemite Valley, and that's what will make it so rewarding to complete. #3. take the steeper and shorter Mist Trail (stay left at the first sign which points to Clouds Rest as being to the right) and take the longer John Muir trail on my descent. It be a lot easier on my knees. #4 get a better hiking shoe. Something light but with a harder sole and better cushioning. #5. get a water purifying system because you will need to fill up from a stream.
To sum up: Do extra conditioning to be prepared and Mist Trail up, John Muir Trail down.
Not as hard as I thought.
Dan · Los Angeles · August 4, 2013
I just got back from finally hiking Cloud's Rest (8/3/13) After studying this website's description of the trail and other reviews, I made it to Sunrise parking lot at 7:30AM and found parking across the street. BTW I am a 45 y.o. male and the last strenuous Yosemite hike I did was the last time I hiked Half Dome 10 years ago. I was mentally prepared for the granite stairs 1000 ft in one mile, and the narrow ridge, so I took off. If you prepare for the big wall of switchbacks, no prob. Beautiful view from the top of the peak, the narrow ridge wasn't that bad, the only bummer was all of the smoke in the valley. Very hard to see even Half Dome. The hike took me 7 1/2 hrs with 30+ minutes on top and I'll do it again as it was not that hard! Just watch out for the trail signs at the second trail junction up the mountain that DON'T MENTION CLOUDS REST! Do NOT take the trail to the left! (Actually I noticed that someone etched into the sign on the right with a rock the words "clouds rest" with an arrow, so that should help.)
I found a time machine!
Jim · Berkeley · August 2, 2013
I did the Half Dome hike in 1964 and saw maybe a couple dozen people the whole day. A couple of years ago went again (I think the last year before the permit system) but turned around when we saw the horde at the cable, barely moving. This year we went on this hike and in terms of the (non) crowd it was as if I had been transported back to 1964.
I won't repeat the glowing reviews, just add a couple of suggestions.
Start early so you're going up in the cool of the day
As everyone says, plenty of water
Parts are pretty rocky, so boots beat tennis shoes
Bring poles, particularly if, like me, your joints aren't what they used to be. I didn't and wished I had.
As to the fear factor, unlike others I found the Clouds Rest ridge more intimidating than my recollection of the HD cables. But that might just be the difference between being 16 and 64.
Clouds Rest Rocks!
Alan Banning · United States · July 30, 2013
Great description of a beautiful hike. I took the Lake Tenaya to Clouds Rest route and I loved every mile. You described the trail perfectly. Thank you.
No matter how you get there, get there!
Mike Wellington · New Hampshire · January 12, 2013
Did this hike in 2011 with my wife and again in 2012 with my family (70 year old in-laws and kids ages 12, 16, 18). 2011 saw us starting at Happy Isles and hiking up through Little Yosemite Valley where we dropped our tent and cooking equipment and on up to Clouds rest. We saw 2 rattle snakes in the trail right after the half dome trail junction. The views from Clouds rest are the best with a close second being Yosemite point (we had done that hike 2 days earlier). On top we met a group of hikers that had come up from Tenaya lake. One woman had vertigo after going across the ridge. She went down the horse trail around the peak. Got back to LYV to find a Rattle snake going through our camp. Long day but great. We planned on catching sunrise on half dome the next day but were turned back by rangers sleeping in the trail before the sub dome as someone had fallen off the top the evening before. 2012 was great to bring the family to the top. Great day! We went at a manageable pace with an early start. Stayed on the top for over an hour. Got back to the car and had time to stop for a fish taco at the Exxon station in Lee Vining. Doesn't matter what route you take. you should bag this hike!
Every Rose has its Thorns
mrblister · Nebraska · September 21, 2012
Did this from Happy Isles the day after a 23 mile hike, so you know where this is going....
Summit is as advertised. 360 degree view, including the bald head of Half Dome, makes this a great peak to bag. Rocky and narrow, with chilling dropoffs on either side, the summit ridge is no place for wimps like me. Throw in the 9900+ foot elevation, and this can be a slightly hostile place. And, I didn't want to leave.
Now....about the trail. If you are considering doing Clouds Rest from the floor, with less than a full tank of energy, don't. Above the Half Dome junction, scenery is less than breathtaking, even as the increasing elevation makes the scenery breathtaking. Rest stops will become more and more frequent, while snails, glaciers and Notre Dame running backs pass you by. I met 3 hikers on the way up and zero on the way down.
I give this hike full marks; a place like this SHOULD be tough to get to. Next time, I'm starting at Tenaya Lake, before the last brain cell goes pffffffffffft.
Most beautiful day hike ever
Kat · Pittsburgh, PA · August 21, 2012
This is an amazing hike -- we didn't quite make it to the summit due to a rapidly-approaching thunderstorm (we turned around on the razor's edge), but we will hopefully be back someday and finish the job! In late August, the stream crossings were not at all problematic -- the water was so low we didn't even get our feet wet. Views are as spectacular as promised, and this guide is accurate as to trail conditions.
Beware the signposting!
Pete · Leicester, UK · July 23, 2012
My son AJ and I set off from Tenaya lake early morning on 16th July 2012 in cool (<60F) conditions and he set a cracking pace as far as the switchbacks, at which point he blew up & I took the lead up to the Sunrise fork; well signed, no problem so a brief rest and drink. Downhill was fine, the next couple of miles went OK then suddenly we were faced with a choice - Yosemite Valley, Nevada Falls, Half Dome to the left - or - Yosemite Valley, Nevada Falls to the right. No easy way to determine the best way to Clouds Rest (still invisible from the woods) but I knew that Half Dome could be reached from Clouds Rest so we took the left-hand path. Wrong! It took nearly a mile to realise that the peak appearing on our right was our objective and that we had to reascend the generally descending path I had chosen. It was obvious as soon as we took the correct (right-hand) path that we were now on the right track, and if I had studied recent trail reviews better I would have been prepared for this, but I think it is reckless of the Parks authority to not mention Clouds Rest at this point (especially when the name is used again within a few hundred yards of the obvious summit). We were not the only party this day to make this mistake.
Anyway, we made it up in 3hrs 10min including 45 mins wasted off-route (so 2hrs 25min if we had not gotten lost) and spent a chilly half hour or so on the summit with the expected wonderful views into The Valley. The summit ridge of solid granite was great but easy and good fun. The descent was uneventful and quicker, getting down to the lake in 2hrs exactly. The Garmin measured 6.4 miles in each direction (when corrected for the mistake) so the total distance is only 12.8 miles if the proper trail is followed. A great viewpoint and a good trail (with marmots!) except for the signposts...
Scary as hell, lovely as heaven
Don, Bill, and Ken Scott · the West · July 12, 2012
We did this hike -- Tenaya Lake to Yosemite Valley -- when Bill and Ken were 12 and 11. 1981. In one day. Thanks to a friend who'd hiked up from the Valley, we had transportation back to the Tenaya Lake Walk-in Campground. We've done a lot of hikes in Yosemite, and we'd all agree that this was the both the most terrifying and most exhilarating hike of them all.
The ridge and the top just scared the hell out of me -- the boys were too young to be scared, so I had to strongly convince them to GET BACK FROM THE EDGE. We survived, but I learned that, yes, I can get vertigo.
But what a beautiful hike. Varied ecosystems, from the lodgepole forest to the Valley oaks. Magnificent views -- I think the view coming down the west side of Clouds Rest must be one of the greatest in the world. You gently switchback down through low ground cover, Half Dome in the distance -- closer all the time. Like a very slow and safe paraglide down, by foot.
That night, dinner was on me. And for the first time, I told the boys, "Eat all you want and everything you want" and they did. Then slept as our friend drove us back to Tenaya.
The next summer, I decided that it was time for them to have a Grand Tour of the US -- but when they heard that, they were upset. Those boys wanted to do that hike again.
A day like that makes a life worthwhile. We'll carry the memories, I'm sure, through whatever comes after this life. Wish I were in good enough shape to do it now. But the point is -- we did it.
Clouds Rest 06-23-12
Philip C · Sacramento,CA · June 23, 2012
We started @ Sunrise trail parking lot on Tioga Road. Weather was great, about 55 degrees at @ 8:15 am, and I don't think it went past 70. First off, I am 43, and not in the best of shape, so this review is for all of you in my shoes.
The first obstacle is the water, about 5 mins in. We were lucky the water was low and we were able to cross over the stones. Then the trail starts a pretty mellow pace, the next stage is the granite stairs and grueling switch backs, for at least a mile all up hill, had to take a few breaks to make it to the top. The views on the way up are awesome and really just tease you for what is yet to come. After the incline, the trail does tend to mellow out, there's the descent to cloud rest trail sign that tested my will, but once I hit the trail head sign, I blasted all the way to the summit. The views were out of this world, and ones that no pictures can ever replace. We stayed for about 30 mins before making our descent. The descent back down was easier, but I will omit the back at the switch backs, I thought they would never end. Total time for this out of shape 43 yrs old novice hiker was 9 hrs round trip. Oh yea my tip, take plenty of cliff-bars and trail mix, I also pretty much went thru my 2.5 liter hydro pack.
Would I do it again..........absolutely
Clouds Rest - Ridge is not scary at all!
Lisa · El Dorado Hills, CA · June 1, 2012
We started our hike to Cloud's Rest from Happy Isles. One very long hike but worth it! It is a much longer hike than Half Dome but the view from the ridge is incredible. I was worried about the ridge but it was a piece of cake.....not scary at all just take your time. This hike is about endurance but well worth the reward when you reach the top!
Clouds Rest to Yosemite Valley
Greg Harris · San Diego, CA · May 26, 2012
My brother Tony, my son Michael and I were dropped off at the trailhead and we hiked up to the top of Clouds Rest then down to Happy Isles. It was a monster - in part because there was still a lot of snow on the ground in some areas and it was a chore getting through it safely - not recommended! But we had been dropped off so basically we had no choice, it was forward or become stranded. Coming off Clouds Rest we lost the trail briefly, but then found it and continued. Amazing view from up there but be careful, that first step down can be bad news if you take it in the wrong direction! Found a guy sleeping up there with no water left - so be sure you bring plenty if you go!
Worth the pain -- The ridge wasn't all that scary
Amela O'Gorman · Michigan · May 20, 2012
I've done a few hikes here in Yosemite and Clouds Rest is definitely an AWESOME day hike. I was surprised that there weren't a lot of hikers on the this trail. There were only about 3 other people on top of Clouds Rest by the time our group summited.
Our trip started at the Sunrise trail parking lot on Tioga Road. It was Spring time (May 19th) and our first obstacle was crossing the lake to continue onto the trail. The water was f-ing cold and it was almost waist high. We continued on the trail for a few miles following footsteps through the snow and eventually we lost the trail for about an hour. We met up with some more hikers after backtracking for a while and decided to team up with them the rest of the way up. It was great because one of the hikers noticed that the trail was marked on the trees (something that we had not noticed). We got to the junction where the trail splits off in two but neither of the trail markers said Clouds Rest. We had to pull out a map and take the trail to the right. We made it to the top and it was a great feeling. The ridge wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. If you can do the Half Dome cables, this should be easy for you.
This hike definitely ranks up on top of my list with Half Dome. The ridge wasn't as scary as the cables of Half Dome but the hike was definitely strenuous. The description of the hike should say "snow shoes optional" because we had to walk though a lot of snow. It was tough going back down because it was very slippery.
Those that are afraid of heights or not in decent shape, should probably seek to do a different hike. You won't make it. I'm 5'4, weigh 125 lbs, exercise 3-4 days a week and this hike was difficult for me. The air was so thin that I was getting winded just walking up a mild incline.
Half Dome's much more difficult sister adventure
Calival · Sunny San Diego · May 8, 2012
Upon attempting for the second year in a row to make it up to Half Dome while also avoiding crowds, my two girlfriends and I began the ascent from Camp Curry's cozy tent cabin cots at 5:15 AM on May 6, 2012. We marveled at the grandiosity of the sunrise as it lit the Vernal and Nevada falls staircases. We felt as if we were fairies or way cuter hobbits on the Stairways to Mordor. ( not sure of the spelling but you get it ) Anyhow, When Crystal looked toward the looming Half Dome which was 4.7 miles behind us and at a much lower elevation, I being the one who had done a year of research and who had planned and prepared us all for the trip (to honor my birthday and to make up for last year's birthday trip to Yosemite when I woke up in tears because I could not feel my legs from the knees down because some time in the night they had been replaced with blocks of molten goo) stated confidently : "Well, it may LOOK like Half Done but it cannot be Half Dome because there are lots of mountain tops in the area which look like that. But it doesn't seem to be the right angle to tunnel view"...so we hiked up and on. And on. And UP...Our stops became more frequent...the switchbacks more switchy, the air much airier...we met some back country campers who gave us the good and bad news. We HAD indeed passed Half Dome and its approach. Our harnesses, our leashes our carabiners and our leather gloves would again wait another year! The good news? We had switched trails and accidentally ended up hiking to Clouds Rest. A way more impressive story for IPA time at the bar later. So we included the treacherous climb up the mist trail, connected with the Muir trail and finished higher and mightier than we had originally set out to accomplish. The entire cable route on Half Dome will still be there next year for my next birthday adventure and next year we can avoid sprained hips, ankles, knees, excessive estrogen and next year we may not be followed out of the trailhead by a small brown hungry bear!!!!
All in all, an excellent, very difficult steep hike littered with wonderful strategically placed acres of mild to moderate hiking for rests betwixt the steep, wet rocky ledges and 45-60* parts which have ALL my parts and pieces screaming today. Everyone agrees, no photograph will ever do Yosemite justice. You HAVE to experience it in person over and over again...bucket list material at its finest.
just as rewarding from the other direction!
Claire · NY · March 24, 2012
My boyfriend and I hiked to Clouds Rest from Happy Isles since Tioga Road was still closed in mid-June last year. Talk about cramming a lot into a day! We got an early start (think 5:30 AM), and we only saw a couple small groups of hikers along the way. We went up the Mist Trail, through Little Yosemite Valley (where we got our first views of Half Dome), and up another 4 miles or so to Clouds Rest. There was still quite a bit of snow on top, but nothing beats looking down at Half Dome from 1,000 feet above. This hike was >20 miles with several thousand feet of vertical rise, so it's not for the out-of-shape. I'm very athletic, but after doing Snow Creek Falls the day before, I was hurting after CR.
But, if Tioga Road is closed, this is an excellent alternative if you don't mind a longer hike!
Great hike, but too much snow in December (unsurprisingly :) )
Igor Z · Orange County · December 25, 2011
I did this hike on December 23, 2011. 90% of the trail was covered with snow, but luckily the last climb was dry and free from any snow and ice. I met no one during the entire hike, which is a nice difference after the crowded Valley trails. However with so much snow it felt like a little too much and took a long time. Hiking poles and a flashlight were a must. Great hike overall; and sitting at the top and looking around was priceless.
Hike of my life
Elaine McLachlan · Glasgow, Scotland · October 6, 2011
I undertook the Tenaya Lake to Clouds Rest hike as my second hike ever(!) while on a hiking holiday in the South West September 2011 (yes I booked it, having never hiked before). It was tough going due to its steep rocky trail and the altitude, but the view points during the ascent boost you to keep going and it is just breathtaking at the summit. This was a huge achievement for me, keeping up with my holiday buddies who were all experienced hikers and I would urge anyone who is reasonably fit to do it - we were lucky and had a clear sunny day and it was out of this world!
It does not get much better than this...
Andrew Senelick · San Diego, California · September 3, 2011
This was my first time hiking Clouds Rest. At the time (depends on when the reader checks this out) I was 56 and a bit overweight. This was the hardest event I had done this year (including three 1/2 marathons in 2011).
Ensure you have a topo map of the area. This helped considerably in a couple of areas where the trail was not marked (or other folks had gone off-trail). Also have plenty of water. I went through a two-liter hydration pack PLUS my extra three 1/2 liter bottles (total of 3.5 liters) and food. This IS NOT easy by any means. There were a lot of people on the trail thinking this would be an easy day hike and they found out different as they were ill prepared... The hike was completed (round trip) in 7.5 hours.
We (my lady's 21-year old daughter and I) started this hike at 8 am with the ambient air temperature being 41 degrees F. Weather wise, fairly clear. But once on the trail, you heat up fast and if there are no clouds, you feel the heat of the sun quickly. In other words, it gets hot out there. I am glad we started fairly early in the day. Folks that started even an hour after us were subjected to major heat, even though it was not over 75 degrees F.
First portion was fairly easy, then came to "part 2" with a gain in elevation of 1000 feet. OY VEH!!! Once we came to the saddle where the trail junctioned, it was back to being easy again. That said once we passed the trail junction, the views were fantastic! Once we got over the hill and through the woods and seriously started for Clouds Rest, the views got better. Once we were at the top we stayed about 45 minutes eating a trail lunch, taking pictures and chatting with other day hikers up there. It took us 3.5 hours to get there. And we were in the vehicle and on our way out of Yosemite by 3:30 pm.
Once we got to the Clouds Rest sign, it looked like a short easy climb to the top. Very deceiving as the rocks hid the rest of the way... BUT at the sign looking back towards Tenaya Lake was beautiful. The 360 view... HOLY SMOKES! WOW! Go there and choose your own adjective!!!
On the way back, any uphill put me to ultra dead slow pacing (old and fat) and more great views that you would not notice on the way up (breathing hard, keeping eyes on trail or whoever is in front for motivation, etc.).
GREAT DAY to be alive and hiking in Yosemite. IF I could figure out a way, I would post photos.
Brandon · Roseville, CA · September 2, 2011
This hike was amazing. The trails are very well maintained. And the payoff is well worth it. You are at one of the highest peaks in the park, you can see everything from here. Don't let the winding stairs at the beginning of the hike stop you. If you can make that it's all down hill from there. (Not Really) but definitely easier.
Clouds Rest - Spectacular
Steve · Fremont, CA · August 29, 2011
This is a "must do" hike for any Yosemi-phile and it provides one of the most dramatic views the park has to offer. It is a 14.4 mile round trip, with about 1,766 feet of elevation gain, so all but the most fit hikers will feel it in their legs and lungs, but the pay-off view at the top is beyond description.
The hike begins at the Sunrise trailhead on Tioga Road and meanders the first mile and half through flat serene meadows. When the switchbacks hit and the climb begins, the work really starts. I started early, around 6:30 AM, on a slightly overcast morning and it didnt feel too harsh. If you pace yourself and stop to enjoy the views of Mount Hoffman and Lake Tenaya and take a few breathers, it really isn't that bad. But if you are not in decent shape or hike it later on a hot day, this section might take its toll. I ran into a few disgruntled travellers on my way down, one of which was alternately vomiting and cursing, convinced that there was no end to the switchbacks and that the summit was a "mirage". In reality it is only a mile or so, but you gain about 1,000 feet in that mile, so it is a decent climb.
Once at the top of the ridge the trail forks. To the left is the Sunrise High Sierra Camp. The Clouds Rest trail is off to the right and immediately descends down into some gorgeous forest. At the right time of year there are wildflowers everywhere. There are also a few ponds and creeks on the way and the mosquitos are both numerous and persistent - every time I stopped to take a photo I was attacked like a human buffet line. The trail continues on through more sparsely forested areas with subtle elevation drops and gains until the final rise to Clouds Rest.
Clouds Rest itself is pure joy. Maybe I am biased because I love Yosemite so much, but I dont think its hyperbole to say that this is one of the most spectacular vistas the known Universe has to offer! The scale of what you are looking at is immense and you get glimpses of so many Yosemite icons - North Dome, Basket Dome, El Capitan. But of course, as is most often the case, Half Dome is the star and her profile from Clouds Rest is striking. Plan on spending at least an hour or so. The views are hard to pry away from and you'll enjoy the rest after the 7 miles you just hiked to get there.
I think the talk of the Clouds Rest footpath being perilous is a little overblown. I am a bit of an acrophobe myself, but I didnt find it intimidating at all. There is plenty of space and it never felt like gravity was tempting me to discover the bottom of Tenaya Canyon. Take your time and watch what you're doing and it is perfectly safe. By the time I was leaving there were probably 40 or so people coming up and down the ridge and there was room to spare.
All in all this is one of Yosemite's premier hikes. It is physically rewarding in that it covers close to 15 miles at alititude (9,926 ft at the top) but the spiritual/emotional experience of sitting on top taking in the 360 degree panorama is something that will never leave you. It is truly a memorable experience. Enjoy!
A lot of fun
SpursFan · San Antonio, Tx · August 15, 2011
You have to do a lot of work getting up those first set of switchbacks to gain the first 1000 feet, but a start around sunrise makes that a lot easier. Make sure to turn around every so often to catch the views of Mount Hoffman and Tuolumne Peak on that ascent. Once you get those switchbacks out of the way the trail becomes dramatically easier. You lose the great views for a while, but pass a cool pond and get in some nice shaded and relatively level forest hiking for a while. As you get near the summit ridge and the trees thin out you get some nice view back north towards Hoffman. Then going up the summit ridge is spectacular. A huge dropoff into Tenaya Canyon on your right that looks like the view from an airplane. Another large dropoff to your left. Turn around and you can see Tenaya Lake 1500 feet below you, as well as Tenaya Peak and Mount Conness. Near the summit you'll get to see Half Dome below eye level, in addition to North Dome, Basket Dome, Glacier Point, and Sentinel Dome. To me the real star of the show is Mount Clark though, to the south. It's the most prominent feature you can see from there (though Conness is quite a bit higher; I don't recall if you can see the giants Maclure and Lyell from there, but if so they'd be a ways away). All in all, it's a hell of a hike if you're not scared of heights. If you are, then it's one to be missed, as the summit ridge can get to about 6 feet wide with huge dropoffs on both sides in parts. I think the author of the page makes the summit ridge sound scarier than it is though; my pants managed to stay dry.
No pain, no gain...
Tak Asami · Mission Viejo, CA · July 27, 2011
I've done most of Yosemite Day Hikes rated "strenuous", but this one tops them all. Half Dome might beat it, but it's not a day hike. It is late July, 2011. The weather is warm, so "snow resistant" apparel wasn't really needed. The first "fun" is to cross the knee deep creek at the start of the trail. The water was not chilly, it's most annoying to take out the hiking boots. OTOH, the way back, which was almost 7PM in my case, the water was getting considerably cooler. Much later than that, it could be nasty.
It was rather pleasant, a nice cool breeze when you take a break. And breaks you should take frequently, as first 2 mile climb is very steep. The presence of snow doesn't help, either. I say water proof shoes and a walking stick is a requirement. After you reached the first peak, it flattens out but it's still 5 more miles walk. By the time you get to the base of the peak, you feel you exhausted all your energy. Then you have this narrow, rocky, scary climb (actually going down is even scarier). Then you really reached the top. A wonderful 360 degree view that makes it all worth while. Take your time there and enjoy. Scream at the people at Glacier Point across the valley that they are missing all the fun. Then it's time to go back. The rocky trail doesn't make it easy on your legs even when you are going down. Combined with the fatigue during the climb, the trail feels twice as long. Take your time. From Sunrise Lake junction, the sign says 2.5 Miles to Tenaya Lake. That was the longest 2.5 miles I've ever walked.
I did this hike in 8.5 hours (5 hrs climb, 3.5 hrs down). Budget at least that much time, and perhaps more, if you are not a strong hiker. After this ordeal, you will feel pretty good about yourself. Reserve about 3 days for your body to heal...
CYA Boilerplate: The opinions on this page are those of the reviewers themselves, and are not official advice from or the responsibility of yosemitehikes.com. You're responsible for your own safety when you're hiking in Yosemite. Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?