Gaylor Lakes Trail
Matt Matthews · San Diego, CA · August 24, 2020
The Gaylor Lakes trail was very enjoyable. The first bit takes some effort but the views and solutude are rewarding. The silence in the valley is enspiring. I particularly liked inspecting the the old silver mine above upper Gaylor lake.
Spectacular off-the-beaten-track area of YNP
Carlo · Marin County, CA · July 14, 2019
I've been into the Gaylor Lakes area many times. It is one of the most beautiful and serene areas at the higher elevations of YNP. The Yosemite Hikes description of the area pretty much says it all. Once you get over the ridge at the trailhead, the basin opens before you and the hiking is gorgeous, offering easy wandering for exploring in any direction. And the views of surrounding High Sierra peaks are breathtaking. Bring a USGS map and a compass along (you should have these with you, anyway) and do some peak spotting. Binoculars will also help you enjoy your time here.
ONE IMPORTANT NOTE OF CAUTION: Monitor the weather carefully if you're going into this area, especially during the summer. Thunderstorms can arise swiftly and at any time during daytime in the High Sierra. They bring lightning, of course, and often hail. In the Gaylor Lakes basin itself there is no shelter from either, so if you're caught out in the open up there, you must either know how to try to protect yourself from lightning, or if you don't, get the hell out fast. By the way, this advice about dangerous weather pertains to anywhere you might be at the higher elevations in YNP, or the High Sierra in general.
Gaylor Lake Hike 7/10/18
Anne · Coarsegold, CA · July 11, 2018
Just got back from this hike. We decided to do it based upon this overview on yosemitehikes.com. The hike up from the parking lot is indeed steep and pretty long if you're not in tip top condition. Trekking poles are highly recommended. After a very short level-ish spot at the top of the climb you climb down again--not as long as the up but it is tricky in spots but the view is absolutely gorgeous as described. Many mosquitos around the lake. Hiking around the lake and to the surrounding lakes is flat and easy but the climb back up out and down is pretty challenging. Still, the rewards of this hike are an amazing view and awesome terrain.
Favourite hike of the few that I did
LauraS345 · Vancouver, Canada · June 26, 2018
Loved this hike! I think it’s highly under-rated. Grand reward for a low end of moderate effort. With my moderate fitness and stiff legs I was definitely huffing on the way up and picking my way carefully going down.
Not many there save for a few fisherman. Early October was an awesome time to go - no crowds, perfect weather. You really get the high country feel up at the lakes and the options once up there are fantastic: explore near the legs or scramble one of the small peaks. Lovely view from the 2nd lake down to the first lake, and of course from the main trail up down to the road and valley.
Still some wildflowers left in the Fall as well.
Beautiful hike! Wildflowers, spectacular views, and solitude!
Jackie · Los Angeles, CA · August 20, 2015
Thank you for all the information I got from this website for this awesome hike! I did this hike in mid-August, and, amazingly, got to see lots of wildflowers along the trail. The trail also goes through the shade of pines and such. Although the whole hike was steep and uphill, the views and the short hike down to the lake were worth it!
Alpine flowers and solitude
James Carter · Edinburgh, Scotland · July 28, 2015
This hike made a great introduction to Yosemite after we came over the Tioga Pass. In the last week of June there were still snow patches by Upper Gaylor Lake, and lots of beautiful alpine flowers by the path. Watch out for the effects of the altitude though: I reckon I'm reasonably fit, but I was puffing like a steam train on the steep climb from the parking lot!
Better Late Than Never?
Erica Agesen · Medford Oregon · September 13, 2014
First, I want to apologize for taking so long to write this review. My husband and I did this hike in October 2013. This was a wonderful hike that we would not have discovered without your web page. My husband has hiked the John Muir Trail and the PCT so you would think he would know Yosemite fairly well. And I'm always getting new Falcon Guides and scouring the Internet for new places to go. The description and reviews convinced us. We hiked to Upper Gaylor Lake but then continued on to Granite Lakes which we both felt were even more beautiful. It was well worth the effort to get there. Now we're planning another trip this October and I think we'll try the Mono Pass hike. (My husband did know about this one beforehand!)
Unexpected spectacular hike
Harry · Birmingham, Alabama · September 3, 2014
First I would like to thank Russ Cary for a website that has been so incredibly helpful during our trip. As I type this I still have two more days in Yosemite.
My wife and I love hiking and have visited most of the National Parks in the West. Today's hike to the lower and upper Gaylor Lakes was really rewarding.
We started in the small parking lot just to the right if you are entering via the Tioga Pass park entrance. As described the initial ascent is fairly steep. But this is quickly accomplished and you get fantastic views even on the ascent so the entire hike really pays dividends for those who enjoy the journey and not just the end point.
As you crest the top of the hill you can look out at the lower Gaylor Lake. It is rimmed with a gorgeous array of mountains. I really did not expect it to be so beautiful. After seeing this I can't believe we almost skipped this hike. While the Yosemite Valley with El Capitan and Half Dome get so much attention you would be making a mistake by forgoing this hike.
The water in the lake is a mix of deep blues and if not windy like on our hike the calm water gives great reflections of the surrounding hills and mountains.
When dropping down to the lake basin bear off to the right and make sure to follow the clear path slightly ascending to the upper Gaylor Lake. This upper lake is also fantastic.
At this point you have gone about 1.5 miles. If you follow the trail to the left of the upper lake you can do a quick hike up to an old silver mine and enjoy more views of the park farther to the north. We did and I recommend it. In all we did the hike in around two hours. Thanks again to Russ for this website and for the information on this site.
Want your own, personal, piece of Yosemite?
Shawn ONeill · Aberdeen, WA · March 29, 2014
Wow. I'm almost reluctant to add my praise, because I don't want to see this area mobbed. But wow. Meadows? Big skies? Beautiful granite? Peaks? And marvelous light. Nearly to yourself. I hiked on past Gaylor Lake (incredible afternoon light) to Upper Granite Lake, and saw one other pair of hikers, I think... heading the other direction. The hump up the pass is tough, but not bad. The lakes are spectacular.
Heart-pounding views and hike
Teri · Turlock · November 10, 2013
Great fun. Snowy ground in some places, totally dry in others! Flatlanders are warned to not approach this lightly, as hiking at 10,000 feet causes shortness of breath just opening the car door! It took pacing (read "we stopped a lot to catch our breath"), which gave us ample time to take in the clear blue sky and wonderful mountains surrounding us. The beginning of the hike is pretty much straight up the mountainside, an ascent of 600 feet that felt like a lot more. We found trekking poles very helpful. We did not have time to hike around the lake; it is isolated and we enjoyed the breeze at the ridge top singing in the trees. We were glad for being ready to enjoy the sun and freeze at the same time. Hiked on 11-9-13.
Carol and Chris · New Hampshire · August 16, 2013
My son and I hiked 30 miles in three days. This was by far our favorite hike. A little steep in the beginning for people who live at sea level but once we reached the top the beauty that surrounded us was amazing. We continued to the old abandoned mine. My 10 year old son's imagination ran wild! We were the only people up there on an August afternoon. Total solitude in a park filled with thousands! This is a great hike!
great short hike
joe · san diego, CA · July 7, 2013
The first portion of the hike is quite strenuous due to the higher elevation and steep ascent. Still, once you get to the top of the hill the downward hike to the middle gaylor lake is easy. The middle gaylor lake is very beautiful with reflections of the mountains off of the lake. Clear blue water with small trout feeding as you walk along the trail. The hike up to the upper gaylor lake is fun and easy with a stream along the path. The upper gaylor lake is not as picturesque, but still worthwhile. Beware of mosquitoes at the upper lake. Don't miss this hike if you are in this area during your visit.
A taste of the high country
Peter Sarafan · Massachusetts · July 4, 2013
This hike is a great change of pace from those of the valley. Very different but beautiful high country scenery. Almost no people. Cool, clear air. Go slowly as it takes alot more effort at high altitude, the trail running between 9500 and 10,000 ft. When you arrive at the lower lake, walk along the right hand shore line and take the trail going up to the right at the far corner of the lake. This will take you to the second lake. Now walk along the left hand shore and follow the trail to the far side of the lake where it bends to the left, goes slightly uphill and leads to the ruins of an old mine. Very neat. You can do a couple of other short hikes in the high country making the drive from the valley well worth while.
Won’t forget that sapphire-blue water
Robert & Susan Dunn · Little Rock, Arkansas · September 27, 2012
This turned out to be one of our favorite hikes in Yosemite, perhaps because our expectations weren’t so high. The initial segment of the trail is pretty strenuous – particularly considering that you’re climbing from 10,000 feet to more than 11,000 feet in elevation! Wife and I agreed that there was no shame in stopping FREQUENTLY to catch our breath.
The views – in both directions – from the top of the ridge are pretty impressive. The downhill section after you crest the ridge is a welcome break, but remember you’ll have to climb UP it on the way back!
Middle Gaylor Lake is quite picturesque, especially with the various snow-covered mountains (both nearby and far in the distance). The walk from Middle Gaylor Lake to Upper Gaylor Lake is great fun, a gentle climb with a gurgling stream right beside you. In fact, at one point the stream is on BOTH sides of the trail!
Weather was cool and windy (especially near the lake), but my wife was a real trooper and didn’t complain even though she only had on a short-sleeve shirt. (At least she was wearing long pants!)
Upper Gaylor Lake is small but pretty; there were still several large patches of snow nearby (in mid-June). Consequently, we chose not to slog through the mushy ground in search of the Great Sierra Mine – maybe on our next trip to Yosemite! The final descent back to the trailhead requires attention and careful footing to avoid a fall that would ruin an otherwise lovely hike.
This hike will tire you out, but it’s definitely worth it – just take your time and pause often to catch your breath. Plenty of water and some energy snacks are (as always) a good idea. And because the trailhead is located at the parking lot just inside the Tioga Pass Entrance Station, the restroom facilities are somewhat nicer than the typical pit toilets, which is a welcome bonus.
Eric · Mobile, Alabama · June 11, 2012
This was the best half day hike of our vacation and a totally different Yosemite.
Great hike for off trail fun
Elizabeth · Fresno · October 23, 2011
I rarely venture off trail because of my limited navigational skills, but this trail was a good way to start. We wandered around for hours from one lake to another and had no problems finding our way back to the trail. It was also very beautiful. It was worth the time to go up to the Great Sierra Mine, although I wouldn't do it if there was a lot of snow because of the gaping mine shafts. Mt. Dana is ever present and I've set my sites on that next.
Simply the best
Shelley · Los Angeles · August 29, 2011
Did this about a week ago, in late August and I still have my head in the scenery. Since the snows only melted a month earlier, the hiking was as if in early Spring. Alpine wildflowers everywhere, with Gaylor Lake filled to the brim. What makes this so stunning is the sight of the Cathedral Range of Tuolome rising above the wide, boulder strewn basin. The peaks of those mountains are like sharp meringue whips. Great for off trail wandering (watch the wildflowers). We also got to walk on snow and meander past a rushing stream - green as it gets at 10,000 feet. One of my favorite places now. Don't miss it. Except for the first 1/2 or 3/4 mile slog up and over to Gaylor Basin, this is a pretty easygoing hike.
My first Hike
zilla · Merced CA · August 29, 2011
I recently lost over 100lbs and wanted to take my first hike after this accomplishment. I have been working out in the gym but never took a hike. I felt that it was very easy for a beginner and a great first hike for anyone.
Our Favorite Hike in Yosemite!
Doug and Kristina · Providence, RI · August 25, 2011
The Gaylor Lakes trail was our favorite hike in Yosemite! (We also hiked the Upper Yosemite falls and Four Mile trails.) The trail is spectacular, filled with beautiful views of glaciers and ice sheets, sparkling lakes, and wildflowers. The rocks scattered around the meadow are home to marmots, which sun themselves on a nice day. We felt like we had entered the Land Before Time! We heartily recommend this one, fully deserving of five stars.