Sunrise Lake #1. Heading towards Clouds Rest will take you down about 300 feet. This hike as it is already is quite long. About half a mile from the top on the right, you will see this beautiful view. It’s a popular spot for campers, and there are a number of tents already set-up at around the edges of the enormous meadow. Remarkable trip…… Relatively easy with plenty of time to rest and enjoy what the park has to offer. First part of our hike was about 2.7 miles, which actually is the most strenuous part of the hike with steep switchbacks up to the Sunrise Lakes and Cloud’s Rest juncture. Trailhead: Tenaya Lake West (Sunrise) Trailhead Elevation: 8150. ( Log Out /  There expansive view over the partk, with Yosemite Valley stretching to the south as far as the eye can see. You just follow the narrow granite ridge up to the top. 2. The sun has almost set as the track leaves the first lake, and descends towards the second lake. The Sunrise Lakes trailhead is one of the busiest in the Tuolumne area because it’s the shortest way to Clouds Rest, and close to the shore of Tenaya Lake, a popular stopping point on Highway 120. 5. Don't worry about throngs of summit-hungry hikers: Clouds Rest lacks the crowds that nearby Half Dome attracts. The day ended perfectly for us with a quiet evening eating dinner and watching the sunset from our “back deck”.  Glorious day. DIFFICULT 15.4 mi. Here I finally get a sense of the altitude gained, with filtered views of distant mountains through the towering trees. From here on, you'll gain nearly 1,500 feet over 4.5 miles and climb, literally, into the clouds. If you detour to visit Sunrise Lakes it will take up a few hours more. We crossed paths with many more day hikers than we had seen previously. To the east are some of the higher peaks – Mount Lyell, Mount Maclure and Mount Florence – some with patches of snow still clinging on to the upper slopes. Then, let the climbing begin. Take the Sunrise Lakes trail from Tenaya Lake. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Tenaya Lake – Sunrise Trailhead – Clouds Rest Trail [< ----- 0.62 Mile ----- >] Tanaya Lake – Sunrise Lakes Trailhead 8,150 ft elev. With head-torch on, I’m soon back at the junction with the Clouds Rest Trail. Hike from May Lake Trailhead to Sunrise Lakes and set up camp July 15th (Fri): Leave camp and day hike to the summit of Cloud's Rest Return to Camp at Sunrise Lakes July 16th (Sat): Hike north from Sunrise Lakes to Cathedral Lakes Hike north from Cathedral Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows Set up Camp at Tuolumne Meadows backpackers Campground The area is beautiful with views of … The star attraction is Half Dome, rising above the valley floor. Clouds Rest and Sunrise Lakes Loop is a 23 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. From here, it’s going to be uphill regardless of where I go… Since I don’t have a Half Dome permit and I’ve still got a long way back to the car, I give on my half-baked plan of combining Clouds Rest and Half Dome. 4. Lake number two is located a short distance below the track, so I make the short detour down to the edge of the water. The people who wrote this article apparently camped right at Cloud's rest, which I didn't realize this was an option (but it sounds awesome), however I'm sure it isn't necessary. Nearby Hiking Trails. Clouds Rest via Tenaya Lake. Sunrise Trailhead off of Tioga Road, just south of Tenaya Lake: Time Required: 7-10 hours to summit of Clouds Rest and back: Length: 13 miles to Clouds Rest and back: Elevation Change: Roughly 2000-feet of elevation gain in two separate pushes with a 400-ft descent in between. Range, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and more. The John Muir Trail initially follows Sunrise Creek and ascends very gently. There are two trails that leave from Tenaya Lake, one that leads to the north and one to the south. Share. 1. This is actually the easiest part of the hike and only the end is a bit steep but not nearly as much of a sweat as the first part of the hike with the switchbacks. Looking down from the ridge, you start to get a view of the expanse of Yosemite stretching into the distance – and directly below a weird landscape that looks like millions of shattered pieces of granite piled haphazardly on top of one another. There are two trails that leave from Tenaya Lake, one that leads to the north and one to the south. All Rights Reserved. Lower Cathedral Lake via John Muir Trail. BUY PHOTO: An early morning stroll through the lovely granite formations. I think it’s fairly obvious. DIFFICULT 21.7 mi. (It’s a hard decision… it would have been a great spot for an extended break to see the changing colours of the distant peaks as the sun sets – but I’ve still got five miles to go.) When you flatten out, you will be on rolling ups and downs for the next mile and a half. There’s a metal sign which states “Clouds Rest Foot Trail”. My last hike in Yosemite was in April almost ten years ago; my planning consisted of little more than booking some accommodation and purchasing a map. It was only four miles to Cloud’s Rest from here, but would feel like the longest four miles of my life. 5.0 A hiking blog with a little something extra. DIFFICULT 2.6 mi. There’s some enormous western white pines – most of them alive, except for the occasional “ghost” of a tree that’s been hit by lightning. After what seems like an eternity, you will make it to the saddle where the trail breaks off to Sunrise Lakes and Clouds Rest. Up the trail, there are two other lakes, with the second being about a half mile away and off the trail so it takes a bit of off roading to find it.  Even then, we are told, it is more of a marsh than a lake.  The 3rd is even farther up, about a mile from lake #1, and on the incline headed up to Sunrise Lakes HSC.  I did not go to either of these lakes, but I’m told lakes #1 and #3 are the best. You'll pass a small tarn on the right, and cross a small stream twice - be sure to treat some water at the stream as the trail will be dry for several miles afterwards. Clouds Rest is a great hike if you are unable to secure a permit for Half Dome or if you are looking for a longer trail with more elevation gain. After the first 1.5 mile hike on the relatively flat trail, you begin to climb up the lower slope below Sunrise Mountain. After taking a few photos and responding to a few urgent emails (it’s the first time I’ve had mobile reception since I arrived at the park), I continue down the southern end of Clouds Rest. We had some options as to how far and how many days we would go. You can hike the Cloud's rest trail from Tenaya lakes and back in one long day (14.5 miles). Hop on the Sunrise Trail for a flat, 1.6-mile warm-up to the glittering azure of Sunrise Lakes. From Clouds Rest's airy and cozy summit, the most undeniable natural feature is the Northwest Face, a stunning 5000-foot drop into Tenaya Canyon. As I get closer to the park and realise there is a solid wall of snow on both sides of the road, it crosses my mind that perhaps I should have done a bit more research. The Clouds Rest hike begins at 7am at the Sunrise Trailhead parking along the west shore of Tenaya Lake. Why isn't the Tenaya Lake trailhead listed? Imagine virgin Sierra Nevada granite, uplifted from its deep burial place by compressional tectonic forces, canyons eroded rapidly by generous spring runoff, and finally, the odd glacier to smooth the slope. For Clouds Rest, you need a permit for Sunrise Lakes, and we highly recommend reserving this one, as it’s a very popular route. The track ascends again, following the western side of the ridge towards the base of Clouds Rest. Turn left to go to the Sunrise Lakes instead. DIFFICULT 24.1 mi. Once it reaches the Sunrise Mountain plateau, it’s fairly flat, and for the first time there are views of the knife-like Matthes Crest and Cathedral Range (from left to right is Colombia Finger, Tresidder Peak, Cathedral Pass, the top of Echo Peaks, and Matthes Crest). Take it to Little Yosemite Valley, where hordes of Half Dome hopefuls gather for a shot at peak views similar to the ones you just earned (join them if your backcountry permit allows it). During spring melt, this crossing can be a much bigger obstacle. There’s a clearly marked path down the rocky summit, which heads in the general direction of Half Dome. To get there you’ll have to take highway 120 up to Tioga Pass. There’s no path or signage from here – but none is needed. I’m sorry….. Did you say parking lot?  They seemed to think their car was just 10 minutes away.  While one insisted they needed to continue up the trail (towards HSC) to their car, I tried several times to explain going in that direction would take them farther into the Wilderness.  After some additional questions, I learned they were returning from Clouds Rest and upon reaching the landing area (where the trails intersect) they asked someone which way the “Sunrise Trail” was.  What they meant to be asking was which way the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead was and instead what they got was directions to Sunrise Lakes.  Essentially, they turned right when they should have gone straight.  Had they not stopped for directions from us, they would have found themselves very far from their cars after dark and unprepared.  They were off course, both out of water with no filter, wearing  minimal day packs with 3 miles left to hike and dark approaching.  thankfully they caught their mistake early, heeded my advice and got turned back in the right direction with only 1/2 mile of misdirection behind them…….. And brought more than just a T-shirt and shorts to wear…. Bring water and lunch. I can see why Yosemite draws such big crowds and I’ve enjoyed my hike, but I’d avoid June-August in future and visit when there’s a few less people around! At this landing, there are several options.  The trailhead to the left, will take you to Sunrise Lakes and beyond to Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Camp.  The trailhead straight (as you hit the top), will take you to Clouds Rest…… Pro Tip:  To the right there is an unmarked trail (two actually) that will take you to one of the best views of the Valley in Yosemite.  The best spot is up and to the right so…… of the two unmarked trails to the right, take the first one that goes up a bit.  Either one, if you go up (slightly right) and then out to the edge you will know exactly what I am talking about.  Would make a wonderful campsite, except the closest water is a half mile away at Sunrise Lakes. A class 1 hike from the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead (8,160') on CA SR-120, aka Tioga Road, just southwest of Tenaya Lake. The fastest way to day hike Cloud's Rest starts from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead on Tioga Road near Tenaya Lake. (Joe's Guide to Yosemite National Park) BUY PHOTO: Drive to Sunrise trailhead (We will be leaving one car at Yosemite Valley). A bit further on there’s a small plateauand another junction, this time a trail to Merced Lakes. Multiple steep ascents. The trail now descends via a series of switchbacks down to the valley; it’s getting warm and I’m glad to be going downhill (but less thrilled at the thought that eventually I will need to regain all of this altitude). Friday: Wake up early and hike Cloud's Rest to observe the sunrise. And I use the word “narrow” somewhat loosely: I’ve read descriptions such as “a narrow and knife-edged ridge”. In the first 100 yards of the trail we crossed over Tenaya Creek, the only major creek crossing on this trail. The Clouds Rest Trail winds its way through wildflower-covered meadows, forests and rocks before it starts the steep switchbacking (at times stair step) climb. After 3.5 miles (about a mile past the turn-off to Sunrise Lakes) the track passes a small, unnamed lake. Break Free From Your Story. steps, rocks, sandy paths, dirt etc.  It’s a nice variety making the experience not at all mundane.  About 2 miles in, the trail will begin to climb in a gradual fashion with the trees becoming more scarce as you gain altitude.  Still an easily maneuverable and wide trail but more exposed so be prepared for heat if the sun is shining.  As you approach Clouds Rest, you may notice the effects of the altitude and you will begin climbing switchbacks on the granite.  Keep an eye out for opportunities to make your way to the edge to get your first glimpse of Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon.  Looking back at Tenaya Lake, from where you most likely started, is quite a treat and an accomplishment for sure.  As you approach the Clouds Rest sign, the trail can be easily lost but if you look closely you will see steps and routes that are fairly easy to follow.  From the sign, you get a great look at the ridge that stands between you and the top.  Many get nervous here, and some choose to quit, as it is definitely a ridge with drops to both sides.  That being said, even at its most narrow spot there is plenty of room to safely maneuver your way across the firmly placed boulders.  I encourage you to press on, even if having to do so on all four.  I think we lucked out because the trail, and even the summit was very quiet this day with minimal use by other hikers.  As we made our way to the top, for a moment we found we were the only ones there.  With clear blue skies we had amazing views of Tenaya Canyon to our right, Yosemite Valley to our left and of course Half Dome in all its glory.  With binoculars, you can actually watch folks climbing the cables of Half Dome while you enjoy your snack or lunch.  Standing about 1000 feet higher than Half Dome, there are many (myself included) who would say this is a better hike.  Yes it lacks the iconic cables, but no special permit is required and Half Dome is in the view.  Prepared with lunch, after taking our many photos, we found a spot and simply enjoyed being. 3. mirror lake trail via John Muir Trail. It's a tough uphill route, particularly between Tenaya Lake and the crossroads to Sunrise Lake, but absolutely worth the push. You can certainly do all of Cloud's rest in a day if you're so inclined. It was not yet open for the season. This is nice when you are going this direction but tough when you are heading back after summiting. Anyway….. From the lake there’s another gradual ascent up the ridge, with the trees seeming to get bigger as I climb. There’s just 2.5 miles left to get back to the car at the Sunrise Lakes trailhead. The path climbs immedately, past a few camping sites and up one of the ridges that surround the grassy meadow. Hike to Sunrise Lake. From the landing to Clouds Rest, you will travel about 4 miles with water found this time of year around 1.5 miles (unnamed pond/lake) and 2.25 miles (very small “creek”).  A filter is needed for both.  Initially the trail descends quickly on a rocky trail so be mindful this will be an uphill climb on the return trip.  For a bit after that  you will meander through a bit of a valley, with slight undulations, on tree-lined trails with enjoyable views.  Honestly speaking, the trail throughout is a great variety of terrain…. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. This time it’s a very different experience. Strenuous day hike: Access: Sunrise Trailhead off of Tioga Road, just south of Tenaya Lake: Time Required: 7-10 hours to summit of Clouds Rest and back: Length: 13 miles to Clouds Rest and back: Elevation Change: Roughly 2000-feet of elevation gain in two separate pushes with a 400-ft descent in between. The Trailhead The route to the peak involves three separate paths, all well used and in a good state of repair. There are sweeping views as you ascend, but it’s not at all like many descriptions suggest. The hill behind the first lake is almost glowing orange from the setting sun. After about an hour of down time, we retraced our steps and made our way back to camp. ... via John Muir Trail. Trail Notes & Hazards: 2.7 miles (4.3 km) into the hike, just as you've finished climbing a gnarly series of switchbacks, you'll reach a fork in the trail. (I was banking on the rangers being gone by late afternoon, and climbing Half Dome very late in the day). Saturday 9/8/18 (3.5 miles, 1132 feet gain):  Man did we feel lucky by the clear skies and warm weather predicted in Yosemite.  Hard to tell, initially, as we left home at 4:30am in total darkness.  With this departure time, we made it to the Big Oak Flat Ranger station at 8:00am to pick up our permits.  For those who don’t know, permits are required to camp in the back Country of Yosemite.  Despite our being there at 8:00am, we were still #3 in line with others before us hoping to score available permits that day.  While understandable, I was terribly disappointed to learn Yosemite has a current ban on all camp fires.  It seems the 10 recent lightening strike fires are keeping them plenty busy.  Guess I brought the marshmellows for nothing.  We were back on the road around 8:30am and ready to roll at the Sunrise Lake Trailhead (near Tenaya Lake) at 9:30am. I was expecting something a little exhilarating, like Angels Landing. 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