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Clouds Rest Viewpoint Trail

Difficult
 4.9 (70) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Incredibly stupendous side-on views of Half Dome are the highlight of this hike.


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Map Key

12.4

Miles

20.0

KM

Out and Back

9,765' 2,976 m

High

8,157' 2,486 m

Low

2,129' 649 m

Up

2,130' 649 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (4°)

49%

Max Grade (26°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Wildflowers

Overview

This is the easiest way to reach magnificent Clouds Rest, but it is still very strenuous with challenging switchbacks. To reach the Clouds Rest viewpoint, you must also navigate an exposed knife-edge of granite plates that is not for the faint of heart. All that sweat makes the views only that much sweeter: Tenaya Lake, Sentinel Dome, North Dome, Basket Dome, Mount Hoffman, Mount Lyell and of course, Half Dome. With good binoculars, you can even spot hikers clinging to the cables on Half Dome.

Need to Know

Weather can change rapidly here, so bring warm layers and rain gear. If a late afternoon thunderstorm approaches, get down asap so you don't get zapped.

Description

Leaving the parking area at the west end of Tenaya Lake, cross the lake's outlet (can be deep in spring, dry by late summer). 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. At about 2.5 miles, you'll reach an intersection with the Sunrise Lakes Trail that heads off to the east. To stay on the Clouds Rest Trail take the right fork and head downhill to the south. Upon entering an alpine meadow with ponds, relax for a bit in serene wooded groves and make use of the last reliable water supply.

Continue to ascend through higher elevations where the forest is less dense and much dryer with views of distant peaks. Arrive at a final trail junction with the Pack Trail (that eventually joins the JMT: Segment 1 - Happy Isles to Tuolomne Meadows) and proceed straight towards the southwest. Now the ridgeline narrows and you'll be traveling over an exposed skinny fin of granite, which might give some visitors a feeling of vertigo. At the summit you command a 360-degree view with Tenaya Canyon falling away to the west, Yosemite Valley below, and a fantastic angle for viewing Half Dome. The Cathedral Range and Clark Range create a breathtaking skyline to the east and south. The peak at Clouds Rest is wider than the approach so there is room to rest comfortably before retracing your steps back down to Tenaya Lake.

Flora & Fauna

Lupine, lily. Lodgepole pine, hemlock.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

Shared By:

Megan W

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 70 votes

#66

Overall
  4.9 from 70 votes
5 Star
86%
4 Star
14%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#6

in California

#66

Overall
8 Views Last Month
25,282 Since May 18, 2016
Difficult

0%
0%
4%
9%
82%
5%

Photos

Such an incredible spot in Yosemite. Clouds Rest is appropriately named with 360 views of the park including Half Dome.
May 26, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
Westward view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon, and smoke from fires from Clouds Rest.
Nov 19, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Cloud's Rest, Yosemite.
May 14, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
Cloud's Rest - Almost at top
May 27, 2022 near Yosemit…, CA
Half Dome and Yosemite Valley in the distance.  The view from the top of Clouds Rest provides you a  great view of the entire park.
Mar 9, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
At the peak of Clouds Rest with the "Inverse Tunnel View" of the Yosemite Valley in the background. he out-and-back hike to Clouds Rest from Tenaya Lake is one of the most rewarding one in Yosemite.
Aug 11, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 66 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Oct 2, 2021
Rohit Naresh Mandge
Sep 13, 2021
Tom Herr
Mainly inclined trail through the rocky forest. There were only a couple steep areas. Views from top were amazing! 12.4mi
Sep 3, 2021
Samantha Lynn
Aug 15, 2021
Vianni Garcia
It was strenuous and scary going up the spine to clouds rest viewpoint 13mi
Aug 4, 2021
Ken Holt
Include the short detour to the first sunrise lake for a swim on your way back.
Jul 27, 2021
Karla Reyes
Two women 12.4mi — 6h 54m
Jul 14, 2021
Darshana Tuladhar
Jul 11, 2021
Gillian Chandler