Merced Lake

El Portal, California 95318

Merced Lake

Merced Lake Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Best done in three days with overnight stops at Little Yosemite Valley (on the way up) and Merced Lake, this hike is often done in two by energetic weekend hikers. Its route, up a fantastic river canyon, is one of the Sierra’s best.

Located at an elevation of about 7,200 feet, relatively large Merced Lake is about 2,000-plus feet lower than the popular lakes reached from Tuolumne Meadows’ trailheads, and therefore it—and the route to reach it—is snowfree sooner and stays accessible into the fall. Also, autumn snowstorms are not a serious concern at these elevations, making October forays quite safe."

More Merced Lake Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking Yosemite National Park (Falcon Guides)
Suzanne Swedo
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"Merced Lake is the site of the largest of the High Sierra Camps and the farthest from any trailhead. The hike up the Giant Staircase along the Merced River allows you to experience the river in its many moods and to appreciate the power of the glaciers that carved and polished the canyon. Expect lots of company; it's a popular route."

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Trail Information

El Portal
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
12-18 hours
Swimming, Camping
Additional Use
Views, Waterfalls, Wildflowers
Yosemite National Park
Local Contacts
Tom Harrison Yosemite High Country map (1:63,360 scale), the National Geographic Trails Illustrated #306 Yosemite SW map and #309 Yosemite SE map (1:40,000 scale), and the USGS 7.5-minute series Half Dome and Merced Peak maps (1:24,000 scale).
Local Maps

Trail Log