Clouds Rest Trail

Yosemite National Park, California 95389

Distance5.6mi
Elevation Gain3,250ft
Trailhead Elevation9,229ft
Top9,775ft
Elevation Min/Max8153/9775ft
Elevation Start/End9229/9229ft

Clouds Rest Trail

Clouds Rest Trail is a hiking trail in Mariposa County, California. It is within Yosemite National Park. It is 5.6 miles long and begins at 9,229 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 11.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,250 feet. Near the end of the trail are restrooms. This trail connects with the following: Pack Trail, Sunrise Lakes Trail and Tenaya Lake Trail.

Clouds Rest Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Top Trails Yosemite (Wilderness Press)
Jeffrey P. Schaffer & Elizabeth Wenk
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"Though Clouds Rest is higher than Half Dome, it is easier and safer to climb, and it provides far better views of the park than does the more popular, crowded Half Dome. Except for its last 0.1 mile, the Clouds Rest Trail lacks the terrifying exposure found along Half Dome’s shoulder and back side, thereby making it a good trail for acrophobic photographers, especially because the views from just before the final narrow ridge to the summit are already superb and worth the trip. If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll want to start this trek at the crack of dawn to reach this summit before shadows become poor for photography. All hikers should strive to reach this summit by noon or thereabouts if thunderstorms are forecast for the afternoon."
Hiking The Sierra Nevada (Falcon Guides)
Barry Parr
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"A gargantuan presence looming in the background of countless Yosemite Valley views, Clouds Rest is both the highest point on the valley rim and the largest continuous rock slope in the Sierra Nevada. Its 9, 926-foot summit provides sublime vistas in all directions, especially down."
100 Classic Hikes in Southern California (The Mountaineers Books)
Allen Riedel
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"This summit not only has the loftiest name of the mountains that overlook Yosemite Valley, but it also has the most commanding view over the grandeur that is Yosemite. Half Dome sits well below the apex of Clouds Rest, and the jaw-dropping 360degree view encapsulates some of the finest vistas in the entire Sierra Nevada Range. Toward the trailhead, Tenaya Canyon adorns a tableau that resembles an ethereal painting more than reality. One might expect to see the colossal hand of god reaching down to create brushstrokes when staring into the east toward the canyon, the high Tuoloumne area, and Tenaya Lake."
Hiking Yosemite National Park (Falcon Guides)
Suzanne Swedo
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"The narrow summit of Clouds Rest is the best seat in the house for enjoying the drama of Yosemite Valley and the country around it. From this vantage point, the star of the show, Half Dome, appears impossibly enormous as it thrusts its way up from the flat valley floor. The Sunrise Lakes trailhead at Tenaya Lake is the nearest and most direct route to Clouds Rest, but is still a hard workout as a day hike. Fortunately, you can spend the night near a tributary of Tenaya Creek about 4.5 miles from the start."
100 Hikes in California's Central Sierra & Coast Range (The Mountaineers Books)
Vicky Spring & Tom Kirkendall
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"Most veteran Yosemite Park hikers consider the view from Clouds Rest to be the best in the park. What more needs to be said? This is a long trip, and many hikers prefer a backpack trip over a one-day marathon hike with a chance of thunderstorms rather than views at the end. No water is available on the dry ridge that leads to Clouds Rest. The closest water and comfortable campsites are located 3 miles below the summit, along a tributary of Tenaya Creek."
101 Hikes in Northern California: Exploring Mountains, Valleys, and Seashore (Wilderness Press)
Matt Heid
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"Let’s face it, Yosemite Valley is crazy. If the congestion there is too much for you, then you should be on the Tioga Road. And if you’re on the Tioga Road, you should be climbing Clouds Rest."

Clouds Rest Trail Trip Reports

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9/3/2011
Clouds rest is fabulous. A little scary to cross over to the plateau, but well worth it. Great views and great destination. The distance, altitude and the initial climb of this trail do make it strenuous. Bring lots of water. Rocky path!
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7/17/2009
Clouds Rest was by far one of the most beautiful spots on earth. It is a better view than Half dome which we could see from the summit of Clouds Rest. It is not easy but easier than Half Dome. It took 3 hours to get to the top and 3 hours down. I give this hike 5 stars.
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4/15/2004
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Clouds Rest Trail Photos

Trail Information

Yosemite National Park
Nearby City
Yosemite National Park
Parks
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Camping
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers
Features
Yosemite National Park
Local Contacts
Tom Harrison Tuolumne Meadows map (1:42,240 scale), the National Geographic Trails Illustrated #309 Yosemite SE map (1:40,000 scale), and the USGS 7.5-minute series Tenaya Lake map (1:24,000 scale).
Local Maps

Trail Log