May Lake Trail

Yosemite National Park, California 95389

Elevation Gain550ft
Trailhead Elevation8,857ft
Elevation Min/Max8857/9356ft
Elevation Start/End8857/8857ft

May Lake Trail

May Lake Trail is a hiking trail in Mariposa County, California. It is within Yosemite National Park. It is 1.2 miles long and begins at 8,857 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 550 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. The trail ends near the Campground May Lake camp site and the May Lake High Sierra Camp hostel. There is also drinking water near the end of the trail. This trail connects with the following: Mt. Hoffmann Trail and Glen Aulin - May Lake Trail.

May Lake Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"May Lake High Sierra Camp is one of five popular back-country camps with tent cabins and other amenities that are available to visitors by reservation only.

You can hike in to spend the day with little effort, since it is the nearest of all the camps to a road (not counting Tuolumne Meadows Lodge). Mount Hoffman, at the geographical center of Yosemite, provides the backdrop to this idyllic lake."

"The view from the hemlock-ringed banks of May Lake is stark and impressive: steep, smooth granite slabs above a deep, dark-blue lake. It is a worthwhile picnic spot even though swimming is not permitted. A short detour onto granite slabs east of the lake is one of the best locations to absorb the vastness of the granite slabs around Tenaya Lake and the Cathedral Range. Note that the spur road to May Lake often opens several weeks after Tioga Road."

"May Lake is nestled between the towering eastern wall of Mount Hoffman. Located in the center of Yosemite, Mount Hoffman rises more than 1,500 feet out of May Lake to a height of 10,850 feet. The forested lake is home to the May Lake High Sierra Camp. The trail offers views across Tenaya Canyon and Cathedral Peak to the east and to Half Dome and Clouds Rest to the south. May Lake is a popular trout fishing lake."

"May Lake is a very popular destination because it is such a short hike. Dayhikers can reach it in under a half hour, and all but the slowest backpackers in under an hour. At 1.2 miles distance, May Lake has the most easily accessible campsites in the park, and so is ideal for novice backpackers or for those with young children. Additionally, these are good basecamp sites for an ascent of Mt. Hoffmann, although strong hikers can reach that summit in about an hour. Mt. Hoffmann, centrally located in Yosemite National Park, provides the best all-around views of this park’s varied landscapes. The 3.0-mile hike up to it is offered as a side trip, and if you do it, you will have a total ascent and descent of about 4200 feet."

"This is the High Sierra Camp most easily reached from the road (not counting Tuolumne Meadows Lodge) so you are bound to have plenty of company on the trail. The lake lies at the base of Mount Hoffman that marks the geographic center of the park. There are great views back down Tenaya Canyon toward Yosemite Valley along the way."

May Lake Trail Reviews

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vogelsang is in a fantastic spot. it's absolutely picturesque, set by a lake with huge granite rising up behind it. i hiked there going through lyell canyon, as it's easier to get permits for this trailhead, but requires another night camping. great hike.
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I would not describe the trail as easy or suitable for beginners, not so much because of the trail itself, but because of the trail in combination with the very high altitude. If you're a day hiker, it's probably fine, and May Lake itself is beautiful, with some stunning views of Half Dome and Lake Tenaya if you continue on the path past May Lake. But if you're carrying heavy packs, be prepared to take lots of rests. We were backpacking beyond the May Lake High Sierra Camp. If that's your plan, carry your water bottles empty to May Lake; you can fill them up there from the camp's potable water.

May Lake Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Yosemite National Park
Nearby City
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Tenaya Lake
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018