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 Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Easy Day Hikes: Yosemite National Park (Falcon Guides)
Suzanne Swedo
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"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."
50 Best Short Hikes: Yosemite National Park and Vicinity (Wilderness Press)
Elizabeth Wenk
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"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."
Top Trails Yosemite (Wilderness Press)
Jeffrey P. Schaffer & Elizabeth Wenk
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"May Lake is a very popular destination because it is such a short hike. Day hikers can reach it in a half hour and most backpackers in under an hour. At 1.2 miles from the trailhead, May Lake has the most easily accessible backcountry campsites in the park, so it is ideal for novice backpackers or for those with young children. Additionally, these are good base-camp sites for an ascent of Mount Hoffmann, to which most hikers dedicate a half day. Mount Hoffmann, centrally located in Yosemite National Park, provides the best all-around views of this park’s varied landscapes. This summit is reached by at least 50 day hikers on sunny midsummer days, as well as a good proportion of the backpackers staying at May Lake overnight."
Hiking Yosemite National Park (Falcon Guides)
Suzanne Swedo
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"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 Trip Reports

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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
Skill Level
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers
Yosemite National Park
Local Contacts
Tom Harrison Yosemite High Country map (1:63,360 scale), the National Geographic Trails Illustrated #308 Yosemite NE map (1:40,000 scale), and the USGS 7.5-minute series Tenaya Lake and Yosemite Falls maps (1:24,000 scale).
Local Maps

Trail Log