View across Mountain Lake, with pine forests in background, along Clouds Rest Trail
Serj Kotovsky/

Clouds Rest Trail

Updated by Pat Dorri on December 7 2023

Hiking Clouds Rest Trail in Yosemite National Park offers a less crowded trek through breath taking landscapes, and a stunning 360-degree summit viewing the Yosemite wilderness, with clear sights of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley.

An overview of the distance and difficulty hiking Clouds Rest Trail
πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ Distance12.5 miles
⏱️ Time11 hours
πŸ’ͺ DifficultyAdvanced
πŸ”οΈ Elevation Gain3,150 feet

Where can I find Clouds Rest Trail within Yosemite National Park?

The trailhead for Clouds Rest Trail is in the heart of Yosemite National Park, right on Tioga Road. If you're starting out to the east of the park, use the Tioga Pass Entrance and follow Tioga Road for around 25 miles.

For visitors beginning their journey further west in California, the Big Oak Flat Entrance is closer. Continue on Big Oak Flat Road as far as Crane Flat then turn left onto Tioga Road. You'll find the trailhead at the western end of Tenaya Lake.

There's a small parking area at Sunrise Lakes Trailhead. As long as you follow signage and avoid the nearby no parking area, there's also roadside parking if the main lot is full.

What makes this hike so special?

The Clouds Rest Trail brings you to a crescendo at one of Yosemite's most spectacular views, and on a clear day you can see for miles. It's a treasured and renowned trail to add to your Yosemite itinerary.

[th]Feature[/th][th]Our rating[/th]
How we rate the different aspects of Clouds Rest Trail.
Natural beauty and scenery⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wildlife spotting⭐⭐⭐
Peace and quiet⭐⭐⭐⭐
View from high up into Yosemite Valley, fog setting in
Stunning views across Yosemite Valley can be enjoyed along Clouds Rest Trail.
Oleg Bakhirev/

What are the highlights of hiking Clouds Rest Trail?

Take the Clouds Rest Trail and you can expect to pass through lush forests and rugged terrain as you travel towards the memorable summit. There are plenty of amazing sites to also enjoy on the way.

  1. Tenaya Lake - Known as the "jewel of the high country," the crystal-clear waters here are surrounded by granite peaks, ideal for picnicking and kayaking.
  2. Tenaya Canyon - A rugged and less-traveled area below Tenaya Peak, featuring steep granite cliffs and challenging terrain.
  3. Half Dome - Yosemite's iconic granite monolith, attracting adventurers to its challenging trails.
  4. Clouds Rest - A mountain ridge in Yosemite National Park, renowned for its distinctive shape and panoramic views
  5. Yosemite Valley - The centerpiece of the park, offering awe-inspiring views of waterfalls, cliffs, and unique rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome.

When is the best time of year to visit Clouds Rest Trail?

Clouds Rest Trail is a great hike during spring and fall, when the paths are quieter with less chance of snow on the ground. Whenever you choose to visit there are no need for permits unlike the Half Dome Trail, similar in terms of challenge and elevation.

When is the best time to visit Clouds Rest Trail
Spring🌷Spring is an ideal time to make this hike, with thawing snow, blooming wildflowers, and more moderate temperatures.
Summerβ˜€οΈ Summer is the most popular season with extended daylight hours, however you can also expect this to be a busy time to visit.
FallπŸ‚ Aim for September for the best chance of avoiding any snow on the trail, coupled with stunning fall colors to enjoy.
Winter❄️ Given its high elevation, snow lingers on parts of Clouds Rest Trail even in summer, so be prepared for more technical hiking if there's snow on the ground.

Common questions about hiking Clouds Rest Trail

Clouds Rest Trail takes you across the incredible landscape, with some of the most impressive parts of Yosemite National Park revealed as you make your way. However facilities en route are limited, so make sure to be well prepared before heading off.

Is Clouds Rest Trail easily accessible for those with mobility issues?

❌ No, Clouds Rest Trail is a strenuous hike and not a walk with a view that's suitable for novices.

❗ There are steep drop offs at the summit, so this hike might not be first choice if you suffer from vertigo.

Are there restrooms along Clouds Rest Trail?

❌ No, there are no restrooms along Clouds Rest Trail.

Are there refreshments and water stations along Clouds Rest Trail?

❌ No, there are no refreshments or water stations along Clouds Rest Trail. Make sure to pack enough supplies ahead of your hike.

Are dogs allowed along Clouds Rest Trail?

❌ No, dogs are not allowed along Clouds Rest Trail.

Are vehicles allowed along Clouds Rest Trail?

❌ No, cars, electric scooters, and ATVs are not allowed on Clouds Rest Trail.

Can you camp overnight along Clouds Rest Trail (or nearby)?

❌ No, you can not overnight along Clouds Rest Trail.

❗ There are camping spots a short drive away, including Porcupine Flat around 7 miles along Tioga Road, or Tuolumne Meadows Campground (please note, it is expected to be closed for improvement work until 2025)

Is there anything else to watch out for when I hike Clouds Rest Trail?

Tioga Pass Road closes completely between November and May, so you won't be able to access the trailhead near Tenaya Lake at this time of year.

Think carefully about leaving snacks in your car for the end of your hike as Yosemite's black bears will damage vehicles to get at any food they think is inside! Use the bear boxes in the parking lot instead.

Posted hiking trail sign with the distances in miles to Cloud's Rest, Half Dome and Yosemite Valley
The Clouds Rest Trail reviews some of the most incredible views in Yosemite, including Half Dome.
Sundry Photography/