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May Lake Trail



2.6 mile 4.2 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,071' 326 m
Descent: -1' 0 m
High: 9,325' 2,842 m
Low: 8,256' 2,516 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)


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Trail shared by Isabel Jacobson

A winding trail with stunning views ending at one of Yosemite's greatest gems.

Isabel Jacobson

Features Birding · Lake · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Although a steady incline on the way out, kids will enjoy climbing up to see May Lake and will enjoy the little bit of rock hopping required to get to the end of the trail.

Typically closed mid October through the end of May.


The May Lake Trail will lead you to expansive views over granite peaks, a sparkling blue lake set below 10,000ft. The trail moves upwards gradually in the beginning but continues in incline until you hit switchbacks. The trail ascends over sections granite hillsides through patches of pine tree3s which makes the trail at times a bit slippery so be careful. As you make your way along the trail do not forget to stop and check out the picturesque views. Among them are views of clouds rest and Tenaya Lake. It is considered one of the most scenic lake hikes throughout Yosemite. While the steepness of the trail and the increase in elevation can pose as a bit difficult for some, and while few would consider it super easy, most find it to be a totally doable hike.

If given the opportunity I highly recommend this hike. For many they consider it one of the best hikes in the park. in order to find comparable views on other hikes you'll usually need to hike at least 6 or more miles. For me, it almost feels like cheating to have such breathtaking views with such easy and short access.

May Lake itself is a circular lake that is fairly large. The views from the lake include that of the steep granite face of Mt. Hoffmann. The location is stunning though fairly crowded so it does not afford much privacy. May lake is also home to one Yosemites' High Sierra Camps.which does allow for the bonus of having toilet access at the lake. The north and west edges are closed to protect the delicate environment. You can swim in the lake and I have even come across people paddle boarding. May Lake is one of the best, easily-accessed places for photographing the iconic Yosemite image of jagged granite peaks reflected in calm blue waters. If your kids are up for a bit of an uphill hike this is definitely one you can take them on. Many families will use this hike as a begining hike to introduce there children to backpacking, At any age however if you are trying to get a feel of what backpacking is like this is a great option due to the steepness the increase in elevation and the short distance.

Flora & Fauna

Do to the high foot traffic there are not many animals along the trail. It is possible to glimpse a bird or squirrel but other than that seeing another animal is unlikely.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed


Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

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Sep 18, 2019
Brynna cadman
May lake
Sep 4, 2019
Olivia Lynn
RT to attempted Hoffman Summit, hail and thunderstorms
Aug 13, 2019
Sophia Barwegen
Aug 12, 2019
Sophia Barwegen
Jul 16, 2019
Sophia Barwegen
Jul 14, 2019
Cesar Rosales
Check parking ahead of time, the next parking lot will add 2 miles to the hike.
Oct 28, 2018
Get Out There!
Oct 8, 2018
Dustin Kunze

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 6 votes


  4.3 from 6 votes
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in California


8 Views Last Month
672 Since Aug 27, 2015



Passing May Lake on the trail up to Mt. Hoffman.
Feb 4, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA


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