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Happy Isles to Clouds Rest

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 5.0 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Hike to Clouds Rest from the Yosemite Valley.


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Map Key

18.3

Miles

29.5

KM

Loop

9,729' 2,965 m

High

4,047' 1,233 m

Low

5,782' 1,762 m

Up

5,782' 1,762 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

62%

Max Grade (32°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Overview

This hike starts at Happy Isles, the starting point of the famous Half Dome route, and forks off the Half Dome trail to head over to Clouds Rest. This is a long hike with over 6,000 feet of vertical elevation gain, in addition to the 18+ miles of round trip hiking. Plan for a very long day and get an early start.

Description

Clouds Rest is a massive granite peak just northeast of Half Dome. The peak can be seen from Yosemite Valley, and at 9,930 ft. is about 1,080 ft. higher than the more famous Half Dome. The peak offers excellent views of Half Dome and the surrounding area.

Clouds Rest is a great hike if you are unable to secure a permit for Half Dome or if you are looking for a longer trail with more elevation gain. For the most part, the trail to Clouds Rest follows the Half Dome Trail, and then splits about 1.5 miles before the Half Dome summit.

Along the trail, you'll see up-close amazing views of two waterfalls—Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls—get to hike across Little Yosemite Valley, and finally experience the beautiful summit with its expansive views.

The peak can also be reached using the Sunrise Lakes Trail from Tenaya Lake. The description below is for the longer hike starting at the Yosemite Valley.

Start the route at Happy Isles, past the river from the bus stop. Hike to the first bridge and then continue on JMT: Segment 1 - Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows. Shortly, you'll come to a fork and have to pick between the Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail. Both trails merge later at the top of Nevada Falls. If you pick the Mist Trail (open only in summer), you pass very close to Vernal Falls and get a great up close view of Nevada Falls as well. At the top of Nevada Falls, there is a restroom. This is where the two trails meet again.

Continue hiking as the trail gets flatter and reaches Little Yosemite Valley. At the end of Little Yosemite Valley, turn left as the trail start climbing up the hillside. The next important intersection is the fork between the Half Dome and the Clouds Rest Trail. Take the right fork which follows the John Muir Trail towards Clouds Rest. After a little bit of hiking, you'll pass a trailhead for Clouds Rest Trail on your left. Follow this, leaving the John Muir Trail, which continues to the right. Follow Clouds Rest Trail all the way to the summit of Clouds Rest.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

Shared By:

Pushkar S with improvements by S P

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 5 votes

#535

Overall
  5.0 from 5 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#89

in California

#535

Overall
272 Views Last Month
7,290 Since May 15, 2018
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Photos

Such an incredible spot in Yosemite. Clouds Rest is appropriately named with 360 views of the park including Half Dome.
May 26, 2016 near Yosemit…, CA
Vernal Fall mistin' the rainbow
May 7, 2015 near Yosemit…, CA
Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park.
Aug 11, 2017 near Yosemit…, CA
Looking back down the Mist Trail, you can see it ascends this phenomenal valley.
Mar 31, 2017 near Yosemit…, CA
Mist Trail
Feb 12, 2018 near Yosemit…, CA
Vernal Falls is quite spectacular from above.
May 28, 2017 near Yosemit…, CA

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Check-Ins

Jul 25, 2020
Corey D
Sep 10, 2019
Peter Hike
Very strenuous hike. Would not recommend hiking Mist Trail back after sunset as switchbacks are steep and slippery. 18.3mi — 8h 30m
Aug 15, 2019
Sophia Barwegen
Aug 10, 2019
William Scott
23 miles from the Trailhead Parking Lot. Stopped by the top of Nevada Falls on the way down since we didn't check it out on the way up 23mi — 13h 30m
Jan 19, 2019
Jake Kiekenapp
Sep 15, 2018
Huiling Zhai
sun rise hike
Jun 29, 2018
Sophia Barwegen
Sep 18, 2017
Joseph Matan