Half Dome lottery permits are nearly impossible to get. That hike can be unnerving for those afraid of heights. If you missed out on clambering up the cables, don’t fret. Hiking Clouds Rest out of Tuolumne Meadows is just as much of a thigh-burner, and perhaps, even more stunning than the iconic granite dome.
The shortest way to Clouds Rest begins at Sunrise Trailhead, by Tenaya Lake. Get there early because this parking fills up F-A-S-T during the summer. This trailhead sits around 7000 feet, as a heads up if you’re prone to the effects of higher elevations.
The trail is primarily flat with two sections of real elevation gain. At about 1.5 miles, you gain 1000 feet in elevation up the slopes of Sunrise Mountain.
At the top of these switchbacks, take the right fork to Clouds Rest. The trail goes down and then flattens out again, passing through a forested area and a small lake.
After about 1.7 miles, the trail diverges again. Stay right for Clouds Rest, a mile and a half away. Here, the trail goes sharply uphill.
Once you reach the Clouds Rest Foot Trail, you’re almost there! This section traverses across a narrow ridge. It is fairly safe, but don’t lose your footing. You’ll plummet. Don’t forget to take in the views.
Some say Clouds Rest is better than Half Dome. I think it’s completely different and slightly less dangerous. Either way though, it’s a trail that you shouldn’t miss if you’re going through Yosemite National Park.
Next time, I’d love to do this from Yosemite Valley and catch sunrise from Clouds Rest.
To get back to the trailhead, retrace your steps. At the end of your hike, jump into Tenaya Lake. You earned it after 12.3 miles and 3000 feet of elevation gain.
What else is there to do in Yosemite National Park? Seattle Bred has a 3-day guide to Yosemite. Try scoring some walk-in permits for Half Dome. Head to Young Lakes and Ragged Peak.
Gear for hiking Clouds Rest: Arc’teryx Motus Long Sleeve, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25, Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie, Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX, and Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles