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Yosemite National Park, California, United States

Clouds Rest

The best place to enjoy the view of Half Dome from the top.

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 (7 votes, 5 reviews)
Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 12.1 miles / 19.5 km
Duration: Full day
Overview: Cloud's Rest, a massive granite formation just northeast of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, is famous for its very high degree of visual prominence in the valley as well as its razor-sharp ridge near the summit. For people who have hiked Cloud's Rest, they are most impressed with the thrilling feeling they have while scrambling up the narrow ridge, with sheer drop-offs on both sides, to the summit. The fastest way to day hike Cloud's Rest starts from the Sunrise Lakes trailhead on Tioga Road near Tenaya Lake.

From the trailhead, you start the hike by following the trail markers for Sunrise H.S.C. After the first 1.5 mile hike on the relatively flat trail, you begin to climb up the lower slope below Sunrise Mountain. The switchbacks on the slope will surely pound your heart as you are gaining 1,000 feet in elevation in just one mile before reaching the top of the slope.

On the top, you immediately encounter the Y junction for either Cloud's Rest or Sunrise Lakes. Bear right for Cloud's Rest and begin to follow the trail markers for it from now on. The trail beyond the junction (called Forsyth Trail) descends sharply for 0.5 miles until you reach the flat land below Sunrise Mountain. The trail on the land is about 1.7 miles long and traverses beautiful woods and a nice lake before you encounter the next junction.

Bear right at the T junction for Cloud's Rest and you are about 1.5 miles away from it (though the marker says 2.5 miles). Since you're approaching Cloud's Rest from its back, you only begin to see it after passing the junction. Keep hiking up on the trail until you encounter the marker for Cloud's Rest Foot Trail. Use extreme caution beyond this point as the passway on the top of Cloud's Rest is narrow and both sides are sheer drip-offs. You can enjoy the spectacular views of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon and surrounding mountains after a short scramble to the summit where you can find a geology mark on it. Take the same way back to the Sunrise Lakes trailhead once you're ready to return.

Tips: Be sure to bring a lot of water or water filter instead.

Points of Interest


Sunrise Lake Trail Head (8,170 feet)

The trail head for both Clouds Rest and Sunrise Lake HSC (High Sierra Camp) is located at the west end of Tenaya Lake. Enter the gate at the parking lot and follow the trail southward for Sunrise HSC until you meet the next trail junction.

Trail Junction (8,170 ft.)

At the junction, continue hiking on the trail for Sunrise HSC (High Sierra Camp) and cross Tenaya Creek until you meet the next trail junction.

Trail Junction (8,150 ft.)

At the junction, continue hiking on the trail for Sunrise HSC (High Sierra Camp) until you meet the next trail junction.

Trail Junction (8,160 ft.)

At the junction, continue hiking on the trail for Sunrise HSC. In about 1.2 miles, you start hiking on a steep slope below Sunrise Mountain. Continue ascending on the slope for 1 mile until you reach the top of it.

Trail Junction (9,230 ft.)

At the top of the slope, go for the trail for Clouds Rest and you start descending right away. After descending for 350 feet in elevation, you arrive at a beatiful meadow. Continue hiking on the trail southward, pass a nice lake and you will meet the next trail junction which is about 2.1 miles away from the top of the slope.

Trail Junction (9,100 ft.)

At the junction, turn right and continue hiking on the trail for Clouds Rest. In 1.5 miles, you will arrive at the north end of the infamous Clouds Rest foot trail.

North End of Clouds Rest Foot Trail (9,780 ft.)

This is it. Scramble up on the ridge with extreme caution to get to the summit of Clouds Rest. The narrowest section of the trail is probably just under 10 feet wide with sheer drop-offs on both sides.

Clouds Rest (9,930 feet)

At the top of Clouds Rest, enjoy the overlooking view of Half Dome and its subdome. Also enjoy the views of Mt. Clark, Tenaya Canyon, Yosemite Valley, North Dome, Sentinel Dome, ..... Take the same way back to the trail head once you're done.
Pictures in this guide taken by: jasonchiu
Long hike with priceless views. Started at 10 and finished just before 6. If I was going to hike this again I would start earlier to beat the heat and stay longer on the summit. Worth the time spent hiking for the spectacular view of the park. My kind of hike.
Visited on Aug 15, 2015

by natyd on Aug 17, 2015
had so much fun there.. wonderful experience

by galiliosharma on Mar 13, 2015
This is a beautiful hike! A definite recommendation along with Half Dome! Benefit of hiking Clouds Rest is that you don't need a permit! Make sure to bring lots of water!
Visited on Aug 24, 2012

by Kvanboven90 on Apr 05, 2013
This is my favorite day hike of all time. Start out early from the valley floor. There is something magical about how desolate it is along the way. I rarely ever see another human past the fork to Half Dome. The views are spectacular! You can't see the peak of Cloud's Rest so you just keep going. On years that the snow is still high, just pack your snow shoes. The times that there have been snow for hours, the top makes me a little dizzy for lack of oxygen. It's a long hike so bring your headlamp in case you get stuck in the dark on the way down. I take an energy drink with me to sip and it works wonders.
Visited on May 18, 2012

by gwestcott on Jul 29, 2012
This is a fantastic hike! Mostly flat to start, then a few sets of switchbacks. The last 1/4 mile is a little scary if you're not into heights, you hike along a slim ridge before you get to the end, but it's worth it for the view.

If you can catch it, there's a point in the fall where the trees that line the valley's walls will be yellow on the edges, but green in the center, because the outside ones insulate the inside ones from the cold. Glorious.

Visited on Sep 30, 2008

by koosh on Jan 09, 2012

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About the Author

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The beauty of summit is that they'll still be there tomorrow. You can always come back and try again.

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