Today’s Mileage: 7.3 mi / +800′, -2,800′ Hiking Half Dome is an unforgettable experience, but I’d choose Clouds Rest any day of the week, if only for the solitude. We have more answers to frequently asked questions. This means that the priority permit station will not allow other permit stations to issue a permit for its trailheads until its morning line is cleared. Day 2: Hike to lower Cathedral Lake (7 miles) and camp there. The hike fittingly known as Clouds Rest sits more than 1,000 feet above the iconic Half Dome and provides arguably the best view in all of Yosemite National Park. Facing east (depicted in the cover shot), you can see Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, the Sierra Nevadas and, if you strain your eyes, parts of northern Wisconsin. If you plan to backpack and camp in the wilderness area around Clouds Rest, an overnight permit is required though. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. That would make holiday travel pretty tough. In late summer it’s easy to skip across the meager trickle of water, but during wet peri… From Clouds Rest's airy and cozy summit, the most undeniable natural feature is the Northwest Face, a stunning 5000-foot drop into Tenaya Canyon. The trek down from Clouds Rest is a steep winding descent to Sunrise Creek; along the way stunning views of Half Dome with El Capitan in the distance are framed by massive ancient junipers. Check out our Yosemite - Two Summits guided backpacking adventure for details! And unlike Half Dome, for the Clouds Rest hike, no permit is needed, the distance and climbing is manageable, and you don’t have to navigate anything like the anxiety-inducing cables section. Permits are available one day in advance of your trip. Make sure to take in the view as you gain elevation on your way up to Sunrise Lakes. The back end of Cloud's Rest appears to the west. You can add another person to your wilderness permit reservation for an additional fee as long as space is still available for that trailhead. Once past the falls, which makes for a natural rest stop, you’ll continue on (the trails briefly merge after Vernal Falls, so as long as you’re generally heading north/northeast, you’re in good shape), and just past the backpacker’s camp, you’ll come to a figurative fork in the road. Only one permit is required. Common examples: Continuous travel is a condition of a wilderness itinerary in which the user travels from a Yosemite National Park entry trailhead to the exit trailhead during the dates specified in the permit. At about 2.5 miles, you'll reach an intersection with the Sunrise Lakes Trail that heads off to the east. Wilderness permits are available during business hours at any permit issuing station beginning at 11 am the day before the beginning of your wilderness trip. There is a lottery system for day hikers, but it’s also possible to secure a permit when reserving the backpacking permit. Note: I used to think all campers were irie until I saw a few people go all Black Friday on some of these lineups. When I was first getting into camping, it took a few hard fails before I fully digested the importance of the permit application process and subsequent lottery. Wilderness permit reservations are available (and strongly recommended) up to 24 weeks (168 days) in advance, and up until nine before your hike. Travel by vehicle or bus at any time during a wilderness itinerary invalidates the wilderness permit. Nobody else continued on to Clouds Rest. As soon as the crowd starts to thin (depending on what time you start), the first push is an even, quality burn, and I’d recommend taking the John Muir Trial the first few miles up to Vernal Falls. You’ll start on Tioga Road at the west end of Tenaya Lake (Sunrise trailhead), and begin the hike with a view of the lake on the left. There is no such exception for Yosemite Valley. All reservations (same day and next day) and same-day unreserved permits may still be picked up when the wilderness center opens for the day. From approximately May through October, unreserved permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11 am on the day before the intended hiking date. In order to continue backpacking, you would need a new wilderness permit. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/clouds-rest-trail Like virtual reality, but without the virtual part. It’s a little less travelled, provides nice middleground views of the falls and the backside of Half Dome, and is fairly shaded in the morning (for those traveling during warmer months; I last went in late May, and it was almost 90 degrees on the valley floor and about 40 degrees at the summit). Had to fight with the Half Dome day hikers some of the way. By: © 2020 The Outbound Collective - Terms of Use - Privacy Policy. This service is especially helpful for those who have gotten a first-come, first-served permit the day before beginning their hike. Wilderness permit holders may spend one night prior to, and one night after, a backpacking trip in a backpackers' campground (summer only). Permit check by a floating park ranger should be in and around this area. Wilderness permits are only issued to a limited number people for each trailhead in order to provide outstanding opportunities for solitude, as required by the Wilderness Act. Total 360. If you missed out on snagging a Half Dome permit and are looking for a great alternative hike, then the Clouds Rest trail is a great choice. If your starting trailhead is outside Yosemite National Park, get your permit from the land agency that manages that trailhead. 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. The summit can be reached by a 7.2-mile (11.6 km) trail hike from Tioga Pass Road or a 13-mile (21 km) trail hike from Happy Isles by way of Little Yosemite Valley.There are also several technical routes available. You must pick up a wilderness permit at the permit station closest to your starting point (when these permit stations are closed for the season, permits are available on a self-registration basis). However, if you are planning to stay overnight in a Yosemite campsite, apply for a permit months prior to your trip. Although the Half Dome hike typically gets all the attention, hiking Clouds Rest actually takes you to a higher summit that offers a panoramic vista which includes an unbeatable view of Half Dome itself. If there is, I’m really not sure what it is. With no water source near the summit of Cloud’s Rest, we needed to bring enough water for our hike in, that evening’s dinner, the next morning’s breakfast, and the next afternoon’s hike out. The cabin is generally open during the same time as the Badger Pass Ski Area, which is typically mid-December through March (as long as there is enough snow for skiing). The Clouds Rest Trail winds its way through wildflower-covered meadows, forests and rocks before it starts the steep switchbacking (at times stair step) climb. If you are starting at a trailhead in Yosemite and wish to camp outside of Yosemite during your Wilderness trip, you will only need to get a single wilderness permit from Yosemite. 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. 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