Tioga Road (West of Olmsted Point) Backpacking Trails

This page contains samples of backpacking trips that leave from Tioga Road west of May Lake. If you're interested in high country backpacking, remember to also consider trails from Tuolumne Meadows.

View of Mt. Hoffman from May Lake

May Lake

Highlights: Lakes

Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) round trip

Elevation Gain: 400 feet (120 m)

Permit Demand: Very High

Trailhead: May Lake

May Lake is north of the Tioga Road, near Tenaya Lake. The lake sits at the foot of Mt. Hoffmann, the geographic center of the park. There is a backpackers campground as well as a High Sierra Camp. Great for new backpackers, this is the shortest backpacking trip in Yosemite. It is also used to access an unofficial, unmarked spur trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Hoffmann.

Looking down into the Ten Lakes Basin

Ten Lakes

Highlights: Lakes

Distance: 11.8 miles (18.3 km) round trip

Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet (460 m)

Permit Demand: Medium

Trailhead: Ten Lakes

The Ten Lakes Basin is perched above the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. Hikers ascend through forests to the panoramic Ten Lakes Pass before descending to the lakes.

Looking down into the Ten Lakes Basin

Ten Lakes to Tenaya Lake

Highlights: Lakes, High Country

Distance: 20.4 miles / 32.8 km one way

Elevation Gain: 4350 feet / 1325 M

Permit Demand: Medium

Trailhead: Ten Lakes

This hike goes through the scenic Ten Lakes Basin, hooks around Tuolumne Peak, and ends at Tenaya Lake (the reverse is also possible, starting at Sunrise Lakes trailhead). Hikers travel through old forests, over panoramic passes, and into the quiet South Fork of Cathedral Creek. There are views of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, the northern mountains of Yosemite, and Tuolumne Meadows.

Tuolumne Fall near Glen Aulin

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

Highlights: Waterfalls

Distance: 30.8 miles (49.6 km) one way

Elevation Gain: 5,350 feet (1,630 m)

Permit Demand: Medium

Trailhead: White Wolf

Starting at White Wolf, the hike begins with a steep descent to Pate Valley and a loss of 4,000 feet (1,200 m) in elevation. From Pate Valley, the trail climbs over the Muir Gorge and past the canyon’s largest waterfalls—Waterwheel, Le Conte, and California. Glen Aulin is the final place to camp before exiting to Tuolumne Meadows. (Public transportation may be available to help you travel between starting and ending trailheads.) (This hike is also possible in reverse, starting at the Glen Aulin trailhead.)

View from on top of North Dome

North Dome

Highlights: Valley Views

Distance: 10.4 miles (16.7 km) round trip

Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet (335 m)

Permit Demand: Medium

Trailhead: Porcupine Creek

The trail descends through pine forests to the top of North Dome on the northern rim of Yosemite Valley. There are views of Indian Rock, Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon, and Yosemite Valley.

View of Half Dome from the summit of El Capitan

El Capitan from Tamarack Creek

Highlights: Valley Views

Distance: 21.6 miles / 20.2 km out and back

Elevation Gain: 1700 feet / 520 M

Permit Demand: Low

Trailhead: Tamarack Creek

Starting at Tioga Road, hikers travel through vast forests and over small creeks to reach the summit of El Capitan. Once at the summit, there are expansive views of Yosemite Valley and the high country.

Last updated: August 14, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info



Contact Us