Crane Flat Area HikesTwo of Yosemite's three groves of giant sequoias are located in the Crane Flat area. The trailheads are accessible year-round, although trails may be snow-covered winter. Both short hikes lead downhill into sheltered areas with flowing water, dogwood, azaleas, and ancient sequoia trees.
Tuolumne Grove & Nature Trail (moderate)2.5 mi/4 km round trip; 500 ft/152 m elevation gain on the return trip. 1-2 hours.
Begin at the Tuolumne Grove parking lot on Tioga Road
Follow the Old Big Oak Flat Road—one of the first roads into Yosemite Valley—steeply down 0.8 mile (1.3 km) through sugar pines and white firs to the “Entering the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias” sign. The first sequoia is 0.2 mile (0.3 km) past the sign. To see more sequoias, follow established trails through the grove. Take a 0.5-mile (0.8-km) nature trail through the grove to learn more about these giant trees. Begin the trail at the Tunnel Tree, then bear left down the road, and cross the bridge at the right side of the picnic area. To return to the parking area, take the road uphill. The road downhill continues 4.5 miles (7.2 km) to the Hodgdon Meadow area.
Merced Grove (moderate)3 mi/4.8 km round trip; 520 ft/158 m elevation gain on return. 1-3 hours.
Begin at the Merced Grove parking lot on Big Oak Flat Road
This trail follows an old road that curves down into the Merced Grove, the smallest and most secluded of Yosemite’s three sequoia groves. Follow the trail for 0.6 miles (1 km), then bear left at the junction. An old cabin, the former summer retreat of park superintendents, is part of the grove’s history. Look for dogwoods blooming here in the spring.
White Wolf Area Hikes
Tioga Road, which provides the only access by car to these hikes, usually opens around late May or early June, depending on conditions. Even after the road opens, trails can remain wet and/or snowy for some time. The Tioga Road usually closes sometime in November.
Lukens Lake from Tioga Road (easy)
1.6 mi/2.6 km round-trip; 200 ft/60 m elevation gain. 1-2 hours.
The trail winds through a mixed conifer forest, then over a saddle and down to a small mountain lake surrounded by a meadow. Shooting stars and dozens of other species of wildflowers abound, often through July. Please stay on designated trails to protect the meadow. The trail is wet and muddy until early August.
Lukens Lake from White Wolf (moderate)
4.6 mi/7.5 km round-trip; 400 ft/120 m elevation gain. 2-3 hours.
Follow the trail through a mixed conifer forest to Lukens Lake, a small mountain lake surrounded by a meadow. The trail crosses the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne River and is wet and muddy until early August. At the lake, shooting stars and dozens of other species of wildflowers abound, often through July. Please stay on designated trails to protect the meadow.
Harden Lake (moderate)
5.8 mi/9.3 km round-trip; 355 ft/110 m elevation gain on the return trip. 2-4 hours.
Hike along a gravel road—part of the original Tioga Road—that follows the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne River for part of the route. At a trail junction 1.75 miles (2.8 km) down the road, follow the signs to the lake. The trail passes by small granite domes and through a forest of red fir and lodgepole pine to reach boulder-dotted Harden Lake.
Optional loop to the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. 8.4 miles (13.5 km) loop. 1,000-foot (305-m) elevation gain on the return trip. 5-8 hours.
Beyond Harden Lake, descend into a large aspen grove full of seasonal flowers, which can be wet and muddy until early August. At the next trail junction, 1.3 miles (2 km) from Harden Lake, turn south towards Lukens Lake and continue towards the White Wolf junction for 2.7 miles (4.3 km). Follow the trail 0.8 miles (1.3 km) back to White Wolf Lodge.
May Lake (moderate)
2.4 mi/3.9 km round-trip; 485 ft/150 m elevation gain. 1-2 hours.
A short trail leads through a conifer forest and across granite slabs to reach May Lake. Enjoy views of Half Dome and surrounding mountains on the way.
North Dome (strenuous)
10.4 mi/16.7 km round-trip; 580 ft/180 m elevation gain on return trip. 5-8 hours.
Wind through mixed-conifer forest for 0.7 miles (1 km) on a paved path, and cross Porcupine Creek. At each of several trail junctions, follow the signs toward North Dome. The trail passes through a small grassy meadow and descends along a ridge. Near the end of the hike, descend steep rock steps to the base of North Dome. Climb the dome’s rounded summit to take in a magnificent view of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley. On the return trip you can take a short detour on a side trail, 0.3 mile (0.5 km) to an unusual natural arch, Indian Rock.
Ten Lakes (strenuous)
12.6 mi/20.3 km round-trip; 2,200 ft/671 m elevation gain. 6-8 hours
Follow this trail through conifers and across granite to cross a tributary of Yosemite Creek. Take care on this crossing early in the season when the creek is high. Continue on the trail to Ten Lakes Pass, overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and the Sierra Crest. Then descend 693 feet (211 m) into the Ten Lakes Basin, which contains a series of beautiful High Sierra lakes. Grant Lakes is at the end of a 1-mile (1.6-km) side trail from the pass.
Last updated: April 9, 2021