Off Tioga Road

  • Off Tioga Road: Overlooking the national park from Clouds Rest - © Flickr user Blake Carroll
  • Off Tioga Road: Upper Sunrise Lake - © Flickr user ccharmon
  • Off Tioga Road: Overlooking the national park from Clouds Rest - © Flickr user Blake Carroll
  • Off Tioga Road: Tuolumne Meadows - © Flickr user Docentjoyce
  • Off Tioga Road: Crystal Clear Tenaya Lake  - © Flickr user Don Graham
  • Off Tioga Road: Lower Sunrise Lake - © Flickr user ccharmon
  • Off Tioga Road: Half Dome from North Dome - © Flickr user Nick Mealey
  • Off Tioga Road: Tuolumne Meadows - © Flickr user Don Graham
  • Off Tioga Road: North Dome & Royal Arches - © Flickr user James St. John
  • Off Tioga Road: © Flickr user Robbie Shade 1

Key information: Off Tioga Road

  • An extravagant selection of extraordinary walks, many of which can be linked, to the north of the main Yosemite Valley.

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Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 9,000 ft or so
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Off Tioga Road: Upper Sunrise Lake - © Flickr user ccharmon

WALK SUMMARY

Some of Yosemite’s best walks can be found off the Tioga Road, which winds into the highlands north of the main Yosemite Valley toward the Tuolumne Meadows. In approximate west-to-east order:

North Rim from Tamerack Flat: head out from Tamarack Flat to explore the north rim of Yosemite Valley. Take in some or all of El Capitan, the top of Yosemite Falls and North Dome before dropping into Yosemite Valley. Up to 26 miles. A long day, but not as demanding as it might sound. Walkopedia is particularly keen to do this walk.

Walk to Yosemite Creek and Falls and El Capitan from above, then drop 2,700ft to the Yosemite Valley floor on the trail by the falls. 9ish miles on good trails if heading straight down into Yosemite Valley (more if taking in El Capitan), mostly downhill so hard to the knees.

North Dome: from Porcupine Creek, it is 5+ miles to this stupendous dome above the Yosemite Valley, for enormous views across the Yosemite Valley, with the extraordinary sheared-off face of Half Dome directly across. Return, or drop into Yosemite Valley via Yosemite Falls and the trail beside it. 

Pate Valley. A long walk out into the high backcountry, from White Wolf to Tuolumne Meadows via Pate Valley, Benson Lake and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. 29 miles or so, and a lot of up and down, so not a day walk for most people.

South Rim of the Tuolumne Grand Canyon. Lukens Lake to Mather Ranger Station via Harden Lake, Pate Valley and the lovely Ten Lakes basin. Nearly 20 miles and a lot if up and down, so a demanding day walk.

A shorter way in to the gorgeous Ten Lakes area  takes you via Half Moon Meadow, then Grant Lakes. Superb views into the Tuolumne Grand Canyon. 12.5 miles return. Make a grand day of it by heading on to beautiful May Lake, below Mt Hoffmann, and then out to the nearby(ish) roadhead (25 miles total for a long day).

Sunrise Lakes and Clouds Rest: climb long switchbacks to the beautiful Sunrise Lakes (whence you can circuit onward), or turn off earlier southward, to walk the high ridgeland to Clouds Rest (at 9,926ft) and on to famous Half Dome, before dropping into Yosemite Valley on the John Muir Trail. A demanding walk, but one Walkopedia is very keen to do.

The Tuolunme Meadows Area a long way east is such a good area, it gets its own page, which also includes walks even further east. Includes the Voselgang High Sierra, Mount Dana, the Cathedral Range, Glen Aulin / Cold Canyon and much more.

[See video clip(s) here.]

This can be tough walking in high, remote mountains with uncertain weather. Beware thunderstorms, get off high ground, domes especially, if one approaches. Beware bears in backcountry. Come fully prepared.

Drive to various trailhead carparks, or come by hikers' bus, which is better for non-circuit walks. There are excellent shuttle services in the park, including up the Tioga Road, so you can make linear (non-circuit) walks. However, shuttles  make limited stops, so you will need to plan getting to/from trailheads of linear routes carefully. See https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/publictransportation.htm for the current situation.

A bigger group with 2 cars works. See our Yosemite page for more.

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See our Yosemite page for more general and practical information and photos.

We want to tell more - please send us your ideas, suggestions, experiences and photos.

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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Off Tioga Road: Overlooking the national park from Clouds Rest - © Flickr user Blake Carroll

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Off Tioga Road: Half Dome from North Dome - © Flickr user Nick Mealey

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Off Tioga Road: Crystal Clear Tenaya Lake  - © Flickr user Don Graham...
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