Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,930.00 ft (588.26 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.10 mi (8.21 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The hike up Glacier Canyon to Dana Lake may be one of the most surreal and rewarding hikes in the area. Though with that being said, this hike is very strenuous and will definitely make you work for those rewards.

The summit of Mount Dana marks the boundary between Yosemite Naitonal Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness, and is the second highest peak in Yosemite. The entirety of the Glacier Canyon hike, however, lies outside of the park, beginning at Tioga Lake just one mile outside of Yosemite's eastern entrance gate. The trail up Glacier Canyon begins at the southeast side of Tioga Lake. While the parking lot here is consistently crowded, few people actually make it down to the lake, while far fewer head into the canyon's interior on the other side.

The trail climbs an ankle-twisting 700' under the shade of a pine forest before hitting a plateau where several trails branch off. This area on its own is worth spending some time exploring. Wildflowers and lots of mud may be present earlier in the season. 

Beyond the meadow, the path to the lakes become less clear. However, anyway that you head in an upstream direction will eventually get you to the lakes. Mud and waterflow may lead you to head to the fringes and trace the rocks up canyon.

Just below the lowest lake, the meadow ends at a wall of scree, and the hike will be over this for the remainder of the distance. All shade disappears at this point as well. Several lakes are set into the level areas of the stone, each with colorful glacier-fed waters. 

While the series of lakes are collectively known as Dana Lakes, the largest sits at the top of the canyon, set in a moraine immediately beneath the Dana Glacier. Very few people take on the slippery steep scramble to reach this point, and those who do will likely have the scenic lake at the base of Mount. Dana all to themselves. Those tempted to jump into the emerald waters will get an incredibly cold dip, though it is one of the more surreal swimming experiences found in this part of the Sierra.

Enjoy the sense of calm that settles over everything at 11,000 feet, and when you're ready, turn around and retrace your route back to Tioga Lake.

Pit toilets, shaded benches and trash are located at the trailhead at Tioga Lake Lookout. Tioga Pass road remains closed beginning near Lee Vining throughout winter conditions.

While dogs are allowed on the hike, the sharp rocky surface beyond the meadow area may be painful for them.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

No

Open from

June 01 to November 30

Pros

Very few people around. Great for a scenic cold swim.

Cons

No trail. Final section requires scrambling over rocks.

Trailhead Elevation

9,710.00 ft (2,959.61 m)

Highest point

11,100.00 ft (3,383.28 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Glacier
Waterfalls
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Yosemite + Central Sierra, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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