Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
500.00 ft (152.40 m)
Trail type
2.40 mi (3.86 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 to May Lake in Yosemite National Park is very short, but be prepared for some climbing. The elevation gain is about 500 feet over the course of a little over a mile. Along the way are several viewpoints that capture the grandeur of Yosemite, including magnificent views over Tenaya Canyon with Half Dome among the granite peaks and alpine forests. The trail ends at the southeastern shore of a sparkling blue May Lake, which sits at the base of Mount Hoffman. Along the shore you'll find a backpackers campsite in addition to the May Lake High Sierra Camp.

Trees that have had their bark stripped off area a sure sign that bears are active in the area; bears do this to eat the sapwood and insects in fallen trees. Other animals you may see include Steller jays, western gray squirrels, mule deer, and the elusive bighorn sheep. The trail provides ample shade throughout the hike. Dense groves of incense cedar, Douglas fir, ponderosa, and many other types of trees grow in the area around May Lake. In late spring and summer, the trail is dotted with wildflowers such as the black-eyed Susan, bull thistle, lupine, and goldenrod.

Note that Tioga Road leading to trailhead usually opens from late spring to late fall. Be sure to check the road status before going on your trip.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Beautiful views. Solitude. Campsite at the end of the trail.


Chilly in winter. Strenuous hike.

Trailhead Elevation

8,800.00 ft (2,682.24 m)


Backcountry camping
Rock climbing
Big vistas
Geologically significant


Nearby Adventures


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