Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
744.00 ft (226.77 m)
Trail type
3.75 mi (6.04 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.

This hike takes adventurers to a hidden gem of Yosemite National Park. Overlooked by many, Dog Lake, surrounded by forest, offers solitude and peace to the traveler who makes it to its shores. Dog Lake isn’t as breathtaking as the sheer cliff of El Capitan and doesn’t offer the heart-stopping views like Glacier Point Does, but what it lacks in its effects on one’s physical state, it sure makes up when it comes to the heart.

Three mountains mirror in its quiet waters, and a small peninsula that runs into the lake from its western shore offers a bit of privacy, obscuring the view from the main access to the lake. It’s the perfect place to swim from, as one can see all three mountains at once and change comfortably on the further side of the peninsula from the swimming suit. It’s covered in soft needles and sand, the main access has packed dirt. (In spring, the short trail to the peninsula can often be flooded and filled with mosquitoes; don’t follow the path when it’s flooded as it would cause significant erosion; use the main access point instead.)

Start at the Lembert Dome Trailhead. Cross Tiga Pass Road and head out on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Follow it for three-quarters of a mile, past the Tuolumne Meadows Stable, then take a left to cross Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Road and enter Dog Lake Parking Lot. (If you’re arriving by shuttle, feel free to take the bus here instead of Lembert Dome Trailhead.)

Cross the Parking lot and head out on Lembert Dome Trail. You will cross Tioga Pass Road and enter the wilderness. After 0.4 mile of steady climb, Lembert Dome Trail turns left; keep going straight.

Follow the connector trail for 0.6 mile, then turn right at the next junction onto Dog Lake Trail. After 0.15 mile, the trail branches off into three trails; at the first fork, stay on the right, at the second, much less obvious fork (and easy to miss), keep going straight/on the left path to stay on Dog Lake Trail. Follow it for 0.2 mile and you’ll arrive at Dog Lake.

On your return, head out on Dog Lake Trail and follow it for 1 mile. Keep going straight, past the fork and the turn where you came from before. The trails will take you through a meadow and a mostly dry riverbed (most of the time, there’s no more than a trickle there, although at times, mostly in spring and early summer, some rock-hopping is required).

Please resist the urge to build any cairns on the slabs of granite you’ll see on your right; the trail is well-marked and unauthorized cairn-building breaks the Leave No Trace principles and can cause other hikers to get lost, especially when hiking at night.

At the next junction, keep left to stay on Dog Lake Trail. It will lead you across a granite slab — when you leave the trees, you should be able to see the exact point where the trail resumes as a break in the opposing wall of trees. Identify it and cross the granite slab. The view from the granite slab offers amazing views of Cockscomb, a mountain with a very particular, sharp peak.

Follow the trail for less than a quarter of a mile and you’ll arrive back at Lembert Dome Trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round


Open from

May 01 to November 05


Not too busy. Shaded. Off the beaten path. Beautiful views. Solitude.


The initial climb and the final descent can be a bit difficult for some.

Trailhead Elevation

8,600.00 ft (2,621.28 m)

Highest point

9,215.00 ft (2,808.73 m)


Near lake or river

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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