BackPacking Clouds Rest, Yosemite

Updated: Apr 10, 2020




Location: Yosemite National Park, CA

Trail: Clouds rest

Duration: 20 miles

Start: Happy Isles, Yosemite Village.

Finish: Happy Isles

Elevation: 9,331 at Clouds Rest, 4,000 at yosemite village.

5,331 feet up.

Date: Aug 9th - 11th / 2 nights, 3 days


This is a beautiful and wonderful hike. It is not easy and be prepared to do a lot of elevation. This was specifically hard for me because I was getting over a concussion I had 3 weeks prior and my body was still not healed so I had some trouble the first day but adjusted. I went to Yosemite on Friday Aug 9th with no real plans and I arrived at the south entrance. You need a permit for ANY wilderness camping so a trick I figured out if you're coming coming from the south is to go to the Wawona Ranger Station to pick up your permit. You will avoid bigger lines and its still 30 minutes or so from the valley so you can increase the likeliness of getting a permit.


Start: Day 1

The Valley is a cool place, although in the summer its FILLED with people and can be horrible. Get off at exit 16 on the bus system for happy isles and begin your summit over the bridge, when you get off the bus go straight. This was a


On the way up I gave a squirrel a thyme salted almond (which I shouldnt have done but he was so cute lol) He kept reaching out to me and hanging out

After a short walk you will have 2 options, take the John Muir trail or the Myst Trail, I recommend you take the Myst, it's a very incline hike but shorter than the John muir to get to the top plus you get to see 2 amazing waterfalls Vernal and Nevada Falls (you might need a permit for even a day pass just a heads up if you're only gonna do this section for a day hike). Vernal is first, in my opinion was my favorite of the 2. I got lucky and caught a rainbow



This is a view from the top of Vernal

This is about 1.0 miles to the top. Then you have another 1 mile to the top of Nevada falls. This part is really pretty, you start by seeing the river then walk a little further to see the actual Falls.


After this you have about 1 mile or so to The first campsite Little Yosemite. The sign says its 4.7 mile from Yosemite Village but thats if you take the John Muir trail. They want you to open camp 5 miles from the village and at least 1 mile from Little Yosemite which I totally messed up on and I camped by myself right outside of the campgrounds which I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to do. (I'm really sorry if a ranger or Yosemite employee reads this). I didn't even realize it was a campground til the next morning when I left for clouds rest and saw a ton of tents. Anyways, this was my site and the milky way at night.



I recommend sleeping here because its close to water and you will need it for the next day

Little Yosemite - 3 or 5 miles in


Day 2:

This was a hard hike to Clouds rest, LOTS of incline but super pretty hike. Head up the path from little yosemite and head towards Half Dome, The road till be a turn off at the top of this and you can either head left to half dome or right to get to clouds rest. If you can get a permit for half dome you should do it.

Hike to Little Yosemite to Clouds Rest - 6 miles


This is the top of the first section, 1.5 + miles, really pretty view of half dome.

Right after this, head right. Also take note, there is NO water source up there so make sure to pack up your water before. Go .5 mile to the right and then head left towards Clouds rest. I was so exhausted I didn't take any photos from this point on til the top of clouds rest. It's also really pretty and green so I opted to enjoy it and put my camera down. This is a hard hike, very inclined and hard. Once you get to the top it is AMAZING. The top of clouds rest is this giant rock formation filled with blues and reds, its quite the site. Then you walk up a kind of confusing path and see a crazy 360 view of all of Yosemite.



As you can tell this is an incredible and magical view. I stayed up for an hour or 2 and figured out if I wanted to camp up there or head back down. I realized my water was low and if I wanted to cook and drink that night, the next day would have been terrible. I still have am recovering from a concussion so I decided water and staying hydrated was important. I headed back down 6 miles back to Little Yosemite. I camped in this cozy little spot by the water, again you're supposed to camp at the site and don't do this.




Little Yosemite To Clouds rest: 6 miles

Clouds Rest back to Little Yosemite: 6 miles

Total: 12 Miles.




Day 3


I headed back down the way I came which I DO NOT recommend. Go down the John Muir trail not the Myst, You will avoid an annoying amount of people and it wont be a straight down decline. Its about 2 miles longer but worth avoiding the crowd since you'll have a backpack. This was an awesome hike and I highly suggest you do it! This was my first backpack trip I went by myself so it was nice to go at my own pace. Thanks for reading and checking out my trip photos and story.



-Nick






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