I have wanted to hike Cloud’s Rest since I first learned about the hike a few years ago, and it was at the top of my list when we were planning this trip earlier in the summer. Cloud’s Rest is a 14.2 mile hike with about 1800 feet of elevation gain. From the top, it offers one of the sickest views of Half Dome in the park, along with views of Tenaya Lake, Mount Hoffman, North Dome, and so many other peaks that we could only begin to name when we pulled out our map. When we did the hike, it wasn’t terribly crowded, but there were other hikers on the trail. We did start pretty late in the day, around 10 AM, because we had hiked Pothole Dome first, so that may have made it seem like there were less hikers than if we had started the hike earlier in the day.
This first couple miles of this hike are a flat nature walk through the Tenaya Lake Valley. It’s shaded and smells like trees and is generally very enjoyable. It sort of makes you think like hey, this hike might not be too bad (you are wrong of course). You also walk next to a river for parts of it, which is nice.
Funny story time: I was using fairly new hiking shoes on this trip, and after we hiked Pothole Dome this morning, I spent about 15 minutes cutting up moleskin and bandaging my blistered feet. About 200 yards into the hike, there is a stream you have to ford and I just thought “oh no, now I have to stall our hike even longer”. I thought I was going to have to take the bandages off my feet, walk across the river, and then rebandage them. But, then my dad pulled through and won MVP of the trip when he carried me across this stream. Other hikers on the trail thought it was hilarious.
After that pleasant nature walk where you’re tricked into thinking this hike will be a breeze (I should’ve known better, we were in Yosemite after all), you gain 1000 feet of elevation in a mile on a bunch of switchbacks. The only redeeming thing about this part of the hike was that parts of it were in the shade. It’s not quite Half Dome status, but its certainly not fun to gain this much elevation this quickly at such a high elevation.
The next part of the hike was a pretty steep downhill for quite awhile (that you will feel on the way home) and then another nature stroll through some woods. There’s a small lake that you pass and a stream and lots and lots and lots of wildflowers. There were so so many lupins when we went, it looked like a fairy forest of lupins because at points they just blanketed the ground. There is a lot of water in this part of the hike, so there are also a lot of mosquitos. If you want to stop and take pictures, be prepared to be bitten. I ended up with 37 mosquito bites at the end of this trip (but don’t let that stop you from doing this hike, mosquitos really like my blood for some reason and my dad did not end up with that many bites).
After that, you start your ascent up Cloud’s Rest itself. It’s definitely not as steep as the first climb of the hike, but it’s not a comfortable uphill either. The scenery at this part of the hike isn’t really that great, so we just powered through this part with few stops until we reached the peak.
The peak of Cloud’s Rest is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, but it was also terrifying for someone like me who has quite the fear of heights. On one of the sides of the peak is the furthest drop in the park. If you fell from here, you would fall around 5,000 feet. The way the peak looks is that it starts as a wide base, and then it gets really narrow as you get closer to the peak, and then once you make it to the top (where all the dope views are) it widens out again. The one thing I will say is to be very careful on that narrow part. If you trip, you’ll probably be fine, but a part of me felt like a strong gust of wind would just blow me off the face of the Earth.
THE VIEWS FROM THE TOP ARE SOME OF THE COOLEST THINGS I’VE EVER SEEN. You get one of the best views of Half Dome in the park, and can see so many other peaks. Using a map, my dad and I found Mt. Hoffman, North Dome, Tenaya Lake, and various other peaks. Even with the fires that were happening while we were there, the views were still amazing. I can’t even imagine what it looks like from the top of this peak on a clear day.
I highly recommend this hike and I would definitely do it again. Although it’s long, it’s not ridiculously difficult, and the views from the top are worth it. 10/10 would recommend.
Can’t beat Yosemite! Thanks for reading!