Yosemite NP – Tioga Pass May Lake Hike


What? : A short trail leads through a conifer forest and across granite slabs to reach May Lake. Enjoy views of Half Dome and surrounding mountains on the way. This is 2.4-mile-long with 500 feet of elevation gain relatively easy hike with a fantastic view of the lake and Mt. Hoffman.


Where? : When coming from the west the roadside entrance is located 31.7 miles from the Gas station.

When coming from the east, after Olmsted Point, drive for additional 2.3 miles and watch for signs for May Lake on the right (32 miles from Lee Vining highway 395).

Turn onto the 2 miles narrow one lane road that takes you to the small parking lot at the trailhead.

Google Map Link



When? : If you are planning to drive Tioga pass road (highway 120), enter or exit the park east entrance or visit Tuolumne Meadows make sure to visit the park main page to understand if this road is open or close. The road is usually open from mid-May to end of October.

Follow the link below for history records of road opening and closing dates:




Note: last time I was here was in 2016



Due note 1: You do not need a permit for North Dome if you are doing it as a day hike.


Due note 2: There aren’t many parking places in the trail head, and late in the day it can be challenging to find a place to park. This “parking” is the main Tioga Pass Roadside, drive slowly and look for empty spot as you are approaching the TH, if you plan to do U turn be extra careful. Park outside the road line and park legally i.e., do not park where there are “no parking” sings.


Due note 3: The nearest Gas stations locations:

West: 25 miles at the junction with Big Oak Flat Rd.

East: 34.3 miles at highway 395 and the town of Lee Vining


Due note 4: When I visit here, Oct. 2022 the grill & convenience store near the east end of Tuolumne Meadows was close and under major renovation. Not clear when this will be open.


Due note 5: There is a large campground in Tuolumne Meadows but from my experience it is fully booked early in the year. If you are planning to stay here, book your campground in advance.


Due note 6: It can be a bit windy and breezy up at the exposed rocky dome so consider bringing warm cloth with you.


Due note 7: Stay off domes during thunderstorms!

It is not safe to be in high exposed location when there are lightnings…


Due note 8: As in all other trail hikes in Yosemite dogs aren't allowed on this trail.


Due note 9: There are restrooms at the trailhead.


Due note 10: Park Rangers are closing this road for the winter earlier then Tioga Pass Road, If the dirt road is closed you will require an additional 2 mile hike up the road, and additional 2 mails on your way back.


Due note 11: You won't be alone here, since it's a short hike but there is plenty of space at the lake shore so you will not feel it is crowded.


Due note 12: you can find pit toilets at the trailhead or near the lake that is closes when the camp close.


Due note 13: No oversized vehicles and RVs allowed on the side road leading up to trail head parking.


Due note 14: Mount Hoffman peek is hard and challenging hike, it includes route-finding, steep grades, scramble to the summit. Do this only if you know what you are doing.



My thoughts: This is an amazing view to see May Lake on the foot of the impressive Mt. Hoffman summit. I did this hike only once but I’m sure I will do this hike again. The hike itself is relatively short and not difficult even for kids.



The Hike:


Few general hiking guidelines:

Stay on established trails, pack out what you pack in, Overnight backpackers need a wilderness permit, carry (and drink) plenty of water. Be sure to treat river, stream, lake, or spring water.


You will start this well maintained and clearly marked trail at the end of the road parking.

You will start a gradual incline trail in a nice high pine forest.

The trail climbs up and at mark point 0.75 mile, you will hike through a series of switchbacks. At the end of this section look for opening in the trees and look back, you can see, far away, Clouds Rest ridge and Half Dome below it.


From this point it is a short walk to the lake itself.

Enjoy the view of the lake, nesting below the impressive, exposed granite cliffs of Mt. Hoffman.

This is the perfect place to rest, eat something and just relax.


The ridge just behind the camp is worth a visit as it offers a grand view of the southern end of Yosemite.

You can also explore the trail that passing the lake and heading north.

If you will walk for another mile, cross few meadows, and climb across the low ridge line you will be reworded by a grand vista view to the northeast.

The complete hike from the trailhead to this viewpoint is 3.5 miles with about 550 feet of elevation gain. 


Once you are done here, head back the way you came, now it is all the way downhill to the parking lot.






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