Clouds Rest

Elevation Gain: 917m
Distance: 20.68km
Total Time: 5 hours 38 minutes
Date: October 30th, 2022

Clouds Rest is a 3028m located on the Eastern end of Yosemite Valley. It’s a popular summit as the hike up is easy and boasts east to west views of the entire valley below. Andrea and I were stopping in Yosemite Valley on the way back up to the Western coast and were on the look out for an easy hike to fill the day. We originally wanted to do the Half Dome cable trail, but it’s apparently taken down before the winter and so we had to look elsewhere. Clouds Rest showed up multiple times in our search and so we figured why not.

After doing a bit more digging we found that we’d need to drive through Tioga Pass road and the status of that road is at the mercy of the winter. Usually by early to mid-November it’s closed. Thankfully for us, there had been no snow prior and none in the forecast so it was slated to be open for our arrival. The plan was to drive from Lee Vining early in the morning, do the Clouds Rest hike and then find somewhere to sleep in Stockton or closer.

On the morning of our hike we made the drive up to Tioga Pass road, driving along the snow dusted summits of the Eastern Sierras. As we drove deeper in, we were met the impressive granite landscape that forms the Tuolumne Meadows. We eventually reached the pull out at Sunshine Lake and headed down the trail.

Here’s El Capitan, the rock that Alex Handhold free soloed in that movie on Netflix

Given it’s such a popular hike, the trail was exceptionally well maintained and well signed. We hiked past the Sunshine Lake turn off and then made our way up the path towards the base of Sunshine Mountain. From here we had to lose ~100m of elevation and then regain 2-3km later. After ~8km of walking we finally started to reach an interesting point in the hike. The summit ridge was now and view and we continued up through the forest until it tapered out at 2950m or so.

Andrea enjoying the signage at the trail head
Clouds Rest visible all the way to the right. It’s a ways off
Granite stair cases are a real luxury
Looking North towards some of the granite summits nearby. Might be Hoffman and Tuolomne
Sunshine Mountain has a nice western face
Clouds Rest summit ridge now visible

    From here it was a very easy ridge walk to the summit where were met with a jaw dropping view of Half Dome and The Valley. The granite formations in The Valley were seriously impressive. It’s too bad one must do 10km of boring forest plodding just to reach this spot. There were a number of groups at the top who had made the journey, but it didn’t detract from the summit whatsoever.

    Almost to the summit
    Andrea at the forefront of a sea of granite
    Half Dome in sight!
    Summit Panorama. The granite faces are mind-blowingly big
    Looking south towards Quartzite Peak and Mount Clark. Missed opportunity for some much cooler names…
    A zoomed in view of the knife-edge summit on Mount Clark
    Looking towards Unicorn Peak and Echo Peak I believe

    Andrea and I had to get driving to our next destination so we only paused for snacks at the top before heading down. There’s practically nothing of note on the return as we just followed the obvious path all the way back. Before heading out of the park we decided to stop in The Valley itself and that ended up being a very worthwhile journey.

    Heading back down
    El Capitan as viewed from The Valley. Okay this is the summit that Alex free soloed.
    Half Dome on fire thanks to the sunset
    Some climbers on El Capitan in the dark

    I feel the Clouds Rest hike definitely leaves something to be desired. The views at the end are phenomenal, but damn the forest walk is boring. Like service road walking level of boring. Good thing Andrea and I were able to keep ourselves entertained.

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