Elizabeth Lake Trail
Nothing can beat the postcard-perfect scene of a shimmering alpine lake bounded by craggy peaks, and the Elizabeth Lake Hike delivers just that! Adventure through enchanting pine forests up to the crystal-clear lake that exhibits a breathtaking scene.
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Route Description for Elizabeth Lake Trail
Immerse yourself in California’s high country along the Elizabeth Lake Trail. This stunning adventure is one of the park’s best kept secrets, but we thought we should share it with you! Unassumingly picturesque, this seasonal adventure travels at high elevations up to the alpine lake, so we highly recommend acclimatizing to the area’s altitude prior to your trek. Additionally, the terrain up to the lake is rocky and uneven, so a sturdy pair of footwear makes a world of difference. Traveling deep into the wilderness provides seclusion and serenity, but also the possibility of an encounter with wildlife. Make sure to keep an eye out, bring bear spray, and consider wearing a bear bell. Note: the Yosemite National Park charges an entrance fee, refer to the NPS website for more information.
There is nothing we love more than refreshing, crystal-clear waters, and those can definitely be found at Elizabeth Lake! Nestled between Unicorn and Johnson peak, this oddly shaped lake makes for a panoramic alpine adventure. Get a workout in as you climb up through enchanting pine forests adorned with granite outcrops. The beauty of this trail exceeds the scenery, offering a tranquil and isolated experience that will allow you to reflect and reconnect with nature. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit, as a dip in the chilly alpine waters will rejuvenate you before your journey back to the trailhead!
Embark on your adventure along the Elizabeth Lake Trail from the trailhead in the Tuolumne Meadow Campground. From here, head south along the Elizabeth Lake Trail. Soon after your departure you will reach an intersection. Stay south here and continue hiking the Elizabeth Lake Trail, where the path will begin to gradually climb through the mixed pine woodlands. Remember to mind your footing on the rocky, uneven terrain. Soon, the path will approach the gurgling waters of Unicorn Creek, where you can enjoy the meditative sounds of the running waters as you climb up to the lake.
When the route opens to the lake, you will be overwhelmed with the gorgeous scenery of the shimmering waters encircled with verdant pines and bounded by the craggy granite peaks, with Unicorn Peak to the west and Johnson Peak to the east. From the lake’s shore you can walk around the perimeter in either direction, but we headed clockwise around the jigsaw-shaped lake. Revel in the blue hue of the crystal-clear alpine lake and, if you are feeling daring, hop into the chilly waters—that’ll certainly wake you up! When you are ready, retrace your footing along the path all the way back to the trailhead.
Elizabeth Lake is a jigsaw-shaped alpine lake in the Sierra Nevada, just above Tuolumne Meadows. Sitting between the granite summits of Unicorn Peak and Johnson Peak at an elevation of 2,896 m, the scene is postcard perfect. Named for a geologist’s niece, Elizabeth Crow Simmons, this lake is ideal for those seeking more isolation and tranquility from a Yosemite National Park Hike.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you camp at Elizabeth Lake in Yosemite?
Yes, you can camp at Elizabeth Lake. You will need a wilderness permit to backcountry camp or you can camp at the Tuolumne Meadows Campground at the trailhead.
Can you swim at Elizabeth Lake?
Yes, you can swim in Elizabeth Lake, but be forewarned, the water will likely be frigid.
Insider Hints for Elizabeth Lake Trail
- Bring bug spray—you’ll thank us later
- A sturdy pair of footwear will make a world of difference on the uneven terrain
- Pack lunch and have a picnic along the shores of the shimmering lake
- Note the trail is only accessible when the Tioga Pass Road is open
Getting to the Elizabeth Lake Trail Trailhead
Elizabeth Lake Hike is accessed via the trailhead in Tuolumne Meadows Campground off Tioga Pass Road.
Elizabeth Lake Trail Elevation Graph
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Elizabeth Lake Trail Reviews
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