Tenaya Lake Trail

Difficulty
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Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
1-1.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
5.5 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
60 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

The Tenaya Lake Trail is an easy-going adventure that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Taking you alongside the shores of the crystal-clear lake while exhibiting breathtaking sights of Yosemite’s granite massifs, this trek is an excellent choice for your next alpine adventure.

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Route Description for Tenaya Lake Trail

The Tenaya Lake Trail is a stunning adventure in California’s high country. Due to its elevation, the alpine waters are crystal-clear and the views of the encompassing granite massifs are incredible. While the trail itself is level, those traveling from lowlands will likely feel the effects of the lake’s altitude. Be sure to pack plenty of water! When visiting in the summer months it is important to note that the area is busy with adventurers and bugs alike, so try heading out in the off-season for a more tranquil experience. Note: The Yosemite National Park charges an entrance fee, check out the NPS website for more information.

Shimmering waters, lush woodlands, sandy beaches, and epic mountain views—what more could you ask for on a hike?! The Tenaya Lake Hike is an enchanting nature walk in Yosemite that boasts breathtaking vistas of the blue-hued lake flanked by the area’s quintessential granite peaks. Though you can head out any time of day, we prefer an early morning trek as you are more likely to catch the lake when it is still enough to reflect the image of the granite massifs in its water. A truly breathtaking scene, morning adventures also offer a more secluded experience as the crowds have yet to arrive. No matter the time of day, the Tenaya Lake Trail is sure to impress!

Your leisurely walk along the shores of Tenaya Lake begins from the Clouds Rest Trailhead. Setting out from here, track the Clouds Rest Trail over Tenaya Creek before reaching an intersection with the Tenaya Lake Trail. Here you will veer left onto the Tenaya Lake Trail, then head to the northeast. This section of the route will guide you through mixed pine forests, so take some time to enjoy the shade of the towering trees and the sporadic views of the glittering lake through the tree breaks. When trekking in the warmer months you will be rewarded with lush vegetation and vibrant wildflowers.

As you wander along the forested route, be sure to keep an eye out for birds singing in the trees. As you near the route’s end the terrain will become increasingly exposed, revealing astounding views of the encompassing landscape. Soon you will be guided to the sandy beaches on the northeastern shores of the lake, where you can rejuvenate your feet in the chilly alpine waters. Revel in the sights of the granite peaks reflected in the water, such as Mount Watkins, and Clouds Rest. After you are through admiring the stunning scenery, begin retracing your steps along the path all the way back to the trailhead.

Trail Highlights

Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake is a glittering body of water that sits at 2,484 m of elevation in the Yosemite National Park. Located between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, the picturesque lake is accessed by Tiago Pass Road. Attracting hikers, kayakers, swimmers, fishermen, and sightseers alike, this area is a popular destination to cool off in the summer months. Created by Tenaya Glacier years ago, now the basin is fed by alpine snowmelt, making the waters crystal clear and refreshing. This stunning scene is well worth the detour the next time you find yourself in Yosemite.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Tenaya Lake Trail?

The Tenaya Lake Trail is a 5.5 km out-and-back hike.

Can you swim in Tenaya Lake?

Yes, Tenaya Lake is a popular kayaking and swimming destination in Yosemite National Park.

How deep is Tenaya Lake?

Tenaya Lake is approximately 35 m deep.

Does Tenaya Lake have fish?

Yes, Tenaya Lake has Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Brook Trout among other species.

Insider Hints for Tenaya Lake Trail

  • Bring a bathing suit and cool off in the alpine waters after your walk
  • Charge your camera, this glittering lake is postcard-perfect
  • Pack lunch and have a picnic overlooking the shimmering waters!
  • Some sections of the path are unshaded, so protect yourself with sunscreen and a sunhat
  • In the warmer months bring bug spray

Getting to the Tenaya Lake Trail Trailhead

Access the Tenaya Lake Trail from the Clouds Rest Trailhead off Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite National Park.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    May-October

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Tenaya Lake Trail Elevation Graph

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