Top of switchbacks on Clouds Rest Trail.
Mileage sign at Happy Isles.
Merced River from footbridge.
Climbing Vernal Falls on the Mist Trail.
Vernal Falls.
Liberty Cap from the Mist Trail.
Nevada Falls from the Mist Trail.
Mount Clark
Snow Plant.
Climbing the Clouds Rest Trail.
Liberty Cap and Mount Broderick from Clouds Rest Trail.
First Merced River footbridge.
Steps near the summit of Clouds Rest.
Clark Range from Clouds Rest.
Clark Range and Little Yosemite Valley.
Half Dome from Clouds Rest.
Sunset from Clouds Rest.
Cathedral Range from Clouds Rest.
Little Yosemite Valley.
Clark Range from near the top of Clouds Rest.
Half Dome from near the top of Clouds Rest.
Steps at Clouds Rest.
Routes USA CaliforniaYosemite National Park
Clouds Rest from Happy Isles

Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Clouds Rest from Happy Isles

Length23.8 mi
Elev. Gain6136.9 ft
Est. Steps55000




Scenic views

Wild flowers


Quiet place


Wild life



No shade

Steep slope

No/weak signal


Created by Matt
Clouds Rest from Happy Isles is a 23.8 mile (55,000-step) route located near Yosemite National Park, California, USA. This route has an elevation gain of about 6136.9 ft and is rated as hard. Find the best walking trails near you in Pacer App.
Clouds Rest may not be the highest point in Yosemite. But it is the highest point in the Yosemite Valley area. The views from Clouds Rest are nothing short of stunning. Clouds Rest is the only place in the valley area where you can both see the entire valley along with a bird’s eye view of the TOP of Half Dome. Best of all, unlike Half Dome, no permit or lottery is required to climb Clouds Rest. There are two ways to climb Clouds Rest. You can start from either Tenaya Lake along the Tioga Pass Road or from the John Muir Trail in Little Yosemite Valley. Little Yosemite Valley can be accessed from Glacier Point or the Happy Isles Trailhead. This route covers the hike to Clouds Rest from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. From the trailhead by the Happy Isles Bridge, start hiking up the John Muir Trail toward Little Yosemite Valley. The first landmark along this trail is the Merced River Footbridge, about three quarters of a mile in. At this point is a drinking fountain, which is the last source of potable water on this hike (water can be filtered from streams beyond this point). There is also a restroom here. A short distance beyond this point is the junction with the Mist Trail. The Mist Trail is shorter and more spectacular alternative to the John Muir Trail from this point to the top of Nevada Falls. It is also much steeper, involves climbing lots of steps (some very wet), and (early in the season) possibly getting drenched by the waterfall mist that gives this trail its name. Most people prefer the Mist Trail for ascent and the John Muir Trail for descent. If you choose the Mist Trail, you will soon find yourself at the base of Vernal Falls climbing a rather long set of steps to the top. If the falls are flowing well, the mist from the waterfalls will be quite heavy. This mist, along with wind generated by the falls, can drench you like a rainstorm. Rain gear may be helpful. But on a summer day, the water can feel nice. You may, however, want to have a second pair of socks in case your feet get wet. Or waterproof shoes/boots. After climbing the steps and walking along a narrow path on the edge of a cliff, you will find yourself at the top of Vernal Falls (about three quarters of a mile from the beginning of the Mist Trail). There is a restroom here. Continuing beyond here, the trail follows the Merced River as it gently climbs up to the base of Nevada Falls. Along the way, the trail crosses another footbridge across the Merced River. The climb up Nevada Falls is longer than the climb up Vernal Falls, but less steep. Also, Nevada Falls seems to be less misty, at least along the trail itself. Once at the top, the Mist Trail ends and you rejoin the John Muir Trail. There is a restroom here. The next 1.2 miles of trail is much more level than what you have already climbed. Some of it is even downhill. Along this section of trail, you will find the last reliable water (from the Merced River). If you have a filter, this is a good place to stock up on water. At the Little Yosemite Valley Campground, you will also find the last restroom on this hike. Shortly after passing the campground, the trail starts to climb once again. The trail switches back and passes in and out of the forest as it climbs the ridgeline that connects Half Dome with Clouds Rest. At a little under 1.5 miles, you will pass the junction with the Half Dome Trail. At this point, you are about half a mile from the junction with the Clouds Rest Trail and 4.3 miles from the summit of Clouds Rest. You are also about halfway from the valley floor to the summit of Clouds Rest in terms of elevation gain. At the junction with the Clouds Rest Trail, there is sometimes a stream on the right side of the trail. This is a good place to fill up with water if you have a filter. At this point, a sign will show that you are 3.8 miles from the summit of Clouds Rest. Take the trail to the summit. The trail starts to climb more steeply that before as it climbs up through the woods to Clouds Rest. After a mile or so, things open up as you climb some switchbacks. These switchbacks climb up to a large rock, which you will pass quite close to at the top of the switchbacks. You will then make a hard left at an open area, where you get a fantastic view of Half Dome, Little Yosemite Valley, Liberty Cap, and other area landmarks. You are at an elevation of about 9000ft at this point - just a hair less than 1000ft below the summit. Beyond this point, the trees thin as you continue to climb toward the summit. After a little over half a mile, you come to the last trail junction, which indicates the summit is only .6 miles away. From here, you climb a few switchbacks. And then the trail becomes increasingly rocky as you approach the summit. After climbing some steps, you will find yourself ob the summit! Spend some time up here to enjoy the views before heading down. You can head down the way you came. Or, from the top of Nevada Falls, take the John Muir Trail.

Happy Isles

Tourist Attraction
Happy Isles is a group of small isles in the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. They are located at the easternmost end of the Yosemite Valley floor. This scenic spot is the starting point for the Mist Trail, and is also the northern trailhead for the John Muir Trail. Happy Isles is also the trailhead for popular hiking destinations along the Mist Trail (including Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls) and Half Dome.

Emerald Pool

Tourist Attraction
Emerald Pool is the name of several locations.

Mist Trail

Tourist Attraction
The Mist Trail is one of the most popular short hikes in Yosemite National Park, California, USA. The steep hike follows the Merced River, starting at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley, past Vernal Fall and Emerald Pool, to Nevada Fall.

Nevada Fall

Tourist Attraction
Nevada Fall is a 594-foot (181 m) high waterfall on the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California. It is located below the granite dome, Liberty Cap, at the west end of Little Yosemite Valley. The waterfall is widely recognized by its "bent" shape, in which the water free-falls for roughly the first third of its length to a steep slick-rock slope.

Little Yosemite Valley

Tourist Attraction
Little Yosemite Valley is a smaller glacial valley upstream in the Merced River drainage from the Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. The Merced River meanders through the 3.5 mi (5.6 km) long flat valley, draining out over Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall before emptying into the main Yosemite Valley.

Vernal Fall

Tourist Attraction
Vernal Fall is a 317-foot (96.6 m) waterfall on the Merced River just downstream of Nevada Fall in Yosemite National Park, California. Like its upstream neighbor, Vernal Fall is clearly visible at a distance, from Glacier Point, as well as close up, along the Mist Trail. The waterfall flows all year long, although by the end of summer it is substantially reduced in volume and can split into multiple strands, rather than a single curtain of water.

Clouds Rest

Clouds Rest is a mountain in Yosemite National Park east northeast of Yosemite Village, California. Although there are many peaks in the park having far greater elevation, Clouds Rest's proximity to the valley gives it a very high degree of visual prominence.

1996 Yosemite Valley landslide

"Yosemite rock fall" and "Yosemite rock slide" redirect here.The 1996 Yosemite Valley landslide occurred on July 10, 1996, near the Happy Isles trailhead in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, California. 162,000 tons of rocks and other debris fell to the ground at over 160 miles per hour.

Grizzly Peak (Mariposa County, California)

Grizzly Peak in Yosemite Valley is a promontory on the southwest wall below the popular Half Dome. It can be seen on the hike to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, from northeastern Glacier Point, and various other locations in the Yosemite Valley. The top is not accessible by any trail, although rock climbers frequent the peak.

Sierra Point (Yosemite)

Sierra Point is a point located in Yosemite National Park at the eastern end of the valley, below Grizzly Peak, on what is essentially the southern shoulder of Half Dome. The trail used to be quite popular, but was closed due to a rock slide in the 1970s. This was John Muir's favorite trail. While a portion of the trail is still missing, it is still possible to reach the point.
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Route Details


23.8 mi

Elev. Gain

6136.9 ft

Est. Steps

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