Young Lakes – Yosemite National Park

 

Welcome to Young Lakes in Yosemite National Park.

If you’re looking for scenic granite mountains reflecting on crystal clear mountain lakes, this is a backpacking trip for you.

This 14.5-mile voyage is lasso loop trail from Tuolumne Meadows. The gradual climb up to the lakes via the Glen Aulin trail takes you through pine forests and across bare granite slabs as you wind your way up and over a ridge near Ragged Peak. From the top of the ridge it’s a one mile, slightly downhill, walk to the lowest of the three tarns at Young Lakes.

There are plenty of open spaces with soft gravel ground cover for pitching your tent at Young Lakes. If the forecast is clear for your trip, consider leaving the tent behind and sleeping outside under the stars. The temperatures drop during the night time, but are certainly warm enough with a good sleeping bag to wrap up inside.

Not only is the setting superb at young Lakes, the location is a splendid launchpad for day trips throughout the alpine region of northern-eastern Yosemite. Mount Conness beckons those looking to bag a peak. Roosevelt Lake is a cross-country trip to another lake which lies in the shadow of Mount Conness. During our trip we took a leisurely 3-mile day excursion towards the east to the other two lakes in the Young Lakes series. The upper most lake of Young Lakes lies above tree line and is an exceptional way to spend a day basking in the alpine sun.

The return hike back to Tuolumne Meadows the next day, down the Dog Lake trail, is a great final day of hiking. The open meadows and vistas at multiple points throughout the trek are spectacular. The first two miles of the trip from Young Lakes takes you up and over another ridge near Ragged Peak. The vistas start here and continue throughout the mostly downhill 7 miles back to Tuolumne Meadows.

Weather is usually sunny and warm in the Sierra Nevada mountains during June through September. If your trip starts in early summer make sure to check the trail conditions before leaving. Snow clings to the peaks and shaded areas throughout the year in many places of this area. As the snow runoff begins to fill the lakes and streams, the mosquitos are not far behind. June and July can be heavy with mosquitos in the high country of Yosemite. A stiff breeze and bug repellent are usually enough though to limit their effect. Travelling later in the summer, after much of the standing water has evaporated, will drive the mosquito population down significantly. Bugs were not an issue during our trip to Young Lakes in September.

For most hikers it’s likely the altitude at Tuolumne Meadows will be higher than what your body is normally accustomed to. From a starting elevation of 8,600 feet at Tuolumne Meadows, you’ll climb up to 9,900 feet to the lowest of the three lakes. The highest of the three lakes lying to the east is just over 10,300 feet. Climbing up to the peak of Mount Conness will take up near 13,000 feet in elevation. If you’re traveling from lower elevations you may want to consider spending a night at one of the campgrounds in Tuolumne Meadows before your trip. A day or two of acclimatization will help ease any potential effects of the higher altitude throughout your trip.

Permits are required for all overnight trips in Yosemite’s backcountry. You can reserve a wilderness permit up to 24 weeks in advance of your trip. Or you can get a first-come, first-served permit inside the park the day before your trip begins. Yosemite National Park allows 60% of the available permits for an area to be reserved in advance. The rest are kept for the first-come, first-served crowd. For more information on obtaining a back country permit go to the Wilderness Permits page. Click here.

Bear canisters are also required in the backcountry of Yosemite. All food and toiletries are packed in the bear canister when not in use. You can rent a canister when you pick up your permit inside the park. They can be bulky inside your pack but are well worth it for protecting your food.

You’ll be refreshed after a trip to Young Lakes. It is also a great trip for those who are new to backpacking. The trails are well defined and the distance relatively short. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Enjoy!

 

Yosemite National Park

Day One – Tuolumne Meadows to Young Lakes:


Download this map for your GPS device:

Right-click the link below and choose “Save Link As…” or “Download Linked File” to save the GPS file to your computer. Upload the GPX file which you have just downloaded to your GPS device per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Right-click and choose “Save Link As…” or “Download Linked File”

 

Mileage 6.7 miles Elevation Climbed 1,579 feet
Experience Level All Exertion Moderate
Young Lakes Day One Elevation Profile
Young Lakes Day One Map

Start: Lembert Dome Parking Lot – Tuolumne Meadows

Mile Marker Description
0.0 Glen Aulin Trail: trail goes west before turning to climb towards the north
1.9 Young Lakes Trail: Take the right hand fork and follow sign to Young Lakes
5.6 Pass Dog Lake Trail on your right. Continue straight (north) to Young Lakes

End at Young Lakes: 6.73 miles


Day Two – Young Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows:


Download this map for your GPS device:

Right-click the link below and choose “Save Link As…” or “Download Linked File” to save the GPS file to your computer. Upload the GPX file which you have just downloaded to your GPS device per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Right-click and choose “Save Link As…” or “Download Linked File”

 

Mileage 6.6 miles Elevation Climbed 597 feet
Experience Level All Exertion Moderate
Young Lakes Day Two Elevation Profile
Young Lakes Day Two Map

Start: Young Lakes

Mile Marker Description
0.0 Young Lakes Trail: head south towards Tuolumne Meadows
1.5 Dog Lake Trail: Turn left on Dog Lake Trail
2.18 Summit ridge near Ragged Peak
4.9 Dog Lake Trail turnoff. There are a variety of criss-crossing trails from this point onwards. Continue to follow signs towards “Lembert Dome Parking Lot” or “Stables”.

End at Tuolumne Meadows: 6.63 miles

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