Mileage: From May Lake Trailhead = 2.2 miles roundtrip. 514 feet of elevation gain/loss.
May lake is an easy, beginner hike on the north eastern section of Yosemite NP. If entering from the Tioga Pass 120 gate, it is about a 30 min drive to the trailhead from entry into the park.
We decided to start from the official trailhead since we are a bit out of shape from the last few months of doing a whole lot of nothing. There is a 2 mile drive in on a “paved” road from Tioga Pass Road. It is a pretty drive, but can be a little rough. The trailhead parking area is well maintained and the pit toilets were sparkling clean!
The trail starts off next to a small pond and meanders through the forest on a mainly dirt path. Once you start climbing, you will hike over a mix of dirt, granite rocks and slabs. They have done a lot of work on this trail, as it is used to access the May Lake High Sierra Camp. We appreciated all the detailed work that went into making the trail so accessible. As you climb higher, the views get better and better. You can see Half Dome from a completely different angle. Once at May Lake, there is another pit toilet (not sure of the condition, we did not use it) and bear boxes if you wanted to camp for the night.
We explored a bit a of the area, including the lake and high sierra camp. We also found Marmots. I love them and it was a pleasant surprise to find them there! The high sierra camp has not been used in a few years due to the high snow year and now the pandemic year. I hope they can get it back up and running for next year!
It is June, so that means the mosquitos are out in force! I think they were especially bad, because when they first emerged, there were no humans to be found. Now they are starving! We used our Deet and it barely made a dent. Gannon turned around at one point and he reminded me of Pig Pen from Peanuts. The swarm of mosquitos around him was crazy. We were unable to hang out, so headed back down to the car.
If you want to add a little extra mileage and elevation gain to this hike, there is an access point for this trail off of Tioga Pass Road, close by the Sunrise Trailhead. You could also continue the hike past May Lake to summit Mount Hoffman at 10,850 ft.
Remember, pets are not allowed on these trails, so obviously, Jack was left back in the RV with plenty of food and water….and friends to let him out for potty breaks.
We had a great time hiking this trail and we highly recommend it for others that are visiting the park on the eastern side or are willing to drive a little further from down in the valley.