One of our most favorite short hikes. Starts at 9,945 foot elevation and quickly ascends one mile on unrelenting uphill switchbacks. Reach the saddle at the top of the ridge and it’s a short downhill stretch to Middle Gaylor Lake, the first of several lovely, high elevation lakes. Above timberline, the few indomitable trees are gnarled and dwarfed in this harsh and habitually windy environment. And yet, you will often find delicate wildflowers here and there, and along water’s edge. The extreme rugged environment of the alpine region is so dramatic, and with the loftiest peaks of the Tuolumne Meadows area to the south appearing to rise right up out of the lake, it seems you are standing on the edge of the world!
Directly east lies massive Mount Dana, at 13,057 feet, the second highest peak in Yosemite. So majestic! A short hike from this first lake to the north takes you outside the park to the remains of an old mine, evidence of Yosemite’s past, including stout remnants of a very weathered stone cabin. Hiking over 10,000 feet can be exhilarating, and it may take your breath away, but totally worth it for the spectacular views!
Moderate, short but steep, 2 mile round trip hike, more if you visit the other lakes or the mine.
Trailhead is just inside the Tioga Pass entrance on the left/west.