Backpacking California: Yosemite National Park – Young Lakes

Backpacking California: Yosemite National Park – Young Lakes

Do you believe there are more than 800 miles of trails and 167 lakes in Yosemite National Park? It’s a freakin big park. We definitely squeezed in lots of day hiking while working here this month, which is always good, but backcountry exclusion is our happy place.

Total Trip Mileage: 15.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 2500 feet

Time Spent in the Wild: 2 days / 1 night

Yosemite National Park works on a quota and permit system, and since we hadn’t reserved online permits months in advance, we would be limited to first-come, first-serve. You stand in line a day before going out to try to score whatever is available, so I poured over maps to make 3 plans. Our saving grace was the fact that it’s sort of a shoulder season for Yosemite, so we ended up with our first choice.

We did the Young Lakes loop, heading clockwise on the Glen Aulin trail, took the out-and-back trail to Young Lakes, then finished the next day via the Dog Lake trail (with a quick stop at Dog Lake of course). The whole trip totaled 15.7 miles with a fairly gradual elevation gain, and in fact, some harder core people do it in a day.

Young Lakes is actually 3 small lakes separated by 1/4 mile, each pretty well surrounded by an amphitheater of 10,000+ foot serrated granite spires. The scenery is jaw-dropping enough during the day, but when the sunlight melts over the mountaintops turning the rock faces bronze, that’s the money scene.


These 2 pictures were taken minutes apart.

There are plentiful camping options around all the lakes. We chose #2 because there seemed to be more people at 1 and I vetoed moving onto #3. I think we ended up being the only ones camped at #2!

Fall was definitely present at 10,000 feet, as a few snowflakes coated our tent during setup. Brrr.

The next day, we explored lake #3, which has a fantastic waterfall flowing from it (notice the icy grass?).

We loved our getaway and discovering more alpine lakes!

One response to “Backpacking California: Yosemite National Park – Young Lakes”

  1. misti says:

    “serrated granite spires”—love the visuals! And what a gorgeous place. Yosemite has never been high on my list to visit due to the crowds but maybe we’ll get there one day!

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