Climb To Yosemite National Park's Popular Viewpoint On This Trail

We won't lie. This trail isn't easy. But the effort you'll put in might be worth it for the views at the peak of the Cloud's Rest hike.

The Cloud's Rest trail at Yosemite National Park is a great alternative to the ever-popular Half Dome hike. Why would you want an alternative to the breathtaking Half Dome? Well, for one, Half Dome is a pretty strenuous hike with a length somewhere between 14 to 16 miles, depending on if you take the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail to start. Additionally, despite the competitive lottery system, it's still incredibly crowded during peak seasons, so there's little chance you'll ever get the trail to yourself.

If you're looking for a challenging hike where you can get some one-on-one time with nature, Half Dome probably isn't going to be the trail for you. On the other hand, Cloud's Rest is still challenging but a little shorter and far less busy than Half Dome. As a result, no permits are required! But what is so great about Cloud's Rest, and what do you need to know before taking on this trail? Keep on reading to learn more.

Here's why Cloud's Rest is a favorite among park rangers

As its name might suggest, Cloud's Rest is best known for its breathtaking panoramic views at the peak of the hike. If you needed any more convincing that Cloud's Rest is a great alternative to Half Dome, let us also inform you that this viewpoint actually has views of Half Dome ... about 1,000 feet above it. We rest our case ... Well, not quite yet. There are a few more things that make this trail off-the-charts amazing.

As we mentioned, this trail is definitely a task, but nothing you can't accomplish in one day as long as you arrive early and are prepared with food and plenty of water. The hike doesn't involve nearly as much shiver-inducing scaling of sheer granite paths as Half Dome but is still challenging. So, if you've got some older kiddos who are experienced hikers, this might be a great way to introduce them to a longer, more strenuous hike.

Cloud's Rest does get a bit crowded in the peak seasons, but, again, not nearly as much as Half Dome. As long as you come early to get started, you shouldn't run into too many people or have trouble finding parking.

What to expect when taking on Cloud's Rest trail

Cloud's Rest trail is around 12 miles long with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain and can take about eight hours round trip to complete. Not for the faint of heart, for sure! So come prepared with the proper hiking shoes and clothing, lots of food and snacks, and about three liters of water since there are no taps along the trail. However, you can use a filter to fill up at water sources along the way.

The best time to hike this trail is in the summer months. In the spring, the water levels at the Tenaya Creek might be higher due to snow melt, which can cover a portion of the trail, making it difficult to cross. July and August have the best weather, but this is also when the mosquitoes come out, so bring some repellant with you. The ideal time to visit is in September when the temperatures cool a bit and the mosquitoes retreat. This will also coincide with kids going back to school, so the park might be a bit quieter, too.

While it is challenging, most of the trail is pretty manageable, especially if you're fit. However, expect to have some butterflies as you gaze up the path to the summit. It's a pretty steep drop on both sides. If you get nervous, just keep looking ahead at the path and avoid looking at the horizon. Save that for when you get to the top!