Trip Type: Out and Back - 2 Days, 1 Nights
Total Trip Mileage 14 miles (7 miles each way) on CalTopo
Altitude Gain: 2300' gross
Trail Difficulty: Moderate. This trail is fit for children and families. Lower Young Lake has plenty of camping and fishing attracting hikers of all capabilities
Season: Mid/Late Season
Trail Traffic: Expect high trail traffic, particularly at the start through to Dog Lake as this area is frequented by numerous day hikers. Traffic drops off in October.
WSH Trip Rating: 4 out of 5 stars: You'll really have a hard time beating Yosemite and this hike is right up there. Once you break out from the trees you get stunning view to the south all the way to Ritter and Banner. Young Lakes are also beautiful. Take the time to visit upper Young Lake - it's not a long walk and you'll have an opportunity to enjoy a bit more of a raw Sierra environment. This was Well Seasoned Hikers first time to Young Lakes and we visited in October so there was zero bug pressure but based on what people have told me and what we witnesses (dry meadows) this area has intense early season bug pressure. Plan accordingly.
Day 1: Tuolumne Meadows to Middle Young Lake: ~7.1 miles
Pace yourself when leaving the parking lot if you're coming from sea level. The first 500' climb (in .6 miles) will get your attention. It's not difficult but again, some hikers have a tendency to blast out the gate. I don't think you want to do that in this case. The rest of the hike is quite pleasant with ample opportunities to rest as the trail levels out and undulates until mile 3. At mile 3 you reach a second climb of 600' over a mile to a "mini-pass". Once reached you drop down a steep grade to connect with a secondary trail to Young Lakes. Once joining this second trail is a mile and a half cruise to the first Young Lake which has numerous campsites on the right side of the trail as you walk along the north shore line of the lake. For those looking for a little more peace continue you on to middle Young Lake where, again, there are numerous camping opportunities on the north side of the lake just behind a small rise. Finally, upper Young Lake is stunning but the hike between middle and upper is a bit tricky and grown over. But, for those willing to endure the extra work it's well worth it.
Day 2 - Reverse Day 1
- Lot's of camping at Lower Young Lake but YOU WILL have neighbors. Plan accordingly
- Early season (before August) be prepared for mosquitos. Heavy bug pressure in this area.
- Make it a 3 day trip and climb Mt Conness. That was our plan but my partner fell ill.