As we prepared for our summer trip to Yosemite, we planned on doing two hikes. The first hike would be the Panorama Trail with our friends Robyn and Jason. The second hike we intended to do was the hike to Cathedral Lakes.
Our Panorama Trail hike did a number on our out-of-shape legs. And although we had two full days to recover, we seriously doubted our ability to take on another “moderate” trail. So I pulled out our handy book – Yosemite National Park: A Complete Hiker’s Guide – and started browsing for alternatives in the high country.
The morning of our final day, we got going early to drive up to the Tuolumne Meadows area and check out the hike to Gaylor Lakes.
What we gathered from our book was that the Gaylor Lakes hike was “easy” (a relative term for Yosemite hikes), offered beautiful scenery the likes of the Cathedral Lakes hike, and saw far fewer hikers. Winner!
The trailhead is located just inside the Tioga Pass entrance. It’s a pretty steep climb from there to the top of the ridge, but it’s not a long climb. Just as we were starting to regret our choice, the trail evened out and we were rewarded with glorious views of Dana Meadows and the surrounding mountains.
While the views behind us were beautiful, they were nothing compared to what awaited us just beyond the ridge…
The first lake you see is Middle Gaylor Lake. The lake is a good size and crystal clear. We made our way along the north side of the lake and then headed out towards Upper Gaylor Lake.
At this point, we started to encounter larger patches of snow. The snow was quickly melting, and the trail was more of a stream than a walkable path. We made it to the south edge of Upper Gaylor Lake and hit our end point. We were hoping to make it a little farther and get to the Great Sierra Mine, but the snow cancelled those plans. So we turned around and found a nice spot to sit, eat our snacks, and take in the view.
Seriously, I never wanted to leave. But eventually, it was time to start the hike out.
And carefully make our way down the steep stretch we struggled to hike up.
We absolutely loved the Gaylor Lakes hike in Yosemite National Park! It gave us just the right amount of challenge and rewarded us with amazing views. And our book was true to its word – There were barely any hikers out there. We encountered two guys headed out to fish, a dad and two boys heading back from fishing, and two other couples just hiking. For Yosemite, this is a rare occurrence. We soaked it up.
A beautiful day and a fun hike were the perfect endings to our time in Yosemite National Park and our summer vacation as a whole.