The hike to Gaylor Lakes traverses one of the highest maintained trails in Yosemite National Park, and offers some of the most spectacular high-country views off Tioga Road. It begins from Tioga Pass, at an elevation of 9945 feet, and reaches heights of 10,540 feet along the saddle ridge between Gaylor Peak and the unnamed mountain to the south.
The hike begins with a fairly steep climb, which gains almost 600 feet during the first six-tenths of a mile. This is the hardest part of the hike, and will surely take your breath away, especially if you’re not acclimated to the altitude. From this point forward, however, the trail travels along mostly easy to moderate terrain.
From the eastern shore the trail skirts around to the northwest corner of the lake, before heading north towards Upper Gaylor Lake. The view of the lake along the north shore is quite interesting. From this angle it almost appears as if the lake is falling off a ledge on the opposite shore.
Today, five stone cabins, a powder house and a blacksmith shop remain as a monument to the old mining days in the High Sierra. The mine shafts have either collapsed or have been filled in.
Hikers should note that Tioga Road is usually open from about late May or early June, through the end of October.
You may also want to note that you can visit Lower Gaylor Lake via a 4.6-mile roundtrip hike from a separate trailhead, located a little more than 4 miles west of Tioga Pass.
Trail: Gaylor Lakes
RT Distance: 2.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 935 feet
Max Elevation: 10,540 feet
TH Location: Tioga Pass
Map: Yosemite National Park Trails Illustrated Map
Top Trails: Yosemite features 46 “must-do” hikes in Yosemite National Park, from scenic strolls, to full-day adventures, to spectacular backpacking trips. With at-a-glance information for each hike visitors can determine which hikes are most suitable to their skills, schedules and preferences. The book also provides elevation profiles, detailed maps, as well as information on which trails are child-friendly; where to see giant sequoias, waterfalls, lakes, wildflowers, autumn colors; the best photo opportunities; and which have camping, running or biking opportunities.