Yosemite National Park

An adventurous journey with 10+ mile hikes
Ideal for first-timers
Trek into the wilderness and sleep in the backcountry

Escaping the crowds and exploring Ten Lakes in Yosemite National Park

Escaping the crowds and exploring Ten Lakes in Yosemite National Park

Escaping the crowds and exploring Ten Lakes in Yosemite National Park

Escaping the crowds and exploring Ten Lakes in Yosemite National Park

Escaping the crowds and exploring Ten Lakes in Yosemite National Park

Designed by Yvonne Leow

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Last updated
June 7, 2022

Trip · 3-day backpacking trip

For · Friends and beginner backpackers

Vibe · Challenging and hard

Distance  · 11.8 miles round-trip with 2,959 feet of elevation gain

Permits · Yep! Reserve a $15 Ten Lakes wilderness permit at least a week at 7 am PDT before your trip. Additional campers are $5 each.

Drive · 4 hours from SF

Ideal dates · July to September (after the snow melts!)

Pets · Not allowed on trails

Yosemite National Park (YNP) is one of California's crown natural gems, featuring 750,000+ acres, 800+ hiking trails, and nearly 95% of the park designated as wilderness. From Yosemite Valley to Half Dome, the park draws about four million visitors a year(!) and was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984. You'll encounter crowds and occasionally bears in YNP, but you'll never leave disappointed.

Official National Park Website

Official Trail Information

Directions to Trailhead

Main image credit: Hike Arizona

Stuff to know

  • There's a $35 park entrance fee per vehicle (credit cards only)
  • Bear canisters are required! Learn more.
  • Bring yo' bug spray. Mosquitoes like to hang out by the lakes.
  • Campfires are allowed near Ten Lakes because the area is below 9,600 feet in elevation. Keep an eye out for fire restrictions though, especially during the summer.
  • Practice Leave No Trace! That means properly poopin' in the backcountry and carrying out what you carry in.

Resources

Check the weather
Ten Lakes Trail in Yosemite National Park
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Itinerary

Day One

Ten Lakes Trail. Credit: AllTrails

Leave SF as early as you can

  • Last pit stop · Chevron - 8028 Big Oak Flat Road in Yosemite National Park
  • Nearest grocery store · Mar Val - 19000 Main Street in Groveland - It's still a 70-minute drive from the trailhead so stock up on food before you arrive.

Park at Ten Lakes Trailhead and hike to Ten Lakes

  • It's 6 mile one-way hike, with 1,514 feet of elevation gain, to reach Ten Lakes
  • Download a trail map before you depart
  • Power up on some snacks, use the restroom, layer on sunscreen, bug spray, and fill up your water bottles (at least 2 L) at the trailhead. Streams might run dry depending on the season so fill up where ever you can along the way, or carry enough to get you to the lake.
  • It's a steady climb, but the payoff is worth it!

Arrive at Ten Lakes Basin and find a place to camp

  • Backcountry campsites are first-come, first-serve
  • There are plenty of sites around Ten Lakes and neighboring lakes
  • Find your perfect spot!

Jump in!

  • Cool off and take a swim in Ten Lakes

Relax and cook up dinner

  • You did it! Enjoy your first night in Yosemite National Park

Car to camp: 6 miles - 1,514 feet of elevation gain - 5 to 6 hours

The word "Yosemite" means killer in Miwok, and is the name the Miwok gave to the Awahneechee people, who were driven out of Yosemite Valley by the Mariposa Battalion.

Day Two

Ten Lakes in Yosemite National Park
Ten Lakes. Credit: The Outbound.

Make brekkie, pack a lunch, and explore nearby lakes

  • You'll find more solitude as you wander off to nearby lakes
  • Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes! They like to hang out in the summer.

Enjoy lunch by the lake

  • Read, relax, and mosey on back to camp

Start a campfire and cook up dinner

  • Savor your last evening in Yosemite

Camp to camp: ~3 miles - 2 hours

President Roosevelt's visit to Yosemite in 1903 inspired him to sign inspired him to establish five national parks, 18 national monuments, 55 national bird sanctuaries and wildlife refuges, and 150 national forests.

DAY THREE

The Lucky Buck Cafe
The Lucky Buck Cafe. Credit: Yelp

Pack up and leave camp around 7 AM

  • Cook up brekkie, pick up any random pieces of litter around camp, and save some snacks for the return trek
  • Layer on sunscreen, bug spray, and fill up your water bottles!
  • It should be a faster, mostly downhill hike

Hike 6 miles back to Ten Lakes Trailhead

Drive to Lucky Buck Cafe for lunch

  • Lucky Buck Cafe is a local institution that dishes up delicious diner food
  • Located at 7647 State Highway 120 in Groveland
  • Open Mondays to Sundays · 8 AM to 9 PM

Head home!

Camp to car: 6 miles - 1,514 feet of elevation gain - 4 to 5 hours

There are about 40 species within Yosemite that are protected under California's endangered species law

Packing List

Essential Items
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Clothing
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Personal Stuff
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Camp Kitchen
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Shared Gear
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Recommended gear

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