Highlights: One of the best day hikes in Yosemite, Mount Hoffman is a lesser known peak which is actually quite easily reached with an exciting scramble at the top. This hike takes you past the beautifully blue May Lake, a high alpine lake at 9,329′. We then follow the trail away from the lake and above tree-line to the rock-boulders that make up the last climb to the top of what is known as the geographical center of Yosemite National Park. Mount Hoffman was also known as offering one of John Muir’s favorite views within all of the park, offering a full 360 degree view of the high country.
Meeting Location: Sunrise Trailhead at 8,150′
High Point: Mount Hoffman summit at 10,850′
Elevation Gain: 2,700′
This trip can begin in one of two ways depending on personal preference. Your guide can either meet you at Sunrise Lakes Trailhead near Tenaya Lake’s Western shore, which will make the day’s hike 11 miles total, or we may meet at May Lake Parking lot (if open), which cuts off 4 miles from the day making the trek 7 miles round trip. From Sunrise trailhead, it is a quick and flat warmup hike .7 miles to Tioga Pass road. Here we will cross a crosswalk to continue 1.3 miles on a 700 foot vertical foot ascent to May Lake Parking lot. If you choose to begin the day at May Lake parking lot, don’t worry about the aforementioned; your trip will start here.
From May Lake Parking lot, the trail takes us along a mildly strenuous 1.1 miles ascending 500 vertical feet to the May Lake high sierra camp, an absolutely beautiful high sierra lake, and one of the largest by area in Yosemite National Park. After enjoying a swim, snacks, water and relaxation here at May Lake, we will continue to our final destination, a 2 mile, 1500 vertical foot climb to the peak of Mount Hoffman. This is the most strenuous 2 miles of the day, being uphill the whole way. The last mile up, we will be hiking upon loose granite boulders and rocks through a indefinite trail marked by cairns, or rock stacks. From the base of the summit, it is about a 150 vertical foot moderately steep scramble up granitic boulders to the peak. Reaching the peak is very much worth the tough trek, being the geographical center of the park and reaching higher than Cloud’s Rest and Half Dome at 10850 feet, Mount Hoffman provides a 360-degree perspective of the entire park. With incredible views of Half Dome, Cloud’s Rest, the Clark Range, the Cathedral Range and Tuolumne’s High Country, and of the park’s northern borders it is easy to understand why this huge exfoliating mountain was John Muir’s favorite view.
After you have had your fill of the overwhelming views from the peak, we will backtrack the trail, all downhill, descending 1500 vertical feet back to May Lake, where another swim or fishing session may be enjoyed. Now we continue retracing 1.1 miles down to the May Lake parking lot. If you started here, this is where our day will end after sweet reminisces and goodbyes. If you began at Sunrise Lakes trailhead, our final stretch will be two excess miles descending 700 vertical feet back to the finish line at Sunrise parking lot.
Guides carry first aid kits, water purification methods, toilet paper (for emergencies), suntan lotion and bug repellent. Please plan to bring your own lunch, snacks, water bottles, etc. Remember, all profits from our guided trips go towards supporting our youth summer camp program.
Note: Should weather, fire, and/or delayed seasonal openings affect the chosen itinerary, a different itinerary will be offered. You will be kept in contact throughout this process.