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Harden Lake Trail



5.9 mile 9.5 kilometer out and back
97% Runnable


Ascent: 499' 152 m
Descent: -499' -152 m
High: 7,862' 2,396 m
Low: 7,449' 2,270 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 10% (6°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Megan W

Reach a pretty lake via an easy river-side trail dotted with cascades, swimming holes & wildflowers.

Megan W

Features Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers


Although this is not one of the most spectacular lakes in Yosemite scenery-wise (that bar is pretty high), it is a worthwhile trip if you're staying in this area. Along the way you enjoy running through serene forest along the banks of the rushing Middle Tuolumne River.

Runner Notes

This was an old road, so the surface is smooth and the trail is wide.


Begin across from the White Wolf Lodge, past the campground where a gate bars the old road to vehicles. Use the bridge to cross over the Middle Tuolumne River and head generally northwards along the shore. In early season, the river is a torrent of crashing water, but by summer pools form that are fun for swimming if the conditions are safe.

At the first trail junction, you can go either way - the main trail branches left and the the Harden Lake Cutoff branches right, rejoining the main trail shortly. On the main trail, another intersection soon appears, this time stay right, ignoring the Old Tioga Road trail that goes west. The Harden Lake Cutoff rejoins the main trail and now it is not far to the lake itself. Just before reaching the shores, the Smith Peak to Harden Lake Trail turns off to the left, heading northwest. Stay right at the fork and arrive at the small tree-lined Harden Lake. Folks swim and wade in the shallow water here, which warms and shrinks as the season progresses. There is also a wildflower-filled meadow adjacent to the lake, the inhabitants reach peak bloom by June and early July.

Extra credit: if you'd like to see a distant and partial view of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, head around to the east side of Harden lake to the 3-way trail junction. Take the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne trail about 1/2 a mile down steep switchbacks. From an opening in the trees you should be able to see the east end of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.

Once you're ready to head back to the campground, return the same way that you came.

Flora & Fauna

Columbine, lupine, yarrow, buttercups. Lodgepole pine, aspen, Jeffery pines.

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Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

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Jul 2, 2017
Angie Bright

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Harden Lake Trail
Dec 14, 2017 near Yosemit…, CA