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Royal Arch and Buena Vista Lake Trail

Intermediate
 4.0 (2)

An enjoyable run to two stunning backcountry lakes within Yosemite Wilderness.


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Map Key

3.7

Miles

6.0

KM

90%

Runnable

9,335' 2,845 m

High

8,503' 2,592 m

Low

853' 260 m

Up

331' 101 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

26%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs No Dogs

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

Description

This trail climbs to the Buena Vista Crest and passes two impressive backcountry lakes. The first 2.5 miles of the run are steady uphill through meadows and lodgepole pine forest. Royal Arch Lake is the first highlight after about 0.7 miles. The lake got its name from the arches in the massive granite wall that frames the lake on the northeast side. Huge granite slabs have peeled away and revealed several onion-like layers that make up the arches. The lake is surrounded by green meadows. Since the lakeshore is very fragile, make sure to camp far enough away.

Wildflower meadows and pine forest keep alternating as you continue to ascend to the Buena Vista Pass. The pass itself is very anticlimactic, but as you descend towards Buena Vista Lake, you get a few good views north towards Horse Ridge and Buena Vista Peak to your very left. Soon enough, Buena Vista Lake appears right below you. The lake is framed with barren granite on the south side. The water is stunningly blue. Hop across the Buena Vista Creek outlet and get direct access to the lake. Camping spots at a safe distance from the lake are abundant. From the lake, it's a short descent to reach the Buena Vista junction. Continue left to the Chilnualna lakes or right to Mount Starr King.

Contacts

Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

Shared By:

Tilman Giese

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#10189

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#1,043

in California

#10,189

Overall
12 Views Last Month
914 Since Apr 3, 2019
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Photos

West side of Royal Arch Lake
Apr 3, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA
Buena Vista Lake and Buena Vista Peak
Apr 3, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA
Royal Arch Lake as the sun slowly rises above the Buena Vista Crest
Apr 3, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA
View north from the ascent up Buena Vista Pass towards Horse Ridge
Apr 3, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA
View from the Buena Vista junction across the Yosemite Wilderness
Apr 3, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA
The outlet of Buena Vista Lake feeding Buena Vista Creek
Apr 3, 2019 near Yosemit…, CA

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