“Enjoy some of the best, unobstructed high Sierra views from this uncrowded trail”
— Megan W
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers
Tioga Road is closed during the winter, which may limit access.
Some rocky and rooty sections. High elevation will be noticeable on this workout.
On this less famous of the two area Gaylor Lakes Trails, you'll find more solitude and similar alpine beauty. There are two places to start this trail, either at the Tuolumne Lodge (as shown here in the map) or from Tioga Road where the trail crosses. If you opt to cut off the initial two miles by parking along the road it can be tricky to find the trail here and there is room for only a couple cars at skinny pullouts. Look for an old rusty trailhead sign a bit back from the road, about 1/2 mile east from a gated dirt road.
To get the full experience, start from the Tuolumne Lodge and parallel the burbling Dana Fork stream. Travel gently uphill through forest until reaching the Tioga Road crossing. Right before you get to the road, you have to cross the Dana Fork
by wading as there is no footbridge here. While in the late summer, early Fall this crossing may be done via rock hop, in the late spring or early summer, the Dana Fork
will be full of water from the snow melt, making the crossing tricky and wading a necessity. Use caution. Find the trail on the opposite side, just west of a small creek. Continue straight at the first intersection, passing the Gaylor Lakes Spur
on your left (west). After a clearing, take the left fork to stay on the Lower Gaylor Lakes trail, ignoring the Dana Fork Trail
that heads east to Mono Pass. Ascend through shady pine forest keeping an eye out for wildflowers along the way. There are some steeper rooty and rocky sections on the way up. Break out into open grass covered slopes and pass smaller rocky pools.
Relax on the shores of shallow but picturesque Lower Gaylor Lake. Romp or doze in the inviting 10,000 foot meadows here. There are great views of the rugged granite peaks in this area without as many pesky trees blocking the vistas.
Extra credit: it is also possible to reach the other Gaylor Lakes by finding a faint trail heading northeast through a stand of pines.
Flora & Fauna
Mice, marmot, pika, rabbits, deer, coyotes.