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Tioga Lake

Inyo National Forest

July 1st, 2009

1.2 miles
70 vertical feet
Total Time: 1:58

Starting elevation
9653 feet
Max elevation
9706 feet

Rating: 8/10

Directions: From Lee Vining, take Highway 395 south. Turn right onto Highway 120 and head up towards Tioga Pass. Just before reaching the Yosemite entrance, turn left into the Tioga Lake campground. If there is no available day use parking (there isn't much), you can park a little further down the road (closer to Yosemite).   View Driving Map

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GPX File

We started this hike after an early dinner, at about 6pm. This rare evening hike was reminiscent of a hike around Manzanita Lake at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Hiking around the lake in the evening has the advantage of it being less crowded, there's less road noise coming from nearby Highway 120 (Tioga Pass Road), and the light is beautiful. One disadvantage of hiking at this time of day is that the mosquitoes are out in force. So be prepared with bug repellent.

Mount Dana over Tioga Lake

Tioga Lake

Our first order of business was crossing the inlet stream next to the campground. We rock hopped to get across, then followed the sometimes faint trail along the shore. The trail is a mix of forest and open grassy areas, with a few rocky sections here and there. While the trail is hard to follow once in a while, it is easy to pick it up again later since it just follows the shore.

Trail along the shore

The peak of Mount Dana peeks over a lesser summit that rises from the southeastern shore of the lake. The mountain reflects nicely in the still waters at this time of day. We encountered hardly anyone else on this hike, although we did see a few people fishing.

Rocky section of shore

We stopped on one rocky section to skip rocks in the water before moving on. We eventually came to a large patch of snow at the southern end of the lake. Despite the elevation (nearly 10,000 feet), this was the only snow along the shore, and it looked like it would be gone within about two weeks.

Mount Dana reflecting in Tioga Lake

Mount Dana reflecting in Tioga Lake

We saw another inlet stream on the opposite (eastern) shore, near where two people were fishing. The trail looks like it goes all the way around the lake. However, it was getting late, so we decided to turn around just past the snow patch. If we didn't stop, it would probably be easy to circumnavigate the lake after dinner. I think it's about 2 miles around.

Two people fly-fishing at Tioga Lake

Probably Tioga Peak rising over Tioga Lake

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