This description follows the trail to Lower Gaylor Lake, which is longer and frequented less than the trail to Upper and Middle Gaylor Lakes. A short cross-country trek will take you from the lower lake to the others without the crowds. An alternative to hiking cross country is to drive to Tioga Pass and follow the short, steep trail to the upper and middle lakes from there.
Begin this hike from the Tuolumne Lodge parking area south of Tuolumne Meadows. The trail leads east from the trailhead along the Dana Fork Tuolumne River. The first two miles of the trek follow the Dana Fork closely, gaining little elevation. Nearing two miles from the trailhead the path splits. The route to Gaylor Lakes branches left crossing the stream and Tioga Road.
The trail begins to gain elevation steadily after crossing the highway. From this point in the valley the trail leads northward two miles to Lower Gaylor Lake. Once across the highway the trail parallels the outlet stream from the lakes. Approximately one and a half miles from the trail junction the trail veers west from the outlet stream toward Lower Gaylor Lake. The first lake is within one mile after the trail leaves the stream. Lower Gaylor Lake lies at 10,049 feet.
Beyond Lower Gaylor Lake are four other lakes: two Granite Lakes and Upper and Middle Gaylor Lakes. The other Gaylor Lakes are frequently visited due to a short, but steep trail from Tioga Pass. If you hike off-trail to these lakes don't expect solitude. To reach them hike eastward from the southeastern shore of Lower Gaylor Lake. You'll reach the outlet stream from the upper lakes within a half mile. Follow this creek northward to the lakes.
To reach the Granite Lakes from Lower Gaylor Lake walk to the northeastern shore. From there an inlet stream reaches the lake. Follow this stream northward one mile to southern Granite Lakes. Along this mile you'll gain 400 feet.
Directions from Tioga Pass: Follow Tioga Road westward approximately 6.5 miles to the access road for Tuolumne Lodge. Turn left on to this road and follow it past the lodge to the trailhead.
July through Mid-October
(NOTE: Opening and closing dates may vary depending on snowpack.)