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Swimming & Waterplay: California

Quick Facts

Elizabeth Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,600 Feet (2680.8 Meters) Elizabeth Lake Trailhead
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain, One-way: 850 Feet (265.0 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 9,430 Feet (2939.5 Meters) Elizabeth Lake
Length, One-way: 2.5 Miles (4.17 Kilometers)
Recommended Season: Early Fall
Usage: Heavy

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The trail to Elizabeth Lake begins from the horse camp in Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Park at the trailhead within the campground and begin by hiking southward. Within a few minutes of the trailhead you'll cross the John Muir Trail leading eastward from Cathedral Lakes.

After this trail crossing the route to Elizabeth Lake begins to ascend, gently at first, then more steeply. The steepest terrain is ascended during the first mile of this trek. The trail reaches the eastern bank of Unicorn Creek at one and a half miles from the trailhead. Shortly after reaching the creek the trail levels. It is less than a mile to the lake from this point. Continue climbing along the stream then turn right on to a spur trail that leads to the eastern shore of Elizabeth Lake.

This is a short trip to some magnificent scenery. Fishing and swimming are permitted at this high alpine, glacier-formed lake. Unicorn Peak forms the backdrop for any activity around Elizabeth Lake.

Directions from Tioga Pass: Follow Tioga Road westward approximately 7 miles to the access road for Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Turn left in to the campground. Follow signs to the campgrounds horse camping area. The trailhead lies near the bathrooms of the horse camp.

Directions from Arch Rock Entrance: Follow Highway 140 northward to Big Oak Flat Road. Turn left on to Big Oak Flat Road and travel 9.5 miles to Tioga Road. Turn eastward (right) on Tioga Road and drive 39 miles to the campground access road. Follow signs to the campgrounds horse camping area. The trailhead lies near the bathrooms of the horse camp.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Mid-June through September (NOTE: The trail may be snow covered during the Summer months.) .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Trailhead Parking Elizabeth Lake Trail - Tuolumne Meadows Campground
ICON Backpacking Elizabeth Lake Trail - wilderness permit required for overnight camping
ICON Dispersed Camping Elizabeth Lake Trail - wilderness permit required
ICON Geology Elizabeth Lake Trail
ICON Fishing Elizabeth Lake Trail
ICON Hiking & Walking Elizabeth Lake Trail
ICON Plant Identification Elizabeth Lake Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Mono Pass Trail
ICON Swimming & Waterplay Elizabeth Lake Trail

Related Activities
Tuolumne Meadows Campground - This site is open for tents, campers and RVs with half of the 314 sites available on a first come, first served basis.

More Information

Visitor Information:

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543


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