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Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?

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avatar Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
March 08, 2021 02:13PM
I've been planning a number of day hikes for this summer in and around Yosemite but am confused regarding parking access for Elizabeth Lake. The trail shows access from both the Visitor Center and the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Does the park actually permit people to park in the campground for day hike access to Elizabeth Lake or is that access for campground people only? Otherwise, I presume one has to use the Visitor Center entrance and take a portion of the John Muir Trail to connect to the Elizabeth Lake trail.
Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
March 09, 2021 04:38AM
IIRC, the closest lot to the Elizabeth Lake trailhead is in horse campsite loop in the TM campground, and it's unlikely they'll let you in without a TM campground reservation (but of course it never hurts to ask). So you'll likely need to park at the TM Visitors' Center as you've proposed and walk along the JMT (or along the road to the campground entrance), or in the lot by the platform tents disingenuously called "Tuolumne Lodge" (which is a slightly longer but definitely more scenic walk to the trailhead than the walk from the VC along the JMT), or in the lot at the base of Lembert Dome. Recreation.gov isn't showing campground maps right now, but you can see one here: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tmcamp.htm
Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
March 09, 2021 05:26AM
The ranger managing the kiosk allowed us to park near the trailhead in the campground. I think there were restrooms there? This was a few years ago, policy may have changed since then.
Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
March 09, 2021 04:49PM
Hi!! Good to hear from you!!!

Unless they changed the rules, you tell the kiosk ranger you want to day hike Elizabeth lake and they give you a special parking pass for the lot at the trailhead. And a map.

If the campground is closed due to COVID or whatnot, you will have to park at the nearest area open to public parking and hike in. The campground map is online, so u can navigate from wherever you park.
avatar Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
March 31, 2021 11:12AM
Thanks for the replies. I also contacted the Park Service who basically said the same thing, just ask. The lady I contacted said access may depend on how full the campground is, which will determine available parking space. And yes, it's near some restrooms.
Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
April 23, 2021 09:31PM
As a TM Store employee, this question comes up a lot. The first thing ... help you identify the general area and where best to park.
My usual store answer-
"Many just leave their car at the store parking lot (highly discouraged) but you can park at the old gas station lot (~100 yards west), or anywhere along 120 as long as long as you are over (that's all 4 wheels!) inside the white line.
However, you can park much closer to the Elizabeth TH. After you enter the TM campground proper (the drive in entrance is off 120, just east of the store... just west of the river). Once there, about 200 yards in (south), the semi-paved, pot-holed road meanders/ leads to the small Ranger Kiosk and the campground proper... Often staffed (or maybe not) depending on time of day. If the Ranger is there, just tell them you are going to the Elizabeth Lake TH...parking up there is ample/ always allowed...but where is it?
Easiest way to best describe the TM campground specifics is to look at at your right hand, palm down. Driving in from the elbow (120), your thumb represents the A loop ...runs all along the Tuolumne river... these are the most requested/ desirable camp sites.
The road then leads to the area between your thumb and pointer finger where the road passes the backpacker camp site ..no cars allowed overnight....only 15 minute parking...but there are stone restrooms here.
Next, the pointer finger is the B loop...the road you want. Take the B loop road up to the very end (south) about a half mile...there is a small horse corral and a generous parking area...and a marked Elizabeth Lake trail sign."

Just to add though...near the Tioga entrance, about the same altitude to gain is the Gaylor Lakes TH. IMHO, a much better day hike if only have one day to visit.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/23/2021 09:37PM by markskor.
Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
April 25, 2021 01:40AM
Just to add though...near the Tioga entrance, about the same altitude to gain is the Gaylor Lakes TH. IMHO, a much better day hike if only have one day to visit.

At Tioga entrance you start at 10K elevation and at Elizabeth Lake TH you start at 8600, don't know if that makes a difference for most people. Both good day hikes, both scenic, in different ways (hike to EL is largely under tree cover most of the way, Gaylor is more exposed more of the time ergo more views more of the time)...if you arrive early in the day, you can do both.
Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
April 25, 2021 09:13AM
I prefer Gaylor Lakes as a dayhike...magnificent views there..but my wife finds the steep climb less than fun. She votes for Elizabeth Lake.

Nice to have such choices.

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
avatar Re: Elizabeth Lake day hike parking?
May 29, 2021 11:05AM
Actually, I've already been to Gaylor Lakes for a day hike. In the same day it's also a relatively easy continuation from there (off trail) to the overlook above Upper Granite Lakes. Views from there are terrific. The only reason I thought of Elizabeth Lake was because it was a short hike option to someplace I've never been.
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