3 Perfect Backcountry Yosemite Trails For Hammock Campers

Located in the high sierras of California, Yosemite National Park needs no introduction.

Famed for its epic monoliths, ancient sequoia trees and dramatic waterfalls, it’s well-Instagrammed in today’s age.

Over the years, I’ve explored more than 30 national park areas. Yet, no matter how many places I go, something always pulls me back to Yosemite.

Its one of my favorite places for both hammocking and hammock camping.

After spending so much time in the park over the years, I’ve ranked my top three favorite no-crowd overnight hiking trails for hammockers. 

3) Ten Lakes Trail, 12.7 Mile RT

Ten Lakes Trail.

By far the most well-earned of views, the trail to Ten Lakes is a grungy one, climbing 3,097 vertical feet in just over 6 miles.

For the first 4 miles or so, the climb is relatively easy to moderate. The trail begins in the trees and gradually climbs through several alpine meadows.

As for the last 2 miles before you reach the lake, the pain can be palpable and hikers may take well over 2 hours to complete this section.

It’s possible to experience snowy conditions through the early summer months so bring the necessary gear depending on what month you intend to go.

Still, it’s the journey, not the destination that we value the most. Summiting the high point, Ten Lakes Pass, before dropping into the basin is reward in itself to experience this trail.

From here, you will be able to see the line of alpine lakes that gives this trail its name.

  • Where to Camp: There are plenty of well-spaced and strong trees near the lakes, making this a must-experience destination for backcountry hammock camping.

2) Ostrander Lake Trail, 12 Mile RT 

Ostrander Lake Trail

Ostrander lake trail is both an awesome hiking trail and cross-country ski trail, making it a year-round hammock camping destination.

(Note: Winter hammock camping is hardcore, especially in the remote, Sierra Nevada alpine. If you do plan to camp in the winter, make sure you’ve packed all the necessary equipment. Most xc ski travelers stay overnight at the stone ski hut located near the lake).  

The route climbs a little over 1,600 feet in elevation and is rated as moderate.

Unlike Ten Lakes, most of the hiking here is done in the trees. It’s easy to get into your “hiking zone” on the way to Ostrander lake.

  • Where to camp: Compared to Ten Lakes and Young Lakes, Ostrander is a moderately trafficked trail where you may run into fellow campers.

There are multiple well-spaced campsites with views of the lake to be found. Most all of them have sturdy trees perfect for a hang.

  • Fun Fact: The water from Ostrander Lake feeds into Bridalveil Creek, where it flows directly down through the iconic Bridalveil Falls.

​​​​1) Young Lakes Trail, 12.8 Mile RT

Young Lakes Trail

Young Lakes is the best-kept secret of Yosemite National Park.

You ask for trail recommendations from the local park rangers and they’ll list 10 options before admitting it exists.

I actually discovered the trail a few years back while trying to acquire a backcountry permit for Ostrander.

The trail is an out-and-back that leads to a string of several alpine lakes, aptly named lower, middle and upper young lake.

The trail is gradual, climbing just under 1,400 feet to reach the tree line, before dipping into the first alpine lake area.

Fishing is allowed with proper permits so bring your fly rods if that’s your thing.

  • Where to Camp: I recommend finding some hanging trees near middle young lake, where an incredible mountainous backdrop reflects on the surface.

As a wrap up, here's a note from Yosemite National Park Service on rules for hammocking in campgrounds:

“You may attach hammocks, clotheslines, and other tensioned lines in campgrounds as long as they do not create a hazardous condition and are padded to prevent damage to trees. These may not be attached to oak trees.”

About the Author

After spending 5 years testing gear, meeting people and exploring his home state of Colorado with his wife, Andrej realized something about the outdoor industry. Mostly, that it was complicated. Andrej set out to create no-nonsense gear that was just as easy to use as it was reliable. He recruited a team of wilderness professionals and educators and hit the drawing board. The result was simple gear that you could trust, with specs you understood. Now he’s inspiring others to get out there and explore, by giving them the confidence to trust both themselves and the gear they use.

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