If you’re looking for wildflowers – or mosquitos – in Yosemite, then the Ten Lakes trail is THE place to go. As something of an amateur botanist and a secret lover of flat trails, this was a long overdue hike for me.
The first several miles are a relatively uneventful forested warm-up for the drop down to Grant Lake (a one-mile spur trail off the main route). Grant Lake is especially notable for its outlet which happens to be the main source of Yosemite Creek that, of course, feeds Yosemite Falls. The hanging gardens dropping down to the first lake were incredible, including giant larkspur, corn lilies, lupines galore, and green gentian. That last one was a special treat for me as it’s quite possibly my favorite flower in Yosemite. It just looks completely alien and intricately monochromatic.
From the Grant Lake junction, it’s a super short trek up to the Ten Lakes Pass which affords a breathtaking view of the high country and a few of the lakes below. I started my hike early to avoid crowds and thunderstorms, however clouds were already building when I topped out on the pass mid-morning. I still opted to make the steep trek down to at least get a close up of a couple of the lakes before booking it out ahead of the rain. The lakes were all similar, classic alpine lakes. Beautiful, reflective, buggy.
Since the sky was turning ominous and I had allowed myself to forget my rain jacket, I was in a bit of a rush to get out of exposed zones and back to the trees (and my car). One could easily spend days in that lake basin, hopping around from one amazing swimming spot to another. I was equally happy to get in a little trail run over those last few miles and not get soaked, either from swimming or rain. A 14(ish)-mile day hike was a great way to round out June in Yosemite.