The hike to May Lake is a bit of the essence of Yosemite -- expansive views over granite peaks, a sparkling blue lake set below 10,000... more »' Mount Hoffmann, a subalpine forest, and, well, other people. This is not where you go for a solitary backcountry escape - but it is a delightful and beautiful place to take someone for their first backpacking trip or just an enjoyable day hike.
This route, the shortest way to May Lake, starts at the Snow Flat trailhead which is reached via a rough, narrow, but paved road off the Tioga Road. There is a vault toilet and bear boxes here, but limited parking. The trail moves upwards, slowly at first, but with a steadily greater incline until you hit a few switchbacks. Stop on the way and make sure to check out the views - they're great!
At the top of the hill - just off the trail is a ridge with an excellent view and a great place to stop for a snack - the trail levels out again and quickly reaches the May Lake Backpacking Camp. There are bear boxes, a water spigot, and a flush toilet (!) here, and campsites all along the southeastern shore. The May Lake High Sierra Camp is along the northern end of the lake. There is a good use trail following the southern shore that, if you follow it long enough and high enough, will take you to the summit of 10,850' Mount Hoffmann, near the geographic center of Yosemite and with great views in all directions. less «