If the words off trail worry you a bit when considering a backpack trip to Yosemite National Park. Take a deep breath fro a second and continue. I am about to share with you an adventure that is a perfect way to start your off trail adventures in Yosemite. Nelson Lake, located int he Cathedral Mountain Range out of Tuolumne Meadows is a destination for beginning off trail backpackers.

Nelson Lake does require a Wilderness Permit, but is close enough to Tuolumne meadows that it is accessible for day hikers as well as Backpackers and the lake provides stunning views, great shoreline fishing and on a hot summer hike a nice cool place to take a swim.

We discovered Nelson lake while speaking with a Instagram follow @lakesofyosemite when I asked where a good place to go off trail in Yosemite this was the first recommendation. Trail access is through a limited quota draw out of the Elizabeth Lake trailhead and requires a nice “off Trail climb out of Elizabeth Lake and fairly simple navigation through a classic Yosemite Valley Meadow, before ascending up the to Nelson Lake located at the base of a commonly referred to mountain called Choo choo Rock (pictured Above)

Over All Nelson lake is approx a 5 mile hike from Tuolumne Meadow. Nelson Lake sits at 9,605 feet which means no campfires allowed during your visit. Nelson Lake is also neighbored by Raymond Lake to the East. Nelson Lake shoreline is tree lined over half the lake with a Large Meadow shoreline on the eastern edge.