On your ascent up “The Wall” ( I like that name) we did find a hidden treasure. About 1/3 of the way up the climb, we came to rest on a corner of one of the west switchbacks. Looking west there is a very large Ponderosa Pine all by itself in your view. Looking back across the canyon you can see that you are just about at the height of Olmsted Point and that it is directly across the canyon. If you venture toward that tree across the face of the mountain, you will capture a glimpse and great picture spot for Half Dome. This location is only about 50 yards off the path but you will need to be careful of your footing and the slope could cause some a little trouble. If your heading to Clouds rest, then no need to stop here, but is Sunrise Lakes is your destination, not only is it a good break spot, it is a fantastic view. The switchbacks in November, are a bit tricky as Ice from the first snow has settled in on several areas of the trail, so footing and the right gear are important. The only other recommendation I have is pace, take your time, watch your step, take lots of breaks and drink your water. It is a long climb but you can do it, and it is worth it. Once you complete ” The Wall you reach a junction on top of the mountain, take a moment and catch your breath and get your barring’s. Sunrise Lakes are to the Left, Straight ahead will lead you to the trail for Clouds Rest. The Signs don’t say Sunrise Lakes, they instead point you to Sunrise Camp which is another 2.5 miles. Sunrise Lakes are only about a half mile from the junction.
The Trail will wind you right next to the first and third lake. Small climb from the First to the third as you go up along the ridge. The second Lake is off to the left and you need to watch for it as if you are focused on going up the hill you will miss it., it is about 100 yards off the path through a small set of trees. The lakes are not as large as The Cathedral Lakes and the mountain peaks are probably not as spectacular as other hikes, but still the granite domes reflect in this high mountain lake water just the same and they are so peaceful. Short trips around the lakes give you some great photo ops and on the First and Second Lake we walked over to the ridge overlooking the Tenaya Canyon which we just hiked through for a great panoramic view across the North Face of the Canyon, which includes Tuolumne Peak and MT Hoffman. Another great feature of this hike is the Granite erosion piles at the base of each lake. So fascination to see the large chunks of broken rock that have been shaven off the face by weather and ICE.
The Northern Face of the Tenaya Canyon. Includes Tuolumne Peak and MT. HoffmannNeedless to say once you have your fill of the lakes and start to head back on your day trip, the thoughts of going down are much more pleasant then going up the wall. Watch your steps coming down as this is where the twisted ankle comes into play. For our trip it was about 2.5 hours up and 1.5 hours down, so that might help you gauge your time. I would plan on 4-6 hours for this trip. Once you get back to the Tenaya Lake area, take time to go over to Tenaya Lake shores for a few great photo ops from the West Edge, looks like a popular item is stacking rocks in the lake, soaking your feet might feel nice, it is a very pleasant way to end this day hike.