One of the more historic and unknown mountains in Yosemite is Clouds Rest. The mountain’s current name comes from Lafayette H. Bunnell, who was the doctor of the Mariposa Battalion which explored Yosemite Valley and Yosemite in the nineteenth century before it became a National Park. Bunnell (whose name now graces the Bunnell Cascade along the Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley) named the mountain such because when he viewed it after a snowstorm, the clouds appeared to “rest” upon the mountain. At 9,930 feet of elevation, and with a distinctive knife-like arete ridge, Clouds Rest can be viewed easily from Yosemite Valley and various other peaks in the park, particularly as it towers above nearby Tenaya Canyon.
The great thing about the Happy Isles Trailhead is that it is the jumping off point not just for day hikes, but for many multi-day trips into the backcountry from Yosemite Valley. Over ninety-five percent of Yosemite is designated as wilderness, meaning that there are few roads other than trails, and that one must hike to get to these pristine locations. If the Mist Trail is the most popular day hike from Happy Isles, the most popular long distance/multi-day hike is Half Dome. Half Dome is both a day hike and a popular overnight destination, with many people electing to climb into Little Yosemite Valley to spend the night before rising early to summit the next day.