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Banner: Miles and Elevations Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows
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Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows
Miles and Elevations

Backpacking
Emigrant Wilderness and the North Yosemite Backcountry

Backpacking Miles and Elevations on the Pacific Crest Trail through the High Sierra Nevada Mountains

 

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MILES
NORTH

PCT

Ebbetts
Pass
to
Sonora
Pass

MILES
SOUTH

JMT-PCT

Tuolumne Meadows
to
Reds
Meadow

MILES
INDEX

TYT-PCT

Highway
108
to
Tuolumne
Meadows

REGIONAL
MAPS

PCT

Sonora Pass
to
Kennedy
Canyon

Sonora Pass
Region

TRAIL
GUIDE
INDEX

TYT-PCT

Sonora
Pass
to
Tuolumne
Meadows

 

TRAIL
HEADS

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TRAIL
Crossroads

MAPS
INDEX

PCT

Sonora
Pass
to
Tuolumne
Meadows

ALL
MAPS

INDEX

TRAIL
GUIDE

INDEX

PERMITS
Stanislaus

SIERRA
WEATHER

Sonora
Pass
WEATHER

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Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness

Miles & Elevations

The Pacific Crest Trail

Sonora Pass
to
Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite
73.71 miles

Backpacking Miles

Along the Edge of the Emigrant Wilderness into the Yosemite Backcountry

Backpacking South on the Pacific Crest Trail route from Sonora Pass hikes us along the far Eastern edge of the Emigrant Wilderness. The Wilderness Boundary follows the Sierra Crest line dividing the Stanislaus National Forest on the West flank from the Toiyabe National Forest on the East. We bounce between the two as we wind our way through the sea of mountaintops composing the Leavitt Massif.

Descending the South flank of Leavitt Peak the Pacific Crest Trail turns East into Kennedy Canyon and solidly into the Toiyabe National Forest for the remainder of the hike into Yosemite National Park via Dorothy Lake Pass.

Sonora Pass to Bensen Lake backpacking Map Detailed Northbound Sonora Pass Hiking Map
Detailed Southbound Sonora Pass Hiking Map Southbound Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Miles and Elevations

All distances measured are South from Sonora Pass

Location  Elevation Mileage
Start: Sonora Pass  9643 0    

Below is the mileage for the "locals" shortcut up the ridge arm descending down to Sonora Pass off the North-Northwestern end of the Leavitt Massif. The shortcut route intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail where the PCT finally reaches the Northwestern ridge arm.
The shortcut route is also the Winter route up to the top of the Leavitt massif, and our hike up to Leavitt Peak. See the map for route details.

Shortcut Route

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Location  Elevation Mileage
Sonora Pass 9643  0    
  +837 .8    
PCT/Shortcut Junction 10,480 .8  
Total elevation Gain
Bay to Pass
+ feet
over
8.88 miles

 

If we take the shortcut route, we must subtract 1 mile from all the subsequent mileages listed below for the PCT route South to Tuolumne Meadows.

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The PCT Route up Leavitt

Rather than heading straight up the Northwestern ridge arm of the Leavitt massif, as the shortcut route above does, the Pacific Crest Trail takes a more circuitous route up the Leavitt Massif.

The PCT turns Southeast from Sonora Pass to cross a relatively flat zone across the base of the North flank of the Leavitt Massif, to where the trail climbs a low ridge arm to gain access to the trail's long East-West traverse of the North flank of the Leavitt Massif. This traverse is along a long well-graded, well-maintained trail between the mountain's Northeastern and Northwestern shoulders.

Southbound hikers will climb this traverse from East to West. Check out the Trail Guide for a close look at our hiking options on the North side of Leavitt Peak.

At the far Western end of the PCT's traverse up the North flank, the PCT and shortcut trail link up, and the PCT turns directly South to work its way up to and around the Western flank of Peak 10,480, which sits atop the North Flank of the Leavitt Massif. Once we get up there Leavitt Peak itself will finally come into view.

Pacific Crest Trail Route

Distances are measured from Sonora Pass

Location  Elevation Mileage
PCT/Shortcut Junction  10,480 1.81    
  +320 .57    
The Gap above Latopie Lake 10,800 2.38    
Total elevation Gain
Bay to Pass
+ feet
over
8.88 miles

As we can see, the shortcut South up from Sonora Pass saves us one mile. But we will have to do a small bit of climbing with our packs on. I have taken this shortcut during all four seasons. Crampons and Ice axe are required during Winter, and expert skills are necessary in Summer if you are carrying a very heavy pack.

Location  Elevation Mileage
The Gap above Latopie Lake 10,800 2.38    
-20 .28    
Latopie Lake trail Junction 10,780 2.66  
Total elevation Gain
Bay to Pass
+ feet
over
8.88 miles

 

The Latopie Lake Loop

Below: 2.38 miles South of Sonora Pass we climb towards a gap along a spur of Leavitt's crest-line running East and West. Great views to the North-Northeast and South-Southeast open up from this gap. At our feet to the South we see Latopie Lake nestled in a few hundred yards below the line of the trail.

The mileage and elevations below reflect the route down from the unmarked Latopie Lake Junction to Latopie Lake, and then back to the PCT via a cross-country hike South of Latopie Lake.

This is marked as the "Latopie Loop" on the 30 minute backpacking map.

In the past I preferred the Latopie Loop to the Pacific Crest Trail through here due to the poor trail quality of the PCT as it crossed a massive ridge of very sharp unstable talus above Latopie Lake. And, I've spent many first nights of trips at Latopie Lake. In recent years the Stanislaus National Forest has broken up this old nasty scree-trail section of the Pacific Crest Trail that loops around and above Latopie Lake into a very nicely bedded trail.

That's a lot of hard work with sledgehammers, and my thanks go out to the trail crews who did the hard work to break up all of this high altitude skree into a well-packed gravel walkway easing our way through this beautiful, but difficult, landscape.

In any case, if we decide to have lunch or camp at Latopie Lake we don't have to backtrack back up to the PCT the same way we came down to it. Continuing a bit down and a bit South a short distance past Latopie Lake brings us to a hanging valley that we can work our way Southwest into for a short cross country route back up to the Pacific Crest Trail. We rejoin the PCT at the top of this hanging valley where the PCT passes onto the South Flank of Leavitt Peak through the gap dividing the Leavitt Lake basin from the Kennedy Lake valley.

See the map for specifics on the Latopie Lake Loop. It's a nice little walk.

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Latopie Lake Loop

(1.64 miles total from leaving to rejoining the Pacific Crest Trail)

Distances are measured from Sonora Pass

Location  Elevation Mileage
Latopie Lake trail Junction 10,780 2.66    
-380 .41    
Al Camp by Latopie Lake 10,400 3.07  
  +240 1.23    
Back to PCT at the gap above Kennedy Lake 10,640 4.3    
Total elevation Gain
Bay to Pass
+ feet
over
8.88 miles

 

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The Pacific Crest Trail Route

Location  Elevation Mileage
Latopie Lake trail Junction 10,780 2.66    
-140 1.83    
Gap above Kennedy Lake
Hikers to the top of Leavitt Peak turn Right here, while hikers Southbound on the PCT follow the trail Left to Kennedy Canyon.
10,640 4.49  

Taking the Latopie Loop route takes .19 of a mile off of the Pacific Crest Trail route.


Total elevation Gain
Bay to Pass
+ feet
over
8.88 miles

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Sonora Pass area options

RECAP

We have two trail options for "shortcuts" heading South between Sonora Pass to the Gap overlooking Leavitt Lake's basin to our Northeast, and down at the valley to our Southwest cradling Kennedy Lake.

The first shortcut is the "locals" shortcut from Sonora Pass straight up the Mountain's Northwestern ridge-arm reaching down to Sonora Pass. This route shortcuts the Pacific Crest Trail route by 1.01 miles.

The second is the Latopie Lake Loop. Comparing the Latopie Lake Loop with the Pacific Crest Trail's track around Latopie Lake indicates that taking the the Latopie Lake loop is shorter than following Pacific Crest Trail route by nearly 1.2 miles. Though shorter than the PCT route, the advantage of the Latopie Loop is that it brings us first to the beauty of Latopie Lake, then through very desolate terrain to reconnect with the PCT.

The distance from Sonora Pass to the Gap on the Pacific Crest Trail above Kennedy Lake, with no shortcut or Latopie Lake Loop is 4.49 miles.

The distance from Sonora Pass to that same Gap on the Pacific Crest Trail taking both the shortcut and the Latopie Lake Loop is 3.29 miles

Continuing South on the Pacific Crest Trail

mileages are measured from Sonora Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail route

Location  Elevation Mileage
Gap above Kennedy Lake 10,640 4.49    
-40 2.05    
Tungsten Road 10,600 6.54  
 -75 .47    
Horse Trail Junction at top 10,525 7.01    
-845 .96    
Kennedy Canyon Junction 9680 7.97  
Total elevation Gain
Bay to Pass
+ feet
over
8.88 miles

The Kennedy Canyon junction offers us the option of backpacking around the Emigrant Basin on the Pacific Crest Trail or cutting through the Emigrant Basin to enter Yosemite at Bond Pass. Bond Pass lays West of Dorothy Lake Pass. 
See the Kennedy Canyon to Bond Pass Miles and Elevations.
This is a fantastic alternative route to the PCT or TYT, using pieces of each trail, also making the Kennedy Canyon trail junction critical to backpackers planning long loops around the Emigrant Wilderness, as well as the most direct route across the Emigrant Wilderness.

See the Sonora Pass to Bensen Lake 30 minute map.
Also See: North Emigrant Wilderness Backpacking Map.

Location  Elevation Mileage
Camp at Kennedy Creek Ford  9040 9.28    
-440 3.35    
West West Walker Bridge 8600 12.63  
+80 .19    
North Cinco Lake Junction 8680 12.82    
+240 1.81    
South Cinko Lake Junction 8920 14.63    
+100 .72    
Cascade Creek to
West Walker Junction
 
9020 15.35    
+210 .95    
Lake Harriet 9230 16.3    
+250 1.18    
Dorothy Lake  Pass 9480 17.48    
-86 .27    
Dorothy Lake 9394 17.75    
-34 1.2    
North Bond Pass Junction 9360 18.95    
00 .27    
South Bond Pass Junction 9360 19.22    

 

Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
from
Kennedy Meadows

Joins the
Pacific Crest Trail
at the
South Bond Pass Junction

Southbound
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
Miles and Elevations


Location  Elevation Mileage
South Bond Pass Junction  9360 19.22    
-1200 6.47    
North Tilden Lake Junction 8160 25.69    

The Tilden Lake Junction is the Last derivation of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail off of the Pacific Crest Trail route South to Tuolumne Meadows. The Tilden Lake Loop measures 5.36 miles from where it departs Jack Main Canyon and the Pacific Crest Trail South to where it rejoins the PCT for the hike down to Tuolumne Meadows East of Wilmer Lake.

The Pacific Crest Trail route measures 3.55 miles between the Tilden Lake junction in Jack Main Canyon to the Tilden Lake Junction East of Wilmer Lake.

Also see the Sonora Pass to Bensen Lake 30 min map for a big view of this route derivation and the North Yosemite, Jack Main Canyon, and Tilden and Wilmer Lakes Backpacking Map for details.

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Location  Elevation Mileage
North Tilden Lake Junction 8160 25.69    
  +200 1.75    
Wilmer Lake Junction 7960 27.44  
00 .29    
I beam ford at Wilmer Check Dam  7960 27.74    
00  .29    
Camp at far end of Wilmer lake 7960 28.03    
+440 1.21    
The South Tilden Lake trail junction 8400 29.24    

Trail Guide
TYT Tilden Lake Loop
to Pacific Crest Trail in Jack Main Canyon.
Trail Guide
TYT PCT South over Macomb Ridge towards Tuolumne Meadows.

Location  Elevation Mileage
South Tilden Lake trail junction 8400 29.24    
-40 .15    
TillTill Valley Junction II 8360 29.39  
+560 .81    
Gap at the top before Stubblefield 8920 30.2    
-1160 1.89    
Stubblefield ford and camps 7760 32.09    
+960 1.22    
Gap between Stubblefield and Kerrick Canyons 8720 33.31    
-760 1.36    
Kerrick ford and camps 7960 34.67    
+40 .03    
Bear Valley-Pleasant Valley Junction 8000 34.7    
+880 3.77    
Seavy-Buckeye Pass Junction 8880 38.47    
+240 .74    
Entering the Seavy Pass Bowl 9120 39.21    
 -120 1.22    
Exiting Seavy Pass Bowl 9000 40.43    
-1280 1.48    
Bensen Lake Shortcut 7720 41.91    
-120 .29    
Bensen Lake Junction 7600 42.2    
+1800 3.1    
Pleasant & Pate Valley Junction 9400 45.3    
+40 .4    
Rogers Lake to Pate Valley Junction
(Figures do not include the 460 foot drop South TYT from this junction and our subsequent 120 foot climb between Pate junction and West shore of Smedberg.)
9440 45.7    
-221 1    
West Shore of Smedberg Lake 9219 46.7    
+101 .7    
Golden Sand Creek Ford East of Smedberg 9320 47.4    
+440 .8    
High Meadow below Bensen Pass 9760 48.2    
+400 .7    
Bensen Pass 10,160 48.9    
-370 1.4    
1st Wilson Creek Ford 9790 50.3    
-600 .5    
2nd Wilson Creek Ford 9190 50.8    
-270 1    
3rd Wilson Creek Ford 8920 51.8    
-440 1.9    
Matterhorn Ford 8480 53.7    
1 .1    
Junction to Miller Lake 8481 53.8    
+965 2.5    
Miller Lake 9446 56.3    
+114 1.43    
High Point above Spiller Creek 9560 57.73    
-800 1.17    
Spiller Creek Ford & Camp 8760 58.9    
-200 1.3    
Return Creek Ford & Camps 8560 60.2    
 -80 .3    
McCabe Creek  8480 60.5    
+640 .7    
McCabe Lake Junction 9120 61.2    
-440 3.3    
Big Rock 8680 64.5    
00 .2    
Cutting out of the Meadow to Cold Canyon 8680 64.7    
-830 3.5    
Glen Aulin Junction  7850 68.2    
+110 .2    
McGee Lake Junction 7960 68.4    
+200 .3    
Tuolumne Falls 8160 68.7    
+440 .6    
Double Bridge 8600 69.3    
+40 2.5    
Young Lakes Junction 8640 71.8    
-40 .4    
Stables Junction 8600 72.2    
00 .75    
Wilderness Boundary
Parsons Lodge-Soda Springs
8600 72.95    
-25 .17    
Bridge towards Visitor Center 8575 73.12    
+00 00    
Trail Y @ Bridge, toward Store 8575 73.12    
+16 .59    
Tuolumne Store & Post Office 8591 73.71    
Total elevation Gain
Bay to Pass
+ feet
over
8.88 miles

Miles and Elevations Index
Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney
North
PCT Miles and Elevations page

Ebbetts Pass to Sonora Pass

Stanislaus National Forest
Miles Schematic Map
Emigrant Wilderness

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North: Ebbetts Pass to Sonora Pass    TYT Northwest: Bond Pass to Kennedy Meadows   TYT-PCT-JMT South: TM to Muir Ranch

Note: The Ups and Downs of the Pacific Crest Trail between Sonora Pass and Tuolumne Meadows. And every other High Sierra Trail...

This trail guide, like the High Sierras, divides itself into ups and downs. Your miles are generally done either going up to the top of the mountain, or you are coming down from the mountaintop into the valley that separates you from the next mountaintop. This means that the mileages and elevations between the peaks and the valleys is going to be important in determining how many miles you can reasonably expect to cover that day. This will be instrumental in planning where you are going to camp every night, and ultimately this information will determine how many days it will take you to cover a given distance. This in turn establishes your proper food load.

There are 73.8 miles between Sonora Pass and Tuolumne Meadows along the Pacific Crest Trail. The Sonora Pass is 1043 feet higher than the Tuolumne Meadows. But this gross elevation figure does not do justice to the constant ups and downs that virtually all Sierra trails present to their visitors. This segment of the trails between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney is certainly no exception.

The terrain between Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows offers a fine range classic long distance high altitude travel options. From Sonora Pass you cover the great barren mass of the Leavitt Massif. Coming off the South side of Leavitt, you can either follow the Pacific Crest Trail down East, then South through the forests leading back up to granite-bound lakes below Dorothy Lake Pass,  or you can continue hiking South to climb over Big Sam into the pink hued granites of the Emigrant Basin.

Humm. Options-Options.

Both routes lead to the head of Jack Main Canyon in Yosemite's Northwest backcountry. Once they join again below Bond Pass in Jack Main Canyon the Pacific Crest and Tahoe to Yosemite trails will only part for one more short section before tracking together into Tuolumne Meadows. This exception is where the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail loops around Tilden Lake, while the Pacific Crest Trail traces its route around Wilmer Lake. The Trails rejoin again just Southeast above Wilmer Lake.

The terrain between Jack Main Canyon to Tuolumne Meadows is lovingly described as Yosemite's Washboard. The reason for the name comes from the near proximity of high altitude ridge to the next high altitude ridge. When you descend from the top of one 9500 foot ridge you can bounce a rock off the next 9500 foot ridge that you will shortly be climbing. This section contains the closest set of mountain ridges you will be challenged by between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney. There is no long walk between mountain passes within this section. This section will have you climbing and descending at the highest frequency of the whole trip, until you reach Virginia Canyon.

From Virginia Canyon you have one low rise before you begin the long, mostly gentle, drop down to the unique culture and stunning beauty that characterizes all of Yosemite's High Sierra Camps, and especially Glen Aulin.

Remember this important rule: Every descent route holds many mini-ascents, and every ascent has many mini-descents within its route. Your mileage will very rarely just go up, or just go down. You are going endlessly up and down.

 

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Section: SONORA PASS to TUOLUMNE MEADOWS
Segment: SONORA PASS TO TUOLUMNE MEADOWS MILES AND ELEVATIONS

PCT North: Ebbetts Pass to Sonora Pass   TYT Northwest: Bond Pass to Kennedy Meadows   TYT-PCT-JMT South: TM to Muir Ranch

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Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

© Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail