Main Topo MAP Features
Click the Red Dots along marked routes for the related trail guide page and more information about that specific location on the trail. Click the arrow labels pointing to adjacent maps for that map.
Under the Digital Ink
This map of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail features the final and most difficult miles of this section between Lake Alpine and Saint Marys Pass, and the hardest part of the whole Tahoe to Yosemite Trail between Lake Tahoe and Tuolumne Meadows. Once we climb out of the Headwaters Bowl of the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus River and pass through Saint Marys Pass we will finally re-acquire trail on the South side of Saint Marys Pass. The rest of our trail down to Tuolumne Meadows from here is all well maintained. But we aren't there yet...
The map above features the deterioration of the already unmaintained trail along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail South from the Eureka Valley Trail junction through the lower to the Upper ford of the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus River. Though remnants of the trail bed disappear from much of the higher section between the Lower and Upper Fords, there can be light duckage. Blazes stop halfway between the Lower and Upper Fords. South past the Upper Ford the unmaintained trail deteriorates into little more than a potential route through the terrain. Though the trail disappears the terrain around the meadow is gentle compared to the climb up to it between the fords.
Route Vs. Unmaintained Trail
My definition of a route and its difference from an unmaintained trail is potential. A route is a potential way of getting through a stretch of terrain, while an unmaintained trail formalizes a successful route with remnants of its trailbed, old blazes, and mostly new ducks. A route may or may not have these advantages, and they will be incidental (but very helpful) to the primary responsibility of the hiker to self-navigate through the terrain. Routes contain both the potential to fail and to succeed. A route requires that you know how to retreat, to back off and try another variant, and at worse, to admit there is no route, and get out. Routes are potentially dangerous.
Legal Disclaimer Moral Disclaimer
Just South of the lower ford the unmaintained trail degrades into little more than a route for the difficult .66 of a mile climb up to the Northern edge of the Clarks Fork Meadow. From this edge of the Clarks Meadow there is no trail connecting our proposed route South to where we hook up with the trail from the Saint Marys Pass Trailhead.
Options-Options, and More Options
We did not have to come through the brutal upper section of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail through the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus River. We could have gone around by four major detours we passed hiking South through the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. The last one was the very short and not too steep spur trail up Boulder Creek past Boulder Lake and up to the Pacific Crest Trail just North of where Southbound hikers drop down to the East Fork of the Carson River on the way up to Sonora Pass.
Backpacking South from Lake Alpine on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail we can hike up to the Pacific Crest Trail via Highland Creek, Arnot Creek, Disaster Creek, or Boulder Creek to link up with the Pacific Crest Trail.
This series of trails links the roughly parallel, and then converging routes of the Southbound Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trails between Highways 4 and 108. We can see that these trails open up a wide range of loop and trailhead to trailhead backpacking trips that can be hiked out of the trailheads anchoring this web of trails. Exploring the Carson Iceberg Wilderness is fun and rewarding.
Finishing this section at Highway 108 brings up our next trail section along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, the 71.76 mile hike from Kennedy Meadows Pack Station to the end of our trail at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park.
On this next section the TYT again drops thousands of feet of elevation by descending the Western Flank of the Sierra down to Kennedy Meadows only to regain them by climbing back up the Western Flank to the Sierra Crest again, to the top of the stunningly beautiful Emigrant Wilderness. The upcoming section is frkn great.
This means that our TYT route now offsets itself by nine miles West down the Sonora Pass Road to continue its Southbound journey into the beauties of Emigrant Wilderness through the totally delightful Kennedy Meadows Pack Station. I really don't recommend hiking West down Highway 108 to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station. Primarily because this is a narrow winding road among who's Summertime drivers are a significant number of tourists.
I'd hate to have getting run over along a Highway be the ironic end to my High Sierra Backpacking Trip... Ha-ha. I hitch down.
At Kennedy Meadows Pack Station we will also pick up the resupply package we sent to ourself, take a nice long hot shower and wash our clothes, and eat a bunch of good food, all in preparation for the next 70 miles of hiking down to Tuolumne Meadows. I should say up and down to Tuolumne Meadows. There's a roller coaster of High Mountains coming up between us and Tuolumne Meadows. Charge your batteries at Kennedy Meadows.
From the Sonora Pass link on the map above we can review all the information about the trails North and South on both the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trail routes, so click on the Sonora Pass dot on the map to see the maps, miles & elevations information, as well as the trail guide pages to the North and South along both these fine trails.