Colombia Finger. Banner for Tahoe to Whitney High Sierra Trail Guide. Face of Half Dome.
Mounts Lyell and Florence from John Muir Trail near Sunrise.
Colombia Finger
Mount Florence far Right. Mount Lyell "peaking out" second from Left.
Face of Half Dome.

 

The Trails

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Gettin Started
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Gear Reviews

 

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Trail Segment
Sunrise High Sierra Camp
to
Little Yosemite Valley

 

Trail Section
Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley

 

BACKPACKING
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

 

Section Hiking
The John Muir Trail
South
to
Happy Isle

 

 

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The art of walking

 

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Trail Guide
INDEX

Tuolumne Meadows
to
Yosemite
Valley
Trail Guide
NORTH

Cathedral
Lakes

to
Sunrise
High
Sierra
Camp
Trail Guide
SOUTH

Little
Yosemite
Valley

to
BIG
Yosemite
Valley

Trail Guide
EAST


Little
Yosemite
Valley
to
Merced
Lake

7.5 Topo
Map

Yosemite Valley
&
Central Yosemite

30 min
Map

Tuolumne
Meadows
to
Yosemite
Valley

MILES
Tuolumne Meadows

to
Yosemite Valley

MILES
and
ELEVATIONS
TOPO
MAP INDEX

Central
Yosemite

Resupply

North

Tuolumne
Meadows

South
Yosemite
Valley

PERMITS
National
Forests
&
Parks

Toiyabe
&
Stanislaus
&
Yosemite

Sierra
Weather

North
Yosemite
Weather


Sunrise
High Sierra Camp
to
Little Yosemite Valley
Backpacker's Camp
This Page

Trail
Section
John Muir Trail


backpacking
Tuolumne Meadows
to
John Muir Trailhead
Happy Isles

21.8 miles

Trail
Segment
John Muir Trail

backpacking
Sunrise High Sierra Camp
to
Little Yosemite Valley

8.72 miles


To the Merced River
Our 3.35 mile descent to the location of Sunrise High Sierra Camp since crossing Cathedral Pass into the Watershed of the Merced River has been fairly gentle, so far. These next 9.32 miles below Sunrise High Sierra Camp down to Little Yosemite Valley descend steep segments of the John Muir Trail.

But we are not yet done climbing. Hiking South from the bottom of Long Meadow begins with a 360 foot climb over the next mile and a half of a gently climbing traverse along the forested East flank of the Sunrise Mountains. This segment of our hike positions us for the descent into Merced Canyon via Sunrise Creek.

Our climbing traverse South from Long Meadow ends by putting us above the steep slash in the mountainside where Sunrise Creek is born, and begins its run down to the Merced River. We drop in to join it, beginning the steeper parts of our descent down to Yosemite Valley in earnest.

Map and Miles
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map to Detailed Maps Map to All Guide Pages
Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map
South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

 

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

Backpacker Resources
and
Hiker Information

Though this Looking Glass

John Muir Trail Backpacking
Information

This
Page Index
top

Video
Sunrise High Sierra Camp
to
Little Yosemite Valley

 

Miles Sign
Sunrise
High Sierra Camp

Trail Junction

 

 

View
Cathedral Pass

 

 

South JMT

 

 

Panoramic Views

 

 

Moderate Climb

 

 

Highest Meadow

 

 

Descend
Into Sunrise Creek Gully

 

 

First View Merced Canyon

 

 

Mount Clark

 

 

Campsites
Upper Ford
Sunrise Creek

 

 

To the Rim of the
Merced Canyon

 

 

First View Half Dome

 

 

Bunnell Point, Cascade Cliffs, and Mount Starr King frame Merced River Canyon

Central
Yosemite Wilderness

Weather and Road Information

Below find the closest Ground Stations, Point and Regional Forecasts near Tuolumne Meadows.

Satellite and Radar Imagery provides Long Range and Regional overviews.

Check out the Ground Reporting Stations for real-time current snow and temp data.

Yosemite Weather Forecast

NWS
REGIONAL FORECAST
Yosemite to Kings Canyon Forecast

NWS
STATION REPORT
Tuolumne
Meadows

Regional Forecasts

NWS
REGIONAL FORECAST
East Sierra

NWS
REGIONAL FORECAST
Northwest Sierra

Emigrant Wilderness
&
North Yosemite

Regional Weather Information
All
High Sierra Weather
Resources
Real Time
Ground Reporting Stations

North of Yosemite
Hwy 108 Corridor

Sonora Pass reporting station

Leavitt Lake reporting station

Leavitt Meadow reporting station

Horse Meadow Reporting Station

Around our Position

Tenaya Lake

Tuolumne Meadows

Tioga Entry Station

Northeast

Slide Mountain

All Ground Reporting Stations

MesoWest
N Calif Stations

Calif Snotel

Note that the ground reporting stations above are North and East of our position backpacking across Central Yosemite Wilderness.

The reason is that there are no automated reporting stations in the North Yosemite Backcountry or the Central Wilderness.

These reporting stations are given to ascertain snow conditions and temps at various altitudes and aspects of exposure.

That will help figure out the conditions in terrain with similar terrain.

Human Measured Stations

Wilma Lake

Road Conditions

Caltrans Hwy 108

Caltrans Hwy 120

Big View
Radar

North
California Radar

Big View
Space

Western
US Satellite

All
High Sierra Weather
Resources

 

High Sierra
Fire and Smoke
Information

Deer-straction

 

 

Great Spur

 

 

Miles Sign
Forsyth Trail
Trail Junction

 

 

Miles Sign
Merced
&
Washburn Lakes
Trail Junction

 

 

Campsites and Mileage Issues

 

Campsites
Lower Ford
Sunrise Creek

 

 

Crow Time

 

 

Down to Clouds Rest
Trail Junction

 

 

Miles Sign
Clouds Rest
Trail Junction

 

 

Miles Sign
Half Dome
Trail Junction

 

 

Miles Sign
Little Yosemite Valley
Trail Junction

> Forum <
Backpacking Trails and Topics Forums

Lakg the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.

Comments


Transitions
Sunrise High Sierra Camp
Trail Junction

 

The John Muir Trail
Sunrise High Sierra Camp Trail Junction

 

Descending
into
The Heart of Yosemite

9520 feet

8.44 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows

13.36 miles North of Yosemite Valley

 

 

The John Muir Trail
Sunrise High Sierra Camp Trail Junction
to
Little Yosemite Valley
9.32 miles

 

 

Maps and Miles

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
All Guide Pages
Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map
South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

 

Miles

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

top of page

VIDEO

Sunrise High Sierra Camp to Little Yosemite Valley.


Sunrise High Sierra Camp
Trail Junction

SOUTHWEST
to
Little Yosemite Valley
Miles post at Sunrise citing 13.2 miles to Yosemite Valley.

Miles post at Sunrise Southbound trail junction pointing us South by Southwest to Yosemite Valley citing 13.2 miles to The Valley.

Tuolumne Meadows
to
Yosemite Valley
Sunrise HSC to Little Yosemite Valley
MILES and ELEVATIONS
A "Must" Read
About
Miles and Elevations
in the
High Sierra

 

trail forum comments
Page Index

WEST
to
Clouds Rest or Tenaya Lake
Sunrise High Sierra Camp to Tenaya and May Lakes or Clouds Rest.

Sunrise High Sierra Camp Northwest to trail junction beyond Sunrise Lakes.

Trails track Northwest to Tenaya and May Lakes or Southwest to Clouds Rest from Sunrise Lakes.

trail forum comments
Page Index

NORTH
to
Tuolumne Meadows
Sunrise trail junction South towards Yosemite Valley.

This is in the conventional direction of traditional John Muir hikers.

The route to Merced Lake is turning East near the top of this Long Meadow to climb a low ridge to the East to drop down into the canyon at the base of the East Flank of Sunrise Mountain where the Cathedral Fork of Echo Creek flows down into the Merced River at Echo Valley.

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

 


Last Look at Sunrise High Sierra Camp
Sunrise from trail junction.

Sunrise from trail junction.

trail forum comments
Page Index

Long Meadow
Stock Prohibitions
Sign about grazing prohibition in Long Meadow below Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

Sign about grazing prohibition in Long Meadow below Sunrise High Sierra Camp at the South edge of the meadow where the trail comes up from Yosemite Valley.

We can see Colombia Finger and Matthes Crest in the distance, with the low arc of Cathedral Pass running a line between them. Well, between Tresidder Peak and Matthes Crest.

Let's take a closer look.


North
West End of the Cathedral Range
Last Look at the Cathedral Range before dropping South out of the South end of Long Meadow.

Last Look at the Cathedral Range before dropping South out of the South end of Long Meadow.

Colombia Finger on far-Left of high crest, Tresidder Pak is the tallest to its Right, Matthes Crest is the line of rock along the Right side of the high crest. Cathedral Pass located between Tresidder and Matthes.

We passed under the nose of Colombia's Finger to drop into the top of this Long Meadow, to follow it down to our present position at the South End of Long Meadow.

We turn around to hike South into a short gentle climb before descending forest terrain.

trail forum comments
Page Index

Cathedral Pass Detail
Colombia Finger, Tresidder Peak, Cathedral Pass, top of Echo Peaks, and Matthes Crest.
Cathedral Pass from end of Long Meadow near Sunrise High Sierra Camp.
View from the South end of Long Meadow.
Features to the East and West of the Southern Flank of Cathedral Pass.

Trail South out of Long Meadow
Trail South down from Sunrise High Sierra Camp perched above the bottom of Long Meadow.

Trail South down from Sunrise High Sierra Camp perched above the bottom of Long Meadow.

The granite mound above the trail passes is plainly apparent on our map.

trail forum comments
Page Index

JMT hiking South of Sunrise
Hiking the John Muir Trail South out of Sunrise High Sierra Camp.
Hiking the John Muir Trail South out of Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

Grouse
Grouse and I check each other out.

Grouse and I check each other out.

I see them first most times, so I gently click at them, which prevents them from pulling their "escape maneuver," which is to burst into a short bit of frenzied flight. Their preferred outcome is to rely on their cammo to avoid detection in the first place.

When they know they are seen grouse seem to choose either rushing their perceived attacker directly, seemingly figuring that flying at them will shock the attacker long enough to enhance grouse's chances of escape, or grouse chooses a direction of flight away from the threat, preferably into/through a thicket, to hinder pursuit.

Both avenues of retreat a grouse considers at the moment of escape both include hindering pursuit. One is towards the jaws of doom, the other away.

Once my observation skills matured I stopped having "heart stopping" incidents when an unseen grouse would pop out of the underbrush and fly by my face in frenzied flight. Improving our observation skills helps keep everyone from wasting energy and experiencing unnecessary stress.

If we see them first and click at them properly we just observe each other for awhile.

Birds are both very "flighty" and very curious. We've got to get past the former character element to explore the latter.

The Living Things Policy

trail forum comments
Page Index

View
A bit East of North
View North at West end of Cathedral Range before descending into Sunrise Creek.

View North at West end of Cathedral Range before descending into Sunrise Creek.

Colombia Finger is the projecting spire on the far Left.

The highest peak behind Colombia Finger is Tresidder Peak, the low gap to its Right constitutes Cathedral Pass.

To the Right of Cathedral Pass rises the Matthes Crest .


View
A bit more East of North
Matthes Crest on Cathedral Range.
Matthes Crest on the Left, Peak 11105 is the highest peak in the center, and Rafferty Peak is the highest peak on the far Right.
trail forum comments
Page Index

View
East-Slightly Southeast
Vogelsang Peak
Vogelsang Peak in Yosemite.

Vogelsang Peak is centered in the image.

The dark low peak on the further Left is Fletcher Peak. The light-colored rounded peak towering up behind and to the Right of Fletcher Peak is Peak 11850.


View
Southeast
Peak 10681 on the Left---Florence Peak to the Right
Peak 10681 to the Left, Mount Florence to the Right.
Peak 10681 on the furthest Left, Mount Florence the peak on the furthest Right.
trail forum comments
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Closer Look at Mount Florence
Lyell in furthest distance on Left, Mount Florence on the Right.

Mount Lyell in furthest distance on Left, Mount Florence on Right.

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 


Continuing our Moderate Climb
Still Climbing hiking South of Sunrise on the John Muir Trail.

Still Climbing hiking South of Sunrise on the John Muir Trail.

I means South by compass.

trail forum comments
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Crossing Interesting Surfaces
Still climbing across compressed trail surface.
Nicely compressed sandy wash. Some minerals break down rapidly, then are spread by rain and compressed by snow into interesting surfaces.

High Point Meadow
Meadow above Sunrise Creek in Yosemite Wilderness along the John Muir Trail.

Our trail crests along the edge of this high meadow wedged in along the upper flank of Sunrise Mountain below its Southern Crest.

This meadow marks our final approach to the high point of the John Muir Trail between Sunrise High Sierra Camp and Little Yosemite Valley.

We make a gentle climb into the upper throat of Sunrise Creek after following the JMT around the crescent-shaped perimeter of this small meadow.

trail forum comments
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Last Steps to top of Sunrise Creek
Last steps to highest point of JMT above Sunrise Creek
Last steps to highest point of JMT above Sunrise Creek

Boulders and decending forest at the top of Sunrise Creek.
A sweet garden of beautiful boulders under perfect shading mark the beginning of descending forest at the top of the drainage of Sunrise Creek.
trail forum comments
Page Index

Transitions

Descending
into
The Heart of Yosemite

Sunrise Creek down to the Rim of the Merced Canyon

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Turning Down
Views South
Dropping into Sunrise Creek gives first views of Canyon of the Merced River.

Dropping into Sunrise Creek gives first views of Canyon of the Merced River.

 

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

 

trail forum comments
Page Index

Joe, Kelly, and Mary
Joe, Kelly, and Mary hiking the Muir Trail below Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

Joe Kelly and Mary near the resumption of their steep climb up Sunrise Creek above the Forsyth Trail Junction.

Kelly and Mary are hiking the whole John Muir Trail while Joe is hiking to the next resupply at Tuolumne Meadows.

trail forum comments
Page Index

Bunnell Point
First view of grand granite of Merced Canyon.
First view of grand granite of Merced Canyon.

Bunnell Point and Cascade Cliffs
Bunnell Point and Cascade Cliffs from the John Muir Trail.
Bunnell Point and Cascade Cliffs.
trail forum comments
Page Index

Mount Clark
Mount Clark marking the edge of the Clarks Range in the South Yosemite Wilderness.
Mount Clark marking the edge of the Clarks Range in the South Yosemite Wilderness.

Campsites

The John Muir Trail

Sunrise Creek Upper Ford
and
Campsites

 

Descending
into
The Heart of Yosemite

 

8550 feet

11.16 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows

10.64 miles North of Yosemite Valley

 

to
Little Yosemite Valley
6.6 miles

 

 

Maps and Miles

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
All Guide Pages
Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map
South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

 

Miles

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

top of page


Upper Sunrise Creek Ford
The uppermost ford of Sunrise Creek below Sunrise High Sierra Camp.
The uppermost ford of Sunrise Creek below Sunrise High Sierra Camp.
trail forum comments
Page Index

Expansive Campsite at the Upper Ford
Sunrise Creek upper ford campsites.

Sunrise Creek upper ford campsites.

Woke up here one morning in 2012 with no one camping here but I.

Well, that's what I thought. Then I began, and kept hearing large branches snapping, about 60 yards above the campsites, up in the the heavily forested gorge of the Upper Sunrise Creek. I quickly figured out what was making the sounds, as there are few things so big that snap big branches on and off the trees.

I was listening to something snapping big branches like toothpicks. Something big and fairly articulate.

I estimated, judging by the sounds of things breaking, that a large bear was prowling about. It might be breaking branches to reveal insects.
I also figured that Bear had already looked me and my site over before beginning to make lots of noises and making its position known. Bear saw my bear canister, which told Bear there was no point in paying me a visit. Nothing to gain but pain.

I kind of wish Bear did visit, but I did not miss this Bear encounter enough to induce me to hike up the drainage to find a position where I could get an eye on the Bear up there. I did think about moving up to a potential position of observation, but decided that prudence was the best course of action.

It was good enough to know Bear was up there.

Bear Tech


Transitions

Descending
into
The Heart of Yosemite

On down and then out to the Rim of the Merced Canyon.

Our steep descent along the course of Sunrise Creek flattens into a mountain highway.

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South below the Upper Sunrise Creek Ford
South below Upper Sunrise Creek Ford.
Hiking South, down-mountain from the Upper Sunrise Creek Ford.
trail forum comments
Page Index

To the Rim of the Merced
To the rim of the Merced Canyon on the John Muir Trail.
Our trail down flattens out and moves South away from Sunrise Creek to the edge of the rim of the canyon of the Merced River.

First Look at Half Dome descending the JMT
First look at Half Dome descending the John Muir Trail below Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

Our first look at Half Dome happens as we descend far enough that the terrain unmasks its position down the mountain below.

trail forum comments
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Final Steps to the Rim of the Merced River Canyon
Final steps up to the rim of the Merced River Canyon along the John Muir Trail.

Our down-mountain trail approaches the rim of the Merced, then bends to our West about 25 yards short of reaching the rim.

Our Southbound then JMT parallels the canyon rim along a wide"shelf" of moderately-forested terrain for a couple of hundred yards, down to where the shelf is pinched-off by narrowing and steepening terrain.

This "boulevard" style of terrain terminates just above where we reacquire the course of Sunrise Creek.

In the image above we are continuing South off the route of the JMT where it bends to our Right at the bottom of the steep descent from the upper Sunrise Ford, veering up off the trail by a few yards to take a look at the view from the rim of the Merced Canyon.


The Merced River Canyon
Bunnell Point in foreground, Mount Starr King in distant background
Bunnell Point with Mount Starr King beyond.
Bunnell Point bisected by morning light and last of the evening shadow along the East Rim of the Merced River Canyon from our nice overlook.
trail forum comments
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Starr King beyond the Merced
A closer look at Mount Starr King in the distance beyond the stunning prominence in the foreground.
A closer look at Mount Starr King in the distance beyond the stunning prominence in the foreground. This vast granite foreground protrusion pinches the course of the Merced River opposite Bunnell Point.

Bunnell Point's Cross-River Neighbor
Top of the mighty dome pinching the course of the Merced opposite Bunnell Point.
Top of the mighty dome pinching the course of the Merced opposite Bunnell Point.
trail forum comments
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Half Dome below spur of Clouds Rest
Half Dome below shoulder off Clouds Rest Massif.

Half Dome below shoulder off Clouds Rest Massif rising to our Northwest.

Half Dome towers above the Northwestern aspect of our upcoming campsite in Little Yosemite Valley, which gives us an idea that our current horizontal and vertical distances to the end our our day's trail in Little Yos Valley are almost equal.

 

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 


Quiet Moment
Half Dome in tenative morning light.
Half Dome in tentative morning light.
trail forum comments
Page Index

Deerstraction
Along our Wide Track
I make me known to deer along John Muir Trail in Yosemite.

As I was watching the terrain I noticed that a couple of families of deer, a couple of Does with a bunch of Fawns were "grazing up" this wide, flat track towards my position.

Two of Nature's Mobile Lawn Mowing Teams.

A couple of Deer moms meeting with the kids for a quick graze.

It is Yosemite, and every animal here knows that people will not mess with then, so I figured that the deer and I could easily pass each other on this wide segment of terrain without problems, once we all determined that none of us were a threat to each other's goals.

So I made my position known, and made a few friendly clicks.

Ears popped up, which was my cue to shoot them.

Notice that mom is like, "screw it, I'm eating."


Everything's Cool

A fairly calm scene. Deer generally will walk away, even if they do not feel threatened. These kept their line towards me, even though it crossed mine closely.

I was being especially sweet.

These ladies were willing to maintain their original intention, to graze up this section of terrain, if I did not do anything stupid. That was the mom's obvious decision.

trail forum comments
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Passing in Review
The deer and I pass each other by.

I move to the lower section while the last of the deer move to the upper.

Mom encouraged the Fawns into a brief trot as we passed each other in review, but Fawns were more curious than scared. Mom had the "don't talk to strangers" attitude going, and there are no stranger strangers than humans.


The full Spur above Half Dome
The full spur of Clouds Rest Masif rising to our Southwest.
The full spur of a ridge running off the Clouds Rest Massif rising to our Southwest.
trail forum comments
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Terrain Narrows, Descent Steepens
descending to Forsyth Trail on the JMT in Yosemite.

The wide, gently descending "boulevard" with its expansive views is tapering down to a narrow trail-track, our descent is increasing, and we are entering a densely forested zone of quiet.

The forest is noticeably thickening as we descend.

Jefferies have about totally replaced the lodgepoles down here.


Hiking Higher and Higher
Amber and Steve hiking up towards Tuolumne Meadows.

Amber and Steve hiking above the Clouds Rest junction out of Yosemite Valley.

They noted the climb out of The Valley is a high degree of sustained difficulty, rating it a seven out of ten on the hardness scale.

I believe they were hiking to Agnew Meadow.

trail forum comments
Page Index

The Spur from Below
The sheer face of the Clouds Rest Spur.

The sheer face of the Clouds Rest Spur as we pass under it, just above the Forsyth Trail junction.

The image of the spur above, and the second image above that, are both of the same scene, only our perspective has slightly changed from approach to passing under.

trail forum comments
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The Forest is full of Surprises
A sweet spiring granite dome decorating the base of the spur.

We constantly see beautiful things poking up through the forests here.

A sweet spire of granite decorating the base of the spur.


Forsyth Trail Junction
along the
John Muir Trail

 

Descending
into the
Heart of Yosemite

 

8000 feet

12.89 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows

8.91 miles North of Yosemite Valley

to
Little Yosemite Valley
4.87 miles

 

 

Maps and Miles

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
All Guide Pages
Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map
South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

 

Miles

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

The Forsyth Trail to Tenaya Lake & Sunrise Lake.

The Forsyth Trail tracks almost directly North from this junction, while we maintain our Southwestern direction along the descending John Muir Trail.

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Forsyth Trail junction along the John Muir Trail.

Forsyth Trail junction along the John Muir Trail.

This trail tracks almost directly North. It offers a Northern approach to Clouds Rest, as well as access to Sunrise Lakes on the way up to Tenaya Lake.

trail forum comments
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John Muir Trail
to
Tuolumne Meadows
Sunrise trail junction with the Forsyth Trail.
Up the mountain the way we came down.

John Muir Trail
to
Yosemite Valley
John Muir Trail South from Forsyth Trail junction.
Continuing Down the John Muir Trail from the Forsyth Trail junction.
trail forum comments
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Forsyth Trail Junction
Hiking Down the JMT
to the
Merced and Washburn Lakes Junction

I figure about 200 yards separates the Forsyth Trail junction from the Merced Lake Junction. The signs read the distance as a tenth of a mile.

Descending
into
Heart of Yosemite's
Local Route Options

The Merced and Washburn Lakes Trail continues East on a fairly flat route following the North Rim of the Merced River Canyon until it reaches Echo Creek. At Echo Creek the trail makes a steep, switch-backing descent into Echo Valley on the floor of the Merced River Canyon locating us just below Merced Lake.

Local Backpacking Loops
Merced Lake could be the furthest destination of a backpacking trip out of Yosemite Valley. We'd take the long way climbing to Merced Lake via the John Muir Trail to this Merced-Washburn Lakes junction.
After hiking the JMT-Merced-Washburn route to Merced Lake (and Washburn?) we'd return by hiking straight down the Merced River Canyon. Hiking up to Washburn would be the first, and easiest way to extend the length of this particular loop.

Extended Loop
We could extend this "Valley to Merced Lake" loop even further. A longer variation of this loop could be run by hiking the John Muir Trail past this Merced-Washburn junction, hiking the JMT all the way to the trail junction in Upper Long Meadow above Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

From that junction we then hike East into the uppermost segment of Echo Creek for the hike down to Echo Valley, and then up to Merced Lake, and possibly Washburn Lake, too.

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Merced-Washburn Lakes
Trail Junction
The John Muir Trail junction to Merced and Washburn Lakes below Forsyth Trail and above Clouds Rest junction.
The John Muir Trail junction to Merced and Washburn Lakes below Forsyth Trail and above Clouds Rest junction.
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East to Merced and Washburn Lakes
Trail East to Merced Lake off the John Muir Trail.
Trail East up the North Rim of the Merced River Canyon towards Merced and Washburn Lakes.

JMT
Up Mountain
Miles sign at Merced Lake JMT junction to Tuolumne Meadows.
Up the John Muir Trail to Tuolumne Meadows.
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JMT
Down Mountain
Miles sign down to Yosemite Valley from Merced Lake trail junction.
Down the John Muir Trail to Yosemite Valley.

Campsites
&
Mileage Issues

Descending
JMT
Below
Merced-Washburn Junction
to
Clouds Rest Junction

The lower Sunrise Ford & Campsites are a bit over halfway from the Merced Lake junction to the Clouds Rest junction. I put the distance at about 1.3 miles.

Mileage Anomaly
I measure 2.08 miles of trail between the Merced Lake trail junction down to the Clouds Rest trail junction, rather than the .9 of a mile distance indicated by the differences in the totals on the sequential Yosemite miles signs at the respective junctions.

The Yosemite signs are very wrong between the Merced Lake and Clouds Rest trail junctions. To be expected. They were cut in the early 1950s. The trails have been cut and recut many times since then.

WE take all old trail signs with a bit of healthy skepticism in an ever-changing world.

I suspect this mileage variation is due to a major re-routing along the length of this segment of trail. Close inspection of the old route depicts it following Sunrise Creek much more closely, very different than the present route where it turns away from Sunrise Creek below the Merced Lake trail junction.

Old Route New Route

Reviewing the maps clearly shows where the trail was turned South away from Sunrise Creek onto a less-steep, much less direct route down to Clouds Rest junction.

Thus this segment is 1.18 miles longer than the .9 of a mile specified on the Yosemite Trail Signs, totaling out at 2.08 miles between the Merced Lake and Clouds Rest junctions.

Two Campsite Locations
WE find two sets of campsites hiking South down from the Merced Lake trail junction to the Clouds Rest junction. We reacquire Sunrise Creek below the Merced Lake trail junction just about a quarter-mile above the lower ford. At the lower ford there are a set of campsites on the upper bank of this, our second, last, and lowest of our two Sunrise Creek fords below Sunrise High Sierra Camp. Both are associated with campsites.

Bonus Sites
Just about thirty yards after crossing the lower ford, after a short climb up to where the trail bends South, we can see off to our Left, East, there are also some nice, more private sites stashed up here on the rise below the ford. These sites are quieter and more private than the group-style sites above the lower ford.

Second Set of Sites
The next set of campsites below these sites at the lower ford are located at the edge of the meadowed-confluence of a substantial little feeder creek running into Sunrise Creek just a few yards before reaching the Clouds Rest trail junction.

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Down to Clouds Rest
Forest below Merced Lake trail junction.
Forest below Merced Lake trail junction.

Trail Sign for Bears
Bear slashed tree.
Bear slashed tree.
trail forum comments
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Lowest Ford of Sunrise Creek
Lower Sunrise Creek ford along the John Muir Trail in Yosemite.

Lower Sunrise Creek ford

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 


Flat around Lower Sunrise Ford
Expansive flat around Lower Sunrise Creek ford for camping.
Expansive flats, nice forest cover, tranquil surroundings.
trail forum comments
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Campsites above Lower Ford
Campsites above lower Sunrise Creek ford backpacking the John Muir Trail in Yosemite.
Campsites above ford.

Campsite below Lower Ford
Campsite just below lower Sunrise Creek ford.

Campsite just below lower Sunrise Creek ford.

Got water, got the boots off, time to get cooking.

I don't make fires, so the wood here, stays here.

 

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

 

trail forum comments
Page Index

Site Neighbors
Crows along Sunrise Creek, Yosemite.

These old crows were having a time.

My camp was set up on the rise above their position.

They flew down onto a flat sandy shoulder of terrain with few trees below, and fair views around, for the density of the surrounding forest. There was an objective to their visit.


One Looks Up, the Other, Down
Crows along John Muir Trail in Yosemite.

They showed signs of being a team, each watching and working in turn.

I figure they were targeting some dense populations of insects. It seemed like they had a plan, had done it before, and being here working the bugs was a regular part of their schedule.


The Local Scene
Crows working for insects in the mountains of Yosemite Wilderness.

The Crows seemed as intent on relaxing and enjoying the moment and interacting with each other as they were on getting bugs, maybe more. Their own presence and personalities were clearly more important to them than eating bugs, they were clearly defining their tasks within the frameworks of their observations and interactions in what appeared to be a measured way.

It was Crow Time.

I found it quite relaxing watching the Crows interacting and watching the forest for threats as they picked off whatever bugs had drawn them there.

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Deer Here
A fawn grazes past camp at lower Sunrise Creek ford, Yosemite.

Lots of deer.

Like Crows, Deer too was splitting attention between finding sources of nourishment and avoiding becoming nourishment. That goal, not becoming food, is why deer's ears are on a swivel.

Deer depend on their auditory early warning system, their ears on a swivel, to give their race-horse legs the signal to go. Deer survival depends on clear perception and instant speed.


Hiking South to
Clouds Rest Trail Junction

Descending
into the
Heart of Yosemite

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

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Great Root
Great exposed root along John Muir Trail.

I figure we've got about 3/4ths of a mile of hiking South down the JMT from the lower ford campsites to the Clouds Rest trail junction.

This great root surfaced when its tree fell, transforming from one type of landmark into another along our route.

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Dense Forests
Well-grooved John Muir Trail above the Clouds Rest trail junction.

Well-grooved John Muir Trail above the Clouds Rest trail junction.

We've transitioned from thin forests of whitebark and lodgepole into white pine and fir and down into jeffery pine forests.

The Yosemite site speaks of zones of trees, while other references describe different depths of study, from basic tree identification to understanding each strand in the web of life in the mountains.

Tree References
Trees of Yosemite Trees of Lake Tahoe

All Living Things
All Bio Refs Living Things Forum

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Trail Below the Lower Ford
Yosemite Wilderness along the John Muir Trail.
Quick trail surface for a soft spot in the terrain. The period of drought has allowed lots of terrain moving and moved by ground water to consolidate.

Wow
First close view of Half Dome approaching the Clouds Rest trail junction.

First view of Half Dome.

Wow. It just keeps getting bigger and growing taller as we get closer.

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Unique Textures and Colors
Unique texture and color on Yosemite granite.
Morning light reveals sweet texture and color once we get below the glare.

Approaching Clouds Rest Trail Junction
Approaching little creek above Clouds Rest trail junction.
Approaching the little creek feeding Sunrise Creek just above the Clouds Rest trail junction.
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Meadow above Clouds Rest Trail Junction
Meadow near Clouds Rest trail junction.
An expansive meadow precedes the Clouds Rest trail junction. The trail cutting across the meadow leads to campsites and the Clouds Rest Trail junction, while staying on the trail leads us around the meadow to the Clouds Rest trail junction.

Approaching the Clouds Rest Junction on the JMT
Nearing the Clouds Rest trail junction.
Last steps to Clouds Rest trail junction.
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Clouds Rest Trail Junction
along the

John Muir Trail

Descending
into the
Heart of Yosemite

 

7220 feet

15.83 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows

5.79 miles North of Yosemite Valley

to
Little Yosemite Valley
1.93 miles

 

 

Maps and Miles

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
All Guide Pages
Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map
South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

 

Miles

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

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JMT
UP
Clouds Rest trail junction miles to Tuolumne Meadows.
Clouds Rest trail junction miles up the John Muir Trail to Tuolumne Meadows.
trail forum comments
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JMT
DOWN
Miles from Clouds Rest junction on the JMT to Half Dome and Nevada Falls.
Clouds Rest trail junction miles down the John Muir Trail to Half Dome and down to Nevada Falls

NORTH
CLOUDS REST
Miles to Clouds Rest from the JMT junction and on to Tenaya Lake.
Miles North off the John Muir Trail climbing North to Clouds Rest and Tenaya Lake beyond.
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Camping at the Junction
Backpackers camp at Clouds Rest junction on the John Muir Trail.

Noticing some stirring about sixty yards off the junction: some campers.

I suspect they were inspecting Half Dome in the late morning light.


Hiking South to
Half Dome Trail Junction
A Half Mile Descent

Half Dome Trail Junction

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Under the Rock
In shadow of Half Dome.

In shadow of Half Dome.

Nose and Saddle.

trail forum comments
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Half Dome from John Muir Trail.

One of the delights of our type of travel is a close examination of various terrain features as we approach one side, pass over, through or around it, then inspect it from the other side as we depart.

This gives us an engaged perspective, at least.

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
Trail Guide Pages

Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Map

South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

Click the Red Dots

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 


Backside of Liberty Cap
Back of Liberty Cap while descending to Little Yosemite Valley.
Our view of the backside of Liberty Cap locates Nevada Falls in relation to our position. Nevada Falls sit at the base of the Left side of Liberty Cap.
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Terrain Challenge Shift
Climate Shift
Dense manzanita as we descend to the Half Dome trail junction along the John Muir Trail.

Nothing tells us of the climate change with changing elevation than manzanita.

Though Yosemite's trails are clear, manzanita in the more remote parts of the Sierra marks the transition from the difficulties of sub-alpine travel to the difficulties of breaking through manzanita.

With the manzanita also comes the heat, warning us of another transitioning challenge. This challenge is the opposite of our first struggles with acclimation, now we are transitioning from an environment of cool, thin air and high elevation exertion to dealing with the potential for serious high temp overheating issues.

Heat Safety Chart
on
High Sierra Weather Page


Half Dome Trail Junction
along the

John Muir Trail

Descending
into the
Heart of Yosemite

 

7020 feet

16.35 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows

5.45 miles North of Yosemite Valley

 

to
Little Yosemite Valley
1.41 miles

 

 

Maps and Miles

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
All Guide Pages
Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map
South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

 

Miles

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

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JMT
Half Dome Trail Junction
UP JMT
Half Dome trail junction miles sign on the John Muir Trail.
Northbound John Muir Trail sign at the Half Dome trail junction.
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UP
HALF DOME
Half Dome trail junction in Yosemite.
NORTHWEST

Two Miles to the top of Half Dome.

Dudes on the Dome
kelly and matt climbing half dome.

We see and meet a wide variety of folks hiking up to do the dome.

Families, youths, students, dude and chick groups, circles of friends, solo adventurers, and so on.

Kelly and Matt are a couple of buddies engaged. Engaged in doing things of merit, making them stronger while expanding their perspective and experiences.

Other folks engage for some form of social validity, rather than the value of the experience itself. I find those hikers kind-of irritating while being somewhat entertaining.

Most folks, like Kelly and Matt, are real good folks, a joy to meet, and great sources of information.

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Hiking South to
Little Yosemite Valley

I have it as 1.3 miles from the Half Dome trail junction to the solar bathrooms in Little Yosemite Valley.

Last Stop before Yosemite Valley

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Trail Conditions
CHANGE
The trail widens and the sand deepens below the Half Dome trail junction.

Huge Trail
The trail widens and the sand deepens below the Half Dome trail junction.

The character of the already heavily used trail changes below the Half Dome trail junction. The tread widens, and the surface shows all the signs of the very heavy traffic up the corridor of the John Muir Trail from Happy Isles Trailhead to Half Dome and back.

But not in the sense of degraded wear, but a level of maintenance performed to maintain certain standards not applied to less used trails.

This status indicates the application of lots of trail crew love. I takes lots of work to absorb high levels of hiker traffic without excessive surface degradation.

We'll see the remnants of the paved path from Happy Isles up to Nevada Falls as we continue hiking down into the Heart of Yosemite Valley.

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Plush Trail
Very well trod trail from Little Yosemite Valley to the Half Dome junction on the John Muir Trail.

Very well trod trail between Little Yosemite Valley and the Half Dome trail junction along the John Muir Trail.

The status of the trail almost looks like we are entering a manicured, curated bit of Nature. All indications are of a very high traffic zone.

Half curated by Barnum & Bailey, as a three-ring circus, and the other half managed by Mother Nature Itself.

It was be a crazy contradiction, if we were not crazy.

It's just normal.


Glimpse of Cascade Cliffs
Cascade Cliffs from below Half Dome trail Junction.

Fat view up Merced Canyon at Cascade Cliffs as we descend to a point just above Little Yosemite Valley.

Our John Muir Trail route below us in Little Yosemite Valley intersects with the trail running up the bottom of the Merced Canyon to Merced Lake where we walk up to the North Bank of the Merced River.

We will follow that trail up the Merced River hiking back out of The Valley on our way to rejoin the Southbound JMT in Lyell Canyon.

Check out our view looking down on these Cascade Cliffs from high up along Sunrise Creek, above.

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Hummm...
Deer above Little Yosemite.
An old veteran at dealing with hikers and backpackers.

The Half Dome Trail Sign
Yosemite National Park Half Dome Permit Sign.

Yosemite National Park Half Dome Permit Sign.

You can follow these along the trail to Half Dome.

This one sits where the John Muir Trail climbs out of Little Yosemite Valley.

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Little Yosemite Valley
Entering Little Yosemite Valley along the John Muir Trail hiking down from Tuolumne Meadows.

Entering Little Yosemite Valley.

We are confronted with a Y trail junction dropping into this corner of Little Yosemite Valley.

The actual John Muir Trail veers to our Left, to pass by the Little Yosemite Valley Backpackers Camp and associated solar toilets as we hike South across the narrow valley to the trail running East and West along the Merced River. Here our JMT turns Right towards the West end of Little Yosemite Valley and Nevada Falls beyond.

We can see the solar toilet building in the distant-Right. The Little Yosemite Backpackers Camp is stashed in the forest to the Left of the solar toilet building.

trail forum comments
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Little Yosemite Valley
Trail Signs
along the
John Muir Trail

Descending
into the
Heart of Yosemite

Little Yosemite Valley
"Delta" Junction
CONNECTOR TRAIL TRIANGLE

 

6140 feet

17.76 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows

4.64 miles North of Yosemite Valley

 

to
Little Yosemite Valley
0.0 miles

 

 

Maps and Miles

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map


Map
to
Detailed Maps
Map
to
All Guide Pages
Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map
South-Central Yosemite Hiking Map
30 minute topo hiking map

 

Miles

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

 

SOUTH:

JMT Trail
to
Merced River
Via
Little Yosemite Backpacker Camp

Final Plunge
into
The Heart of Yosemite

Dropping down onto the floor of Little Yosemite Valley along the JMT route below Half Dome we are confronted with a Y-junction in our trail. This would be the Northeastern corner of a big "Delta" trail junction covering the West end of Little Yosemite Valley.

Check it out on the map:

Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map

The difference between these two options is fairly minimal. Both eventually run down to the West end of Little Yosemite Valley, where they join together for the final length of trail West to Nevada Falls. The trail to our Right, along the North edge of Little Yosemite Valley is more direct and shorter, but climbs a bit, is across dry and lots of unshaded terrain, but works its way through and around some cool big granite boulders strewn along that route.

We would bend Right at the trail Y dropping into the corner of Little Yosemite Valley following the Ranger Station Sign below's prompt.

West to Little Yosemite Valley
Ranger Station
Sign pointing directly to Little Yosemite Ranger Station after dropping into Little Yos Valley along the JMT,
Above: Sign pointing us more or less directly West towards Little Yosemite Ranger Station after we dropped into Little Yos Valley along the JMT.

Southbound Option
The actual route of the John Muir Trail continues South, veering Left through the trail Y crossing the narrow width of Little Yosemite Valley to hike between the solar toilets and backpackers camp to the trail junction along the Merced River.

South across Little Yosemite Valley
to
Backpackers Camp and the Merced River
Sign pointing us to the Little Yosemite Backpackers Camp, solar toilets, and Merced River beyond along the route of the JMT.
Above: Sign pointing us to the Little Yosemite Backpackers Camp, solar toilets, and the Merced River along the route of the JMT.

The Merced River runs along the South side of Little Yosemite Valley here, along with the trail running East and West from Yosemite Valley up to Merced Lake, and on to Washburn Lake above Merced Lake.

Our John Muir Trail route West towards Yosemite Valley turns to our right where it converges with the trail running down along the Merced River.

Discuss
Why the JMT

Though the trail along the North side of Little Yos Valley is more direct, I'd take the route of the John Muir Trail along its South side not only because it is flatter, shadier, but mostly because it takes us to the beautiful beach on a deep, calm length of the Merced River.

This killer beach is Great for swimming, obtaining water, and it is just a sweet spot to kick it for a few, and watch the sun sparkling off placid waters. Well, placid waters once we get past the Spring Thaw and well into Summer...

Alternative Backpacking
Loops & Routes

around the
Heart of Yosemite

Tenaya, Merced, Washburn Lakes
&
"Alternative Routes"
Looping the Heart of Yosemite

Woulda-Shoulda
Section-Lengthening Alternative Routes
As we hiked the John Muir Trail down from Tuolumne Meadows we passed two junctions that could have led us Southeast down to Merced and Washburn Lakes higher up along the Merced River than our point of access to the Merced River along our John Muir Trail descent to Little Yos.

Into the Heart
From up there at each of these Merced Lake trail junctions we could have taken a longer route to drop into the bottom of the Merced Canyon much higher up along the course of Merced River, from where we would follow the trail down along the river into Little Yosemite Valley.

Those Merced Lake trail junctions are located at the top of Long Meadow and through the Merced-Washburn Lakes trail junction that we hiked through between the Forsyth trail junction and the trail junction to Clouds Rest as we were coming down the JMT.

Alternative
Entry & Exit Points
As we descended to Sunrise High Sierra Camp we noted the trail down through Sunrise Lakes from Tenaya Lake, and its variation coming down to the JMT under Clouds Rest.

We can see that our planned route coming down the John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadow to Yosemite Valley, then back to the Sierra Crest via Vogelsang High Sierra Camp is complimented by a number of potential routes coming down from Tenaya Lake via Sunrise or Clouds Rest to Merced Lake, & then over Vogelsang to Lyell, to end at Tuolumne Meadows, if not hiking back to Tenaya Lake.

Check out the triangle of trails where we land on the floor of Little Yosemite Valley, and finally access the Merced River itself, on the map below-Left.

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map

Mileage
Tuolumne Meadows
to
Yosemite Valley
Entering Little Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

Little Yos Valley
First Station on the JMT

It does not matter too much if we hike to our Right at the trail Y descending into Little Yosemite Valley pictured above, or continuing straight across the valley to make a Right at the the John Muir Trail junction along the Merced River. Each route shortly brings us to where these trails converge on the Westernmost end of Little Yosemite Valley.

The reasons for veering Left across Little Yosemite Valley would be if we are camping at the Backpackers Camp, want to use the fancy solar toilet, or need water or a relaxing moment from the beach along the Merced River.

For John Muir Trail hikers out of Happy Isles arriving at Little Yosemite Valley marks the completion of their typical "first station" of the JMT. The first station would be reaching their Little Yosemite Valley destination after their first day's rigorous climb off the floor of Yosemite Valley.

Below we follow the trail along the North edge of Little Yosemite Valley to where our Westbound trails reconnect on the West end of Little Yos Valley.

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Trail
on the
North Edge
of
Little Yosemite Valley
to the

West End
of
Little Yosemite Valley:

 

.57 of a mile

Map
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley
15 Minute topo hiking map

Mileage
Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Little Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

Veering Right through the Y after dropping onto the floor of Little Yosemite Valley brings onto a trail that rises and falls a bit as it runs West along the North edge of the valley to the Westernmost end of Little Yosemite Valley.

Below are a few images of hiking along the Northern edge of Little Yosemite Valley down to its West end, signified by the trail sign marking the reunification of these two trails at the junction on the West end of Little Yosemite Valley.

 

The next page, Little Yosemite Valley to Big Yosemite Valley, explores the JMT route option through Little Yosemite Valley that swings by the Little Yosemite Backpackers Camp, the solar toilet building, which then turns downriver at the JMT trail junction above a very nice beach on the Merced River, to meet us at the trail junction sign at the bottom of this page.

 

The segment of the JMT swinging past the backpackers camp and following Merced River down to the junction on the West End of Little Yosemite Valley is
.61 of a mile

 

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Sweet boulders below massive cliffs
Trail around North edge of Little Yosemite Valley.

Trail around North edge of Little Yosemite Valley.

We enter a bit of a labyrinth composed of massive boulder calved off the massive
bulk of the great granite cliffs rising above us.

It's not so quiet when they are moving, but real pretty where they stop.


Rocky Passage along North edge of Little Yosemite Valley
Very nice passage towards West end of Little Yosemite Valley.

Very nice passage towards West end of Little Yosemite Valley.

We're making our way over a little rise tailing off the back end of Liberty Cap.


Under
Liberty Cap's South Flank
Profile of Liberty Cap South Flank from West end of Little Yosemite Valley.

Coming out of our obscured passages reveals a nice profile of Liberty Cap's sheer Southern face.

We shortly drop down to the trail junction on the West end of Little Yosemite Valley.


Trail Junction
on the
West End
of
Little Yosemite Valley
Little Yosemite Valley trail sign.

Little Yosemite Valley trail sign.

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

 

Looking East

Right to the JMT Up.
Right to follow the John Muir Trail route up along the Merced River up to first, the Little Yosemite Backpackers Camp junction, where the JMT turns Left -to the North- while the trail along the Merced River continues upriver to Merced Lake, the route we will follow climbing back out of Yosemite Valley.

 

Trail Guide
EAST


Little
Yosemite Valley
to
Merced Lake


(We will hike up the Merced River beyond Little Yosemite Valley to return to the
John Muir Trail in Lyell Canyon on our return hike back out of Yosemite Valley.)

 

Two Routes
EAST
to
Little Yosemite Backpackers Camp
entering
Little Yosemite Southbound
FROM
YOSEMITE VALLEY
Either
trail East from the trail Y on the West End of Little Yosemite Valley leads us to the Little Yosemite Valley Backpackers Camp. The backpackers camp lays along a segment of trail connecting these two trails, the JMT with the trail up and down the Merced River, less than a half-mile East.

We can see the backpackers camp from either trail, located about .42 of a mile East of the trail Y on the West end of Little Yosemite Valley.

The JMT route along the Merced River is flatter, shadier, and has access to water.

The other route along the North edge of Little Yosemite Valley is more direct, more exposed, and climbs a bit to bring us back down to the trail climbing to Half Dome out of Little Yosemite Valley. The sign above points out that both routes lead to the backpackers camp.

WHY?
Notice how that trail sign deflects Half Dome hikers to the Left, off of the JMT's route specified to the Right along the Merced River to the campground. This distinction splits hikers into Half Dome and JMT hikers through Little Yosemite Valley in favor of the more direct and durable route along the North edge of Little Yosemite Valley for the hikers climbing on to Half Dome while swinging the Muir Trail hikers through the backpackers camp.

That's good trail planning and management.

Split the herd and divide the damages, keeping one or both routes from being unnecessarily overused.

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Next
Little Yosemite Valley
down to
Yosemite Valley

 

6120 feet

18.37 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows

3.43 miles North of Yosemite Valley

 

Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
Miles and Elevations

 

 

The John Muir Trail

North
Back to the Sunrise High Sierra Camp
UP THIS PAGE

North
Previous
Page
Cathedral Lakes to Sunrise High Sierra Camp

 

East
(Not the JMT)
Little Yosemite Valley
to Merced Lake

 

 

Next Page
South
JMT

From Little Yosemite Valley

South
from
Little Yosemite Valley
into
Yosemite Valley

 

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North: Cathedral Lakes to Sunrise HSC                                 South: Little Yosemite Valley into Yosemite Valley

Backpacking
The Heart of Yosemite National Park

The Golden Triangle

Yosemite is a large National Park that I break down into North, Central, and South regions for the convenience of the Long Distance Backpacker.

We hike into the most Northwestern region of Yosemite through Bond or Dorothy Lake Passes on the Tahoe to Yosemite or Pacific Crest Trails, respectively. To our East-Southeast are the Hoover Wilderness Trailheads, to our South-Southwest lays the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River terminating in Hetch Hetchy.

After crossing the boundary entering Yosemite across Dorothy Lake Pass we executed a 56.23 mile hike across the North Yosemite Backcountry to Tuolumne Meadows.

We arrive at roughly the center of the Sierra Nevada entering Tuolumne Meadows. Here the end of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail is supplanted by the John Muir Trail heading South along the Sierra Crest from Tuolumne Meadows.

Since I consider everything South of Tuolumne Meadow to be the South Sierra, our explorations of the center of Yosemite will be quite limited. We simply continue hiking South along the crestline from the combined routes of the TYT-PCT onto the combined routes of JMT-PCT. Unless we shake things up a bit.

Unless we take an alternative route running us down to Yosemite Valley and a different route back up to the JMT that lands us into Lyell Canyon only 5.6 miles South of Tuolumne Meadows.

This is the Golden Triangle Route. Hiking the Golden Triangle Route in addition to our normal route from Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney imparts a much broader view of what this magnificent jewel of the Sierra, Yosemite National Park offers by exploring the world famous routes into and out of Yosemite Valley. And The Valley too! We will get a much fuller view than we would by staying up on the Sierra Crest across Yosemite.

Let's hang a Golden Triangle off our crestline route as we
backpack across Yosemite National Park.

THE GREAT DESCENT
But, hiking all the way down to the 4000 foot level is sort of weird. Well, it would be, but for that great gash of granite running granite more typical of higher elevations all the way down to the 4000 foot level. That itself is amazing.

These granites descend from their lofty heights in wall, faces, valleys, and granite massifs measuring out dimensions of a block of granite showing four thousand feet of depth from the base of Yosemite Valley to the tops of the surrounding Cathedral and Clarks Range peaks.

I figure the "Pluton" from which the Cathedral Range and the Central Yosemite Wilderness was carved from is at least forty miles in length, thirty miles in width, and four thousand feet thick. Those are the specifications I measure from observing the rough extent of the fine granites typical of Yosemite Valley and its surrounding terrain.

A pink tinged granite of a very different texture than Yosemite's characterizes the different composition of the pluton to our North from which the topography of Emigrant Wilderness was cut. To our South the extensive volcanic activity we observe approaching Mammoth Mountain and Ritter and Banner Peaks marks the fiery Southern extent of Yosemite Granite.

Well, those appear to be the rough dimensions of the particular blob of granite composing the Yosemite "Pluton," before the glaciers got ahold of it and carved it into the sweet set of configurations we recognize today.

Yosemite Valley and the great granite gashes running down the mountains to it are the types of granite scenes and granite scenery which are typically restricted to hikers capable of, and willing to work hard to see them at much high altitudes. The wonder of Yosemite and its grand granite Valley are in making these types of high altitude wonders easily accessible to great urban masses of flat landers from the comforts of their cars.

Despite that sad fact I figure no respectable long distance High Sierra backpacker worth their salt would miss experiencing both the grandeur of these monolithic features, or miss observing the spectacle of the vast oceans of people, of "consumers," consuming in the shadow of This Profound Valley.

Consumers consuming Nature in the very heart of Nature. How Ironic.

"Would you like some Hearts of Nature with that pizza?"

Very Interesting, on all counts and from all points of observation.

Approaching The Valley
I am getting excited. I always get a bit antsy approaching resupply spots. But this one, Yosemite Valley, is different from our typical High Sierra resupply spot. It is a simultaneously a unique tourist trap and a national treasure. There are people littering in The Valley standing right next to world-class climbers and backpackers. I mean people throwing trash on the ground! The Valley has toddlers with mouths agape looking at walls rising higher than they can bend their necks to see. It has commute-style traffic leading to and from vast car campgrounds that look more like middle-class suburban life than anything I'd call "camping."

The Valley is all the contradictions of man and Nature packed into one unique, compact package.

Like I said, I'm excited to explore its physical and cultural experiences, and talk to everyone I can. This will be a bit more difficult than on the trail, despite the abundance of people. "City" rules apply in Yosemite Valley, and the majority of tourists persist in pretending they don't see each other. I can be hard to ignore, so this could be a lot of fun...haha...

"Why is that man talking to me?"

Ha ha.
For the fun of it.

This dull attitude of disengagement even reaches up the trails out of Yosemite Valley, at least for as long and far as it takes for a citiot to reengage with their fellow man and Nature. But all is not lost in Yosemite Valley.
There are many consumer-urban folks who are sparked-up and animated by the surrounding beauty, causing them to break out of their consumer-shells and engage the wonders of man and Nature around them.

Alive Again!

Ah, the dread excitement of approaching Yosemite Valley, that cold sweat of joy!

Jeezee, I hear Chango is gone...

He was hanging gear just above The Valley Rangers grasps, and pirate camping
in (and just above) The Valley all Summer long, Climbing everything, talking to everyone, doing everything.
That was in 2002, when I met Shannon and he introduced me to many strands in the webs of climbing culture. Wow. Old heroes, such as Royal Robbins, new hotshots climbing all around, and the mature classics like Yerian and many others.

Oh, and Sammy Shannon also introduced me to technical climbing. This was fortuitous. Learning the fundamentals of rock climbing really improved my skills as a backpacker, backcountry backpacker, and scrambler.

Thus I encourage backpackers to interact with climbers as possible through Yosemite, where we may come into close contact. Learn as much as possible about traction, flakes, and surfaces from them as possible.

A climber's understanding of the nature of surfaces is a valuable possession.

Plus, they are a very interesting group of folks.

Notes
on
Yosemite Climbing Culture
Notes
on
Trail Culture

 

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7.5 Map:
Cathedral Pass to Yosemite Valley

 

30 min Map
Central Yosemite

 

Miles and Elevations

 

 

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Backpacking Trail Guide

JMT
North

Cathedral
Lakes
to
Sunrise
HSC

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Backpacking
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JMT
South

Little
Yosemite
Valley
to
Big
Yosemite
Valley

East
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JMT

Little
Yosemite
Valley
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Merced
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Above we come to the Front Page of the High Backpacking Trails and Topics Forums. Below we break the forums down into categories:

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The Trails Forum acts as your place to put up input, comments, relate your experiences, or ask questions about each segment and spot along the length of our combined TYT-PCT-JMT trails.

The Forum is your place to supplement the trail guide.

Anyone can post text comments in the existing forums, but only members can post up new topics, along with images, maps, and formatting.

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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

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