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Yosemite in mid-March

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:22 pm
by Cee
My son and his friends were planning on coming here (CA) for spring break from the East Coast. A couple of them really want to go to Yosemite since they have only heard of it and seen photographs. The issue with mid-March (10th to 17th) is that most of Yosemite will probably have snow, especially this year. Balzacom's site had a description of the Rancheria Falls hike from Hetch-Hetchy as one of the early season hikes. Since they want to backpack, I spoke with a ranger and he suggested Rancheria Falls (6.5 miles from Hetch-Hetchy) on to Tilltill Valley (~10 miles total in one day); set up tent; then next day, camp 10 miles away (what would be a decent spot?) and then come back via Beehive Meadows.

While the boys are up for backpacking and day hiking, they are not at all keen on snowshoeing with packs. Does their plan seem reasonable given the wet winter we have had (no complaining here, we need the water and snow). Or, should they be planning day hikes only? In that case the question would be lodging since there is no open campground in Hetch-Hetchy and Upper Pines is reserved. Hodgdon Meadow Campground would be another bet that would allow for day hikes in Hetch-Hetchy and the Valley.

Not sure what to suggest to them especially since some of them are coming to CA for the first time.


Re: Yosemite in mid-March

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:15 pm
by Dave_Ayers
Since they've never been to Yosemite, I recommend prioritizing the classic 'tourist' day hikes in the Valley. Vernal and Nevada Falls; 4 mile trail to Glacier Point; top of Yosemite Falls; Merced Lake/Meadow; etc. Given a full week, they could split the trip 50/50 on Yosemite Valley day hikes and a backpack trip near Hetch Hetchy. They will also dig a visit to a grove of Big Trees - Merced Grove would be most convenient if there isn't too much snow.

Hodgdon Mdw on highway 120 is ~4800 feet which may or may not have snow in mid March. But they will have to drive over 6,200 feet to get in/out of the Valley. Usually that isn't problem, but it could be if a storm moves in. They may want to have chains and/or an all-wheel drive vehicle if feasible.

There are other camping options outside the park along hwy 120 that are lower and less likely to have snow such as the Pines. (See for example ... -entrance/ .) But again, they'll have to go over the hump to get to/from Yosemite.

A more sure option might be Indian Flat campground along hwy 140. That keeps the peak drive elevation to only 4,000 feet. Or pony up the $$ and stay at the Yosemite Westgate Lodge or the Cedar Lodge along hwy 140.

Re: Yosemite in mid-March

PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:22 am
by balzaccom
Yep. The only guarantee for March is that there will be snow in the high country, and that includes Tiltill Valley. You can day hike up to LeConte point frame Rancheria Falls, but this year snow is an issue!

Even the day hikes might be limited. Right now both Four Mile Trail and Yosemite Falls trails are shortened because of winter conditions. But check out our site for other hikes in the valley that may not involve trails: RibbonFalls, the wander up to the base of Illilouette Falls...Those would be cool adventures

You can also find camping g at Buck Meadows in the USFS campgrounds...

Re: Yosemite in mid-March

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:07 pm
by Cee
Thank you, Dave and Balzaccom, for your input. I forwarded your responses to them so they could plan their trip. They were definitely planning on splitting their time between the Valley and Hetch-Hetchy and the plan is for them to carry chains. I think the friends, who are all from the East Coast or Midwest (high snow states) are more familiar with snow driving than my son -- yes, CA certainly spoilt us!