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the best backpack trail to take in Yosemite

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 8:06 am
by jordanGilbert
I am going to Yosemite for the first time with a group of 6. We are looking for a 3 day/2 nights backpacking trip during june 6th. We were wondering what is the best trail to take considering the Half-Dome looks full. Toulomne Medows looked great, but we are scared of the weather at the higher altitudes. Again, Wawona looked fine, but we couldn't figure out a camp ground and what could be done after Chinualna falls.

Please advice since I am so confused!

Re: Confused about the best trail
Author: Dan Anderson (
Date: 04-22-03 21:39

Chilnualna Falls is a dayhike--too close for a backpack.

Half-dome is busy (it's never full--there's room for everyone on top) and you can't camp on the dome (but you can camp nearby).

For early season I recommend the low country north of Hetch Hetchy Resevoir. There's a few trails heading north from Hetch Hetchy. The trail starts over the dam, follows the resevoir and heads into uncrowded backcountry.

I also recommend the area between the North Rim of Yosemite Valley and Tioga Road. You can backpack in and have views of the Valley.

Re: Confused about the best trail
Author: Mike (
Date: 04-24-03 22:17

Like Dan said, you can always camp close to Half Dome...something I've always wanted to do.

Don't rule out Chilnualna Falls. I planned a three day trip in that area last year but due to curcumstances beyond my control, had to cut it short. We camped just past Chilnualna Falls.

This Memorial Day weekend I'm heading back there to "complete" my trip from last year. I'm doing a semi-loop going past the falls, Royal Arch Lake, Buenna Vista Lake and back down past the falls.

The Backcountry

Re: the best backpack trail to take in Yosemite

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 11:45 am
by balzaccom
With a group of six, permits may be a concern. And in early June, snow will also be an issue.

With all of that said, I'd look to see if I can get either Cathedral Lakes or Sunrise Lakes trailhead, which would allow you to hike up to Clouds Rest, then explore a bit more, either on the way back to the Valley or your starting trailhead. The route would be more or less under 10,000 feet, offer spectacular views from Clouds' Rest (better than Half Dome) and might even have space in the trailhead quotas...

Re: the best backpack trail to take in Yosemite

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 6:32 pm
by Phil
"Best" is subjective.

Sure, weather can still be a factor in early June, but then it can be in August, too. As Balzaccom says, it's the snow at higher elevations, and it'll be mosquitoes. With a few traces here and there, Tuolumne is clear of snow, down canyon from there to Glen Aulin is clear, and the north rim of Yosemite Valley is also clear. What's below it will still be wet and sloppy, though. For two nights and three days, I would walk a loop starting and ending at Yosemite Creek off Tioga Rd, toodle around the lower elevations of the north rim and avoid all the problems with the higher country.

Here's a model of the snow depths taken out to 05/24/18. You'll see Tioga Rd marked in red and the Tuolumne River marked in blue, and the map is pretty well centered up on Tuolumne Meadows. You'll also clearly see that the higher elevations surrounding it still have a lot of cover. This also includes at least a couple/few...six+ feet still hanging around up past Cathedral Lakes, Sunrise Lakes, CR. etc. By June 6th, it'll be less, but not gone. ... &js=1&uc=0

You should always know the weather forecast any time of year but, for now, that's the least of your worries. Stay lower, be happier. Always be cautious around moving water.

Re: the best backpack trail to take in Yosemite

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 7:05 pm
by Phil
And btw-

As Balzaccom also mentioned, permitting 6 people is sometimes hard, if not impossible on the most popular trailheads, at the right times. Here's what's available: ... lheads.htm

Who knows how many spots are available under reservation without inquiring, but availability in reservations is usually a good indication of walk-up permit availability as well (60% and 40% of the quota, respectively). You'll notice space available on your date for Yosemite Creek and several other north rim trailheads.

Re: the best backpack trail to take in Yosemite

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 9:33 pm
by AlmostThere
I think this is one of Dan's reposts of accidentally removed threads. Dates are in 2003...

Re: the best backpack trail to take in Yosemite

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 9:46 pm
by Phil
I don't know if Dan is still working through all that or not. The OP's post shows today's date. You know how it is with people jumping and pasting old threads.

Oh well, either way, the advice, the NOHRSC model, and the full trailhead report are current and generic enough for anybody else to use, too, so somebody's bound to get some use out of it.