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Advice on Kid-Friendly 1 Night Backpacking Trips

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Advice on Kid-Friendly 1 Night Backpacking Trips

Postby willybragg » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:50 am

Hello, everyone. First time out with my 8 year old. Any recommendations for a good introductory hike around 6 miles round trip or in and out...

Prefer to leave from the valley. Looking for trail recommendations and where to overnight wilderness camp. Water sources preferable, as well...

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Re: Advice on Kid-Friendly 1 Night Backpacking Trips

Postby WanderingJim » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:09 pm

Leaving from the Valley means at least a 3000 foot climb right away. Is your 8-year old able to do that?

If they can, then going up Yosemite Falls trail, hanging a right at the top, and camping up beyond Yosemite Point (4 miles up and 4 miles down). Or head left to Eagle Peak Meadow then do a day hike to the top of El Capitan (take the side trip to Eagle Peak on the way) then next day before descending to the valley. Maybe a little longer hike for the first day and the added 5-6 miles for the round trip to El Capitan (without your full pack, of course).

Snow Creek Trail is another option, but doesn't have as much of a grand view at the top.

You could also go down the Pohono Trail from Glacier Point to Tunnel View. Maybe 13 miles, but mostly downhill. You could take the hiker's bus up to start. You would have to get past Bridelveil Creek before camping. You could even shorten it by starting at Pohono Trail/Taft Point or McGurk Meadow (although you loose a lot of the views from the south rim starting from McGurk Meadow).

You could also go up the Mist trail, see the two falls, then camp at Little Yosemite Valley camp. maybe 4 miles up and 4 miles back.
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Re: Advice on Kid-Friendly 1 Night Backpacking Trips

Postby balzaccom » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:10 pm

Jim is correct. There's no way that I would take a young kid on a long hike up and out of the Valley with a pack on. Why? Are you trying to convince him that backpacking is suffering?

Go up to Mono Meadows and hike down into the Illiloutte Canyon area. It's 3-4 miles, mainly downhill, and you can camp along a lovely stream, fish, dabble in the creek...etc. And on the way home, when you packs are lighter because the food is gone and you are carrying some of his stuff, you hike back uphill to the trailhead. You can get a bus from the Valley to stop there.

Or head up to Tuolumne Meadows and hike out the long flat Lyell Canyon trail. Swim, fish in the river, and relax. And then have an easy five mile hike back to Tuolumne Meadows.
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Re: Advice on Kid-Friendly 1 Night Backpacking Trips

Postby markskor » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:13 pm

Agree that hiking from the Valley might be too much for a little guy...(BTW, always kills me too.)
When my son was 8 - 11 ish, we did many father-son hikes -
- Yosemite Falls trail (started off on 120), easy down to top of the falls, down the switchbacks next day...YARTS return to car.
- Porcupine Flats to top of Snow Creek...return same trail.
- May Lake trail - easy...even got him to the top of Hoffman the next day...return same.
- As mentioned, up the Lyell
- Fisherman's trail up to Lower Cathedral.
- 20 Lakes Basin out of Saddlebag.
- Onion Valley TH to Matlock/ Gilbert /Flower Lakes area.
- Dinky Lakes always works too.
Last edited by markskor on Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice on Kid-Friendly 1 Night Backpacking Trips

Postby Phil » Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:00 pm

I would follow Markskor's advice and take it downhill off the north rim of the valley, either from Yosemite Creek or Porcupine Creek along hwy 120 (Tioga Rd). Climbing out of the valley is just plain hard, hot, and painful with a pack on. Your kid will probably be miserable and never want to go again.

The first time I took my kids backpacking was when they were about 6 and 8. We went down from Lukens Lake (an alternate to Yosemite Creek) and spent the night at a beautiful creekside campsite about half way between the trailhead and the top of Yosemite Falls. Second day went down the Falls Trail to the Valley and stayed at the backpacker's camp by North Pines, shuttled back to the car the next day. About 13 miles. No problems, they had an absolute blast, and they're still at it and loving it almost 15 years later....I just slow them down nowadays.

Another good choice would be May Lake>exit Murphy Creek. Short, although a little longer than 6 miles overall, easy, mostly downhill. Camping at either May lake itself and/or Raisin Lake or Polly Dome Lakes. Loop back around a couple miles or so back up to the car from the Sunrise Trailhead when you exit.

One last one: Yes, Lyell Canyon out of Tuolumne Meadows along the Tuolumne River, up to Ireland Creek (plenty of beautiful sites), return back to TM the next day. Pretty much just flat, but a beautiful hike.
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Re: Advice on Kid-Friendly 1 Night Backpacking Trips

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:55 am

And if none of those are open for your use because the permits are all gone or there is too much snow, you might consider hiking from a national forest trailhead. The office in Oakhurst can issues you a permit for the Quartz Mountain trailhead. Rent a bear can from an REI, get the permit from Quartz Mountain, hike in to Chain Lakes. Which is in Yosemite but far off the beaten path.

This is if you don't intend to go this weekend, by the way. There's plenty of snow left and roads will probably start to open in late May.
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