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Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

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Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby Stocco » Fri May 31, 2019 4:53 am

Hello,

I am looking for some advice, I am planning to visit Yosemite at the end of June (my first trip to the USA!) I want to do the trail from Old Big Oak Flat trailhead to El Cap (North Rim Trail) and on to Yosemite Falls and perhaps elsewhere depending how exhausted we are. Planning to spend 3 days hiking with the tent.

My question is how to get to Old Big Oak Flat parking lot. Is there a bus? I am finding conflicting info online - my Lonely Planet (2019 edition) says there is though. I will have a rental car, but as it's not a round trip will need to hitch or get a bus at one end or the other.

If there is no bus, what do you think are the chances of me and my partner hitching a ride there?


Sorry if this post is in the wrong place, obviously I am new here.
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Re: Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby dan » Fri May 31, 2019 9:04 am

First, what Old Big Oak Flat trailhead are you interested in?
1) The north end at Tamarack Flat Campground
2) The middle--via a lateral trail leaving from the (new) Big Oak Flat Road at the junction with Foresta. There is a small parking lot and trailhead sign.
3) The south end in Yosemite Valley.

For (1) and (2), you can take the Hikers Bus from any of the Yosemite Valley hotels. There is a fee--it is not free (link below). Reserve at the transportation desk--it leaves in the morning. The driver will stop and let you out anywhere there's a pullout.

For (2), you have to walk several miles from Tioga Road to Tamarack Flat CG. You can try hitch-hiking, but it may be a long wait! You probably don't want to do this without a car shuttle.

For (3), just start walking on the old Road--it gradually heads up from the Valley Floor near El Capitan. Part of the road has a landslide, but make your way through the boulder field.

There's also creek crossings.

Hiker bus link (it is ran by the park concessionaire):
https://www.travelyosemite.com/things-t ... bus-tours/
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Re: Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby Stocco » Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:09 am

I was planning to go to number 8 on this map here https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/wildernesstrailheads.pdf.

I think that corresponds to 2 in your description? - I have no need to get to the camp ground though as we will be camping wild.

Thanks for your link, do you have any links to some good maps? none of the ones I have found seem to be very comprehensive.

How strict are they as regards permits? I have a wilderness permit to enter at that trailhead, but will anyone even check? If I start walking at number 3 in your description will anyone notice? This concept is new to me.
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Re: Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:25 am

Stocco wrote:I was planning to go to number 8 on this map here https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/wildernesstrailheads.pdf.

I think that corresponds to 2 in your description? - I have no need to get to the camp ground though as we will be camping wild.


Yes, that is correct.

Thanks for your link, do you have any links to some good maps? none of the ones I have found seem to be very comprehensive.


There are good maps for sale in the wilderness offices. I use the Tom Harrison maps for most California destinations including Yosemite.

How strict are they as regards permits? I have a wilderness permit to enter at that trailhead, but will anyone even check? If I start walking at number 3 in your description will anyone notice? This concept is new to me.


Extremely strict, and you will also need a bear can that is on their specific list, not anything else - no Ursack, no counterbalance hanging, just approved bear canisters that the park requires, or you risk up to $5000 in fines. If you are on a route that does not match your wilderness permit there is a stiff penalty for that as well -- starting at the wrong trailhead can incur a $300 penalty if I recall correctly.

You may also be instructed to avoid camping in specific places as there are very strict rules about where you can camp even if you are "camping wild." He gave you directions to a trailhead at Tamarack Campground, so if you had a permit for this trailhead that is where you would start hiking.
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Re: Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby Stocco » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:12 am

Thanks for the tip with the maps, I'll try to get one online ahead of time so I can plan better. The bear can is no problem, I will rent one from the park when we get there.

He gave you directions to a trailhead at Tamarack Campground, so if you had a permit for this trailhead that is where you would start hiking.


This has confused me a bit, my permit says: "Old Big Oak Flat Road" Why then do I have to hike to Tamarack Campground? According to the map I linked to that is not on my route.
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Re: Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby dan » Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:08 am

No. You do not need to hike to Tamarack Flat Campground. That is just one end of the road. You can hike any part of the road you wish. Most people start (or end) at the junction with the Foresta Road and hike into the valley.
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Re: Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby jgaffney » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:08 pm

dan wrote:[J]ust start walking on the old Road--it gradually heads up from the Valley Floor near El Capitan. Part of the road has a landslide, but make your way through the boulder field.


The ranger at the Wilderness Office (on the phone) scared me off of this option. In addition to the unmarked, unmaintained trail with many rockfalls, she said there's a lot of PO.
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Re: Advice on getting to Old Big Oak Flat trailhead

Postby WanderingJim » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:01 pm

Having just done this trial, here's what I can tell you:

Yes, the trailhead is along the road going up to Hwy 120 near Forresta. Parking and bear boxes are available.

As to how to get back to your car, I ended up hitching a ride with two nice people. One who got me to the 140/120 junction and one who took me up to the trailhead from there.

A sign helps, but most people won't know where that trailhead is so I wrote "HWY 120" and "Halfway to CRANE FLAT" to help convince people they don't have to take me back to San Francisco. :)

The jerks who passed me by can rot in Hell. :) Not that I'm bitter about them or anything. :)

I recommend leaving your backpack(s) in bear boxes in the valley, hitch a ride back to your car, then drive back for your gear. Takes a little longer, but people are sometimes reluctant to pickup someone with 40 pounds of gear on their backs. :)

The other option is the Tuolumne Meadows Hiker's shuttle when it's running.

And the last option is YARTS. Not too many of them running (mostly late afternoon, I think), but any running to Mammoth Lakes or Groveland will go by the trailhead.

Here's my trip report if that helps:
https://wandering.earth/index.php/2019/07/14/yosemite-july-2019/
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