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Next: 9. Camping Tours • Contents • Previous: 7. Big Tree Groves
As a rule, visitors to Yosemite come with an indistinct idea of the way in which they can dispose of their time to best advantage; that is to say, how they can, in a given time, visit with the least fatigue the most places of pre-eminent interest. To afford such information, and so to prevent the necessity of entire dependence on persons who have not always either the time or the temper or the intelligence to give clear explanations to travelers with no previous knowledge of the valley, the following itinerary or scheme of trips has been prepared. It is the result of the writer’s own experience (he having made repeated visits to nearly all the places named, going afoot as well as on horseback to them) assisted by the advice of others— ladies and men—who, by their experience, are competent to give profitable advice.
It is hoped that the routes as planned will be found comprehensive enough to meet the requirements of everybody. Variations will doubtless suggest themselves as occasion arises. The traveler would do well to make up his mind before arriving at the Valley as to the route he will follow, and if he should decide to remain longer than was expected it will be easy to select additional places to visit.
The trips marked as “Recommended” are those especially suggested to be taken by the visitor who has no preconceived fancy about his route. Such persons as wish to visit particular points within a limited time will find the needed information in the alternative trips if not in those recommended.
When stages arrive in the Valley late in the afternoon, the routes as planned below may be amended simply by omitting the recommendations for afternoon drives or rides—the routes for one day and a half thus becoming those for one day, and so through the list.
As there will be found references from one route to another— in describing the trails and points for observation—it will be well, after selecting a route, to mark it and the pages to which reference is made, when there is such reference.
It is impossible to lay out definite routes that can be recommended to all camping parties. When such party makes an excursion from camp, some members are likely to be afoot and some on horseback. Women, children and hardy men ramble in company. Nevertheless, the trips as planned will be found to require very little alteration to suit the average camping party.
Pedestrians who are good mountaineers can follow the itinerary given below closely, the writer being enabled to make that statement confidently, by his having himself walked over the ground in the time and order described in most of the routes as written.
No. 1—Recommended.—To foot of Yosemite Fall, thence to Mirror Lake and to Vernal Fall.
Directions:—Stages arrive in the Valley about noon. On the Raymond and Wawona route a telegraph can be sent before leaving Wawona, ordering Coffman & Kenney (who have the privilege of supplying visitors in the Valley with vehicles and saddle-horses) to have a conveyance at the hotel on arrival of stage. In the telegram give number of persons in the party.
After lunch in Valley, drive to the foot of Yosemite Fall; thence by Yosemite, Hunto, and Lake avenues to Mirror Lake. Thence by Tissaack avenue to the Merced bridge. Let carriage wait here. Walk up the Anderson trail, which starts from the north side of the Merced bridge, and follows the river to the Register Rock bridge, where a fine view is had of the Vernal Fall. Cross the bridge, and by trail approach foot of Vernal Fall. The distance to be walked is about 2.50 miles, going and returning. From foot of Vernal Fall return to carriage and drive to hotel by Glacier avenue.
Persons not wishing to walk may order saddle-horses instead of a carriage to be in waiting at hotel, or may use carriage to the Merced bridge, and have saddle-horses waiting there, to take them to Vernal Fall and back.
No. 2—Alternate.—By Eagle Peak trail to Columbia Rock and Upper Yosemite Fall.
Directions:—Telegraph to Coffman & Kenney in advance of arrival, (or give orders immediately on arrival at hotel in valley), for saddle horses to be at hotel after lunch. Ride to foot of Eagle Peak trail, by crossing the bridge at Barnard’s Hotel, taking the first left-hand turn, passing Hutching’s cabin, crossing the Yosemite creek, and turning to the right where the trail leaves Yosemite avenue. Ascending the trail, fasten horses to hitching stand at Columbia Rock and go out on the rock. There is here a fine view up and down the valley. Then ride to hitching stand near foot of Upper Yosemite Fall. Dismount and follow a small trail to foot of fall—a short walk. Returning, if there be time, visit foot of Lower Yosemite Fall.
The distance of the whole trip is about six miles, and can be easily made in an afternoon. When the days are long the return to the hotel from the foot of the Lower Fall can be made by way of Hunto, Tissaack and Glacier avenues, passing by Indian Caņon, the Royal Arches, Washington Tower, the Camp Ground, Glacier Point, Lamon’s Orchard and the Stoneman House (the hotel built by the State), if the traveler is stopping at another house.
This trip can sometimes be made when other trails are encumbered by snow. In the early part of the season there is at the foot of the Upper Yosemite Fall an ice cone, 500 feet high, which is one of the famous sights of the valley. Late in the summer there is little water coming over this cliff, and then, instead of this trip, the following should be taken:
No. 3—Alternative.—To Union Point, Glacier Point and return.
Directions:—Telegraph in advance, or give orders on arrival in Valley, for saddle horses to be at hotel after lunch. From the village go by Sentinel avenue to Glacier Point trail, which leaves the avenue about one mile below the village. Ascend trail to Union Point, where there is a particularly fine view. Just below this point is the Agassiz Column, a tall club-like rock, standing on end, and apparently ready to topple over with very little pressure. From here, continuing on, the trail leads up to Glacier Point. Return to Valley by same route. From the village to Glacier Point and back is a distance of between nine and ten miles. To make this trip pleasantly, five hours of daylight or more is desirable. For a comprehensive glimpse of all the famous points of the Valley and its immediate neighborhood, the ride up this trail and the view from Glacier Point are unexcelled.
Note.—For several months of each season of travel stages run between Glacier Point and Chinquapin, the latter a station on the Wawona and Raymond route from the Valley. Visitors can then ride up to Glacier Point in the afternoon, remain at the hotel there over night, sending their horses back to the Valley by a guide. In the morning take stage to Chinquapin and Wawona, arriving at the latter place in time to visit the Mariposa Big Trees on the same day. If baggage has been brought to the Valley, it can be sent back by the same route on which it came, meeting the owner at Wawona. The stages on the two routes are operated by the same company. Places in the coaches from Glacier Point should be secured at Wawona, while the visitor is on his way to the Valley, or at the stage office in the Valley, before starting for Glacier Point.
There are some noteworthy views on this road, especially that from Washburn Point.
The distance between Glacier Point and Chinquapin is thirteen miles.
When stages are not running between these two places, and when a return to the Valley is not wished, then remain at Glacier Point over night with horses and guide. In the morning take an early start and ride to Chinquapin, there taking the stage to Wawona, and letting the guide take the saddle-horses back to the Valley. The ride is not a hard one, as the road descends for the greater part of the way. But word should be left in the stage office in the Valley, in order to secure places, and to warn the stage to wait at Chinquapin should the arrival of the party be delayed.
No. 4—Alternate.—Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and return.
Directions:—Have horses in waiting at hotel on arrival of stage. (See Directions for No. 2). Ride by Glacier avenue to Merced bridge; thence by Anderson trail, starting from north end of Merced bridge, and following up the Merced River to Register Rock bridge. Cross the bridge and follow trail up the river to Register Rock, where there is an old cabin. Fasten horses here, or leave them with the guide, and walk up to the Lady Franklin Rock, a broad flat rock at the foot of the Vernal Fall. Return to horses and ride by trail, which starts from Register Rock to Snow’s Hotel (Casa Nevada) at the foot of the Nevada Fall. On the way are seen the Emerald Pool (a short distance above the head of the Vernal Fall), the Diamond Cascade and the Silver Apron—the Apron below and the Cascade just above a bridge which is crossed before reaching Snow’s. From Snow’s return to Valley.
This trip covers about nine miles going and returning. To make it pleasantly, an early afternoon start is desirable.
If the party be accompanied by a guide, the horses may be sent in his charge from Register Rock around by trail to near the head of the Vernal Fall. The visitors may then afoot ascend the Ladders, a wooden stairway, built up at the side of the Vernal Fall, and, meeting the guide and horses above, proceed to the foot of Nevada Fall; or they may ride up the trail from Register Rock, and descend afoot by the Ladders, sending the horses down the trail with the guide.
No. 5—Alternate.—Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and Glacier Point.
Directions:—This trip includes more than can be seen in any other way in the same time. But only persons who are not easily fatigued, or who do not mind fatigue, should undertake it for one afternoon; and, unless the visitor does not dislike a chance of riding after nightfall, the trip should only be attempted with at least five clear hours of daylight from time of leaving the hotel.
Have horses awaiting arrival of stage in Valley. (See Directions for No. 2). Ride to Casa Nevada, as in Directions No. 4; thence to head of Nevada Fall and by Echo Wall trail, passing Tooloolaweack Creek and Fall to Glacier Point.
Remain at Glacier Point Hotel over night, and in morning take stage or ride to Chinquapin, as in Note to No. 3.
One Day and a Half.
No. 6—Recommended.—First Afternoon.—By Eagle Peak trail to Columbia Rock and Upper Yosemite Fall.
Directions:—As given for No. 2.
Second Day.—Mirror Lake, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and Glacier Point.
Directions:—Drive to Mirror Lake; thence to Merced bridge, where saddle-horses should be in waiting. (Orders for a carriage and for horses at the bridge should be given on the night before.) From Merced bridge take Anderson trail to Vernal Fall and to Casa Nevada as in directions for No. 4. Lunch at Casa Nevada (Snow’s hotel.) Then take trail to head of Nevada Fall, and by Echo Wall trail to Glacier Point, passing Tooloolaweack Creek and the Fall of the same name.
From Glacier Point descend to Valley, or remain overnight and take stage in the morning as in Note to No. 3.
The round distance of this trip, if return be made to the Valley, is about seventeen miles, of which about thirteen must be made on horseback. The other part of the distance being the carriage ride to Mirror Lake. It is rather a hard excursion for persons not used to horseback riding in the mountains, but it will amply repay any amount of fatigue.
The visit to Mirror Lake may be omitted in the late Summer and Fall, as the lake has then little water in it, and is apt to be disappointing to visitors.
This trip may be made in reverse order by ascending the Glacier Point trail and returning by way of Nevada and Vernal Falls.
No. 7—Alternate.—First Afternoon.—By Eagle Peak trail to Columbia Rock and foot of Upper Yosemite Fall. Directions as for No. 2.
Second Day.—Mirror Lake, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and return to Valley. Directions as for No. 6.
An easy trip for persons not used to riding, and affording time to enjoy, at one’s leisure, the scenes visited.
No. 8—Alternate.—First Afternoon.—Same as in No. 7.
Second Day.—To Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome.
Directions:—Same as for No. 3 as far as Glacier Point. Lunch at Glacier Point and then ride by trail to Sentinel Dome (distance to Dome and back about 2.50 miles) whence return to Point and back to Valley by same route. Or, as in note to No. 3.
No. 9—Alternate.—First Afternoon—Vernal and Nevada Falls.
Directions as in No. 4 as far as Snow’s Hotel. Remain there over night.
Second Day.—To Cloud’s Rest and return to Valley.
Directions:—Leave Snow’s in the morning provided with a lunch that can be carried on the saddle. Take Cloud’s Rest trail, passing up by Nevada Fall. Turn off Cloud’s Rest trail to visit the head of the Nevada Fall. There is a sign-board at the turn-off. Then come back to Cloud’s Rest trail and follow it to the summit. Without a guide it is necessary to be careful in following the Cloud’s Rest trail, as there are others leading to Little Yosemite and to Sunrise Ridge. The Cloud’s Rest trail keeps to the left ascending, the others to the right.
The distance from Snow’s to the summit of Cloud’s Rest is 7.18 miles. From the summit back to the hotels in Valley is from eleven to twelve miles.
Two Days and a Half.
No. 10—Recommended.—First Afternoon— Lower Round Drive.
Directions:—On arrival at hotel order a carriage to be waiting after lunch. Drive around the lower end of Valley, going first by way of Sentinel and Cathedral avenues to the foot of Bridal Veil Fall. Return on the opposite side of the Merced River, after crossing by Pohono bridge, and visit foot of Lower Yosemite Fall. If an early start be made and the day is a long one, the drive may be extended down the Valley as far as the Cascade Fall.
Second Day.—Eagle Peak or Yosemite Point.
Directions:—Have horses engaged on the preceding evening. Provide a lunch that can be carried on the saddle. Ride to foot of Eagle Peak trail by crossing the bridge at Barnard’s. hotel, and following Meadow avenue until it unites with Yosemite avenue. Turn to the left, and pass by the Hutchings Cabin; cross the Yosemite Creek bridge and take the Nagle Peak trail, which turns to the right from the avenue, about a quarter of a mile below the bridge. Ascending the trail to Columbia Rock, fasten horses to hitching bar and go out on the Rock. Then on horseback retake the trail to the next hitching bar, which is near the foot of Upper Yosemite Fall. A small foot-path leads out to the foot of the Fall.
Returning to horses from the Fall, follow the trail up to Eagle Peak. There is a side trail, marked by a board, that leads off to the head of the Yosemite Fall. About three-quarters of a mile further up, the trail forks again. Take the left-hand branch, which leads to Eagle Meadow and Eagle Peak. The right-hand branch goes to Lake Tenayah.
On descending from the Peak a visit may be made to the head of the Yosemite Fall.
The trip may also be extended to Yosemite Point. The trail to that place branches off to the left from the one going out to the head of the Fall, and leads to a bridge by which Yosemite Creek is crossed. As, however, the trip to Eagle Peak involves in itself about as much exercise as the average visitor cares to take in one day, besides occupying a full day’s time to be made without excessive hurry, it is advisable not to insist on going to Yosemite Point. Or, if it is wished to visit that Point, go there and omit going up to Eagle Peak.
Third Day.—Mirror Lake, Vernal and Nevada Falls and Glacier Point.
Directions:—Same as for second day of No. 6.
This route involves two days of riding which may be too severe for persons unaccustomed to the saddle. The following routes for two days and a half are easier, and thoroughly satisfactory as regards their comprehensiveness.
No. 11—Alternate.—First Afternoon—Lower Round Drive, as in No. 10.
Second Day.—Mirror Lake, Vernal and Nevada Falls.
Directions:—As for second day of No. 6 as far as Snow’s, at Nevada Fall. (Also see No. 4) Lunch there and return to Valley.
Third Day—Glacier Point.
Directions:—Ordering horses on the preceding day or evening, follow directions as in No. 3.
No. 12—Alternate.—First Afternoon—Lower Round Drive, as directed in No. 10.
Second Day.—Eagle Peak or Yosemite Point, as directed in No. 10.
Third Day.—Mirror Lake, Vernal and Nevada Falls, as for second day of No. 11.
For Three Days and a Half.
No. 13—Recommended.—First Afternoon. Lower Round Drive. See first afternoon of No. 10.
Second Day.—Eagle Peak or Yosemite Point, as per second day of No. 10.
Third Day.—Mirror Lake, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and Cloud’s Rest.
Directions:—Being provided with a lunch, drive to Mirror Lake and thence to Merced bridge, where saddle-horses should be in waiting. A carriage for the drive to the Lake and saddle-horses should be ordered on the preceding evening. In the autumn, Mirror Lake being then very shallow, that part of the trip may be omitted, and saddle-horses taken direct from the hotel.
Follow directions given in No. 4 as far as Casa Nevada, at foot of Nevada Fall; thence take trail to Cloud’s Rest, passing up by the Nevada Fall.
Without a guide visitors must be careful in following the Cloud’s Rest trail, as there are others leading off from it to the head of Nevada Fall, to the Little Yosemite and to Sunrise Ridge. The Cloud’s Rest trail keeps to the left, ascending; the others to the right.
From the summit of Cloud’s Rest return to Casa Nevada, and remain there over night.
Fourth Day.—Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome.
Directions:—Take trail to head of Nevada Fall, thence by Echo Wall trail, passing Tooloolaweack Caņon and the Fall of the same name, to Glacier Point. Dine at the Point. In the afternoon ride to Sentinel Dome, which is less than a mile and a quarter distant from the Point. Returning, descend to the Valley by the Glacier Point trail; or, remain over night at the Point and take stage for Chinquapin on the following morning, as directed in Note, Tour No. 3.
No. 14—Alternate.—First Afternoon. Lower Round Drive, as directed in No. 10.
Second Day.—Eagle Peak or Yosemite Point, as in No. 10.
Third Day.—Mirror Lake, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Little Yosemite and Lost Valley.
Directions:—Drive to Mirror Lake early in the morning by Meadow, Hunto and Lake avenues, passing by Indian Caņon, the Royal Arches, Washington Column and the Camp Ground. From Mirror Lake drive to Merced bridge, where saddle-horses should be in waiting. (Carriage and horses should be ordered on the preceding evening.) From Merced bridge ride by Anderson trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls. (See Tour No. 4.) Lunch at Casa Nevada. In the afternoon ride up to head of Nevada Fall and to the Little Yosemite and Lost Valley. (The two last named places are not at present as well known as some other parts of the Valley, but are very interesting.)
The trail for Little Yosemite leaves the Cloud’s Rest trail where the latter turns away from the river.
From Little Yosemite return to Snow’s (Casa Nevada), and remain over night.
Fourth Day.—Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, as for fourth day of No. 13.
No. 15—Alternate.—First Afternoon. Lower Round Drive, as in No. 10.
Second Day.—Eagle Peak or Yosemite Point, as in No. 10.
Third Day.—Cloud’s Rest, as in third day of No. 13; or Nevada Fall and Little Yosemite, as in third day of No. 14. But in either case, instead of remaining over night at Snow’s, return to Valley.
Fourth Day.—Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome, as directed in No. 3.
Four Days and a Half.
No. 16—Recommended.—First Afternoon.—Lower Round Drive, as in No. 10.
Second Day.—Eagle Peak or Yosemite Pt., as for second day of No. 10.
Third Day—Glacier Pt. and Sentinel Dome.
Directions:—From the hotel take Sentinel avenue to foot of Glacier Point trail, which leaves the avenue about one mile below the village. Ascend trail to Union Pt., thence Glacier Pt., in time for lunch. In the afternoon visit Sentinel Dome, and return to Glacier Pt. Hotel. Remain there over night.
Fourth Day.—Head of Nevada Fall, Little Yosemite, Lost Caņon, and Casa Nevada.
Directions:—Provide a lunch that can be carried on the saddle. Ride by Echo Wall trail to the head of Nevada Fall, and cross the river, continuing on until the Cloud’s Rest trail is entered. Turn to the right up the Cloud’s Rest trail and follow it until it leaves the river. There take the little Yosemite trail and follow it up to and through a fence that runs across the Valley. Continue up the Little Yosemite Valley, keeping the river (Merced) on the right hand, to the Silver Chain Cascade. Pass the Cascade and follow trail to Lost Valley. At the upper end of Lost Valley is another Fall worthy of a visit, known as the Gibraltar Cascade.
Returning, follow-back the same trail by which the ascent was made, and, passing by the turn-off to the head of the Nevada Fall to Snow’s (Casa Nevada), at the foot of that Fall. Remain there over night.
Fifth Day.—Cloud’s Rest and return to Valley by Vernal Fall.
Directions:—Same as for second day of No. 9, omitting, however, the visit to head of Nevada Fall. See also No. 4.
No. 17—Alternate.—First Afternoon. Lower Round Drive, as in No. 10.
Second Day.—Eagle Peak or Yosemite Point, as in No. 10.
Third Day.—Cloud’s Rest and return to Casa Nevada.
Directions:—Same as for third day of No. 13.
Fourth Day.—Head of Nevada Fall, Little Yosemite and Lost Valleys, and return to hotel in Yosemite Valley.
Directions:—Provide a lunch to be carried with the party, Take trail passing up by Nevada Fall, (Cloud’s Rest Trail); turn off to head of Fall at the first side trail. There is a sign-board at the turn-off. After visiting head of Nevada Fall return to Cloud’s Rest trail and continue up it until it leaves the river; there take the Little Yosemite trail. (See fourth day in No. 16.) From Little Yosemite return to hotel in Yosemite Valley.
Fifth Day.—Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome.
Directions:—Same as in No. 3. See Note to same. But lunch at Glacier Point, and in the afternoon visit Sentinel Dome.
No. 18—Alternate.—First Afternoon. Lower Round Drive or Mirror Lake.
Directions:—Same as in first afternoon of No. 10; or drive to Mirror Lake by way of Glacier and Tissaack avenues, returning by way of the foot of Yosemite Falls.
Second Day.—Lake Tenayah by Eagle Peak trail.
Directions:—Provide a lunch to be carried on saddle, and make an early start, having engaged horses on the preceding day. Ride to Eagle Peak trail, and follow directions given for second day of No. 10, as far as the forks, there mentioned, of the trails to Eagle Peak and Tenayah. Take the right hand trail, which in about five miles leads to a wagon road. The trail is “blazed”—that is, there are marks chopped on the trees—but the path is in places difficult to follow, unless by experienced mountain travelers. (A guide is indispensable on this tour to the ordinary visitor.) The trail crosses Yosemite Creek shortly after leaving the forks above mentioned. Between three and four miles further on it crosses the lower end and runs along the edge of a meadow or flat called Deer Park, keeping in the timber by the meadow until near the upper end. Then a rocky ridge has soon to be crossed, and a visitor without a guide must here be watchful of the trail and the “blazes,” as the former is likely to be much obscured by sheep trails. After crossing this ridge one comes to Porcupine Flat. and, crossing a small creek, arrives at the wagon road. Keeping to the right, this road leads to Lake Tenayah. Here the traveler will find accommodation for the night at Murphy’s. Distance from Valley to Tenayah, sixteen miles.
Third Day.—To Cloud’s Rest and Nevada Falls.
Directions:—Instruct guide to take Murphy’s short trail to Cloud’s Rest. This trail is seldom followed, and some of the guides may not be conversant with it., but they can be directed by Mr. Murphy to it.
From Cloud’s Rest descend to Snow’s Hotel at the Nevada Fall, visiting the head of that Fall before descending to the hotel at the foot.
Fourth Day—Little Yosemite and back to Valley by Vernal Fall.
Directions:—As for fourth day of No. 16.
Fifth Day.—Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome.
Directions:—Same as in No. 3, but lunch at Glacier Point, and in the afternoon visit Sentinel Dome and return to Valley. Or, as in Note to No. 3.
Note.—This tour has not often been made as here arranged, but is one of the most comprehensive and satisfactory possible in the time given. It involves no hard riding, the ride from the Valley to Tenayah being the longest for one day. Such toilet articles as are needed may readily be carried on the saddle.
Five Days and a Half.
No. 19—Same throughout as No. 18, except on day after arrival at Lake Tenayah make the ascent of Mount Hoffmann and return to Murphy’s at Lake Tenayah, remaining there a second night. For Mt. Hoffmann see chapter on the High Sierra.
Six Days and a Half.
No. 20—Same throughout as No. 19, except on second day after arrival at Lake Tenayah, ride up to Soda Springs, on the Tuolumne Meadows, returning to Murphy’s and remaining there a third night. For Soda Springs and Tuolumne Meadows see chapter on the High Sierra.
Next: 9. Camping Tours • Contents • Previous: 7. Big Tree Groves