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Recommendation for 3 day hikes

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Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby Randy31 » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:02 pm

My brother and I are both from the East Coast and are planning a trip to the Yosemite area next June/July to do some hiking. I would love to hear from the experts on this site what they would recommend if you only had time to do 3 days of hiking, all day trips. Our interests are scenery, woods, lakes. Prefer low crowds, but recognize that may be difficult. Also would be interested in some variety to get a full experience of the area. Willing to drive if needed.

We are both in decent shape, have done some hiking/backpacking in the past but not what I would call experienced hikers. To give you a reference point, on our last trip we hiked across the Grand Canyon from the south to north rims camping at Bright Angel and Cottonwood. Since we will only have day packs doing 10-15 miles or so a day is not an issue even with some elevation changes. Obviously need a loop or transporation back to the starting point.

Also, one other option we were considering was doing a organized/group back packing trip. thought this might be better since we are not familar with the area. Saw this, http://www.yosemitepark.com/Activities_HikingCamping_OvernightBackpackingTrips.aspx . Any one have any opinions if these are any good.

So, 1. what are your top 3 day hike recomendations and 2. are the group hikes any decent. I greatly appreciate all advice. Sorry if I violated any protocol on this site, first time here. Great site and some wonderful TRs. I wish I lived a lot closer.

Thanks
Randy



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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby markskor » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:23 pm

Hi Randy...welcome to HST.

With your lack of backpacking gear situation, I would look into the HSC's, maybe doing two or three of these established facilities and seeing the backcountry overnight without hauling it all yourself. With your day packs, all you have to do is carry your clothes.
You could easily start in Tuolumne, do Voglesang one night (~7 miles), then Merced (~10) the next, exiting down to the Valley on the third day (12 miles). The food is great, the alloted sleeping quarters are adequate and comfy, and the crowds you dread will be almost non-existant. Other than the masses of the Valley, Yosemite is a big place and even though you would see some people on the well-marked trails, (more as you approach the Half Dome segment), you will have the days mostly to yourself.
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby Randy31 » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:40 pm

Thanks for the reply Mark. I did look at those, but I was under the impression you needed to get your request in before Nov 1(?) to get reservations and that they are all full already. Am I missing something?
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby oldranger » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:08 pm

Randy

For day hikes you can't beat Tuolume Meadows. Depending on the snowfall you might have the opportunity in mid june to see waterwheel falls at or near their best. Not to mention a dozen or so other alternatives. The shuttle bus provides opportunities for some semi-loop trips, too.

As for the High Sierra camps check out the website after January 1. I think they will post available dates then.

Mike
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby balzaccom » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:13 pm

My favorite day hikes in Yosemite:

1. If you haven't ever done the Vernal Falls/Nevada Falls/Panorama Trail /FourMile Trail, you owe it to yourself to do that one. Start early, so you miss most of the tourist traffic.

2. Cloud's Rest from Olmstead Point. A better hike than Half Dome, and better views from the top. You don't have to wait in line, and you can look down on Half Dome when you get there.

3. May Lake and Mt Hoffman...also for the views. Amazing.

Are there others? You bet. Here's a link to our webpage that lists all sorts of hikes in Yosemite. It might be fun to give yourself a day in the car with some shorter hikes. In one day we did the Polly Dome Lakes Hike, Mono Lake, and Gaylor Lakes. All are great, fascinating locations, with stunning beaty...

Here's the link: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home/d ... tioga-pass
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby cahiker » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:30 pm

If you're interested in High Sierra Camps, try calling on the day they release all the dates not paid for by lottery winners. They also release cancellations periodically so it's worth checking back later. A friend lucked out a couple of years ago and I used one of her extra spots. All the camps are in spectacular settings and are very well run (good food, hot drinks before breakfast and dinner, suggestions of where to see the sunrise, campfires and talks on some nights).
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodati ... Apply.aspx

You can also have a great time car camping or staying in Curry Village. Probably the most popular day hike is Half Dome. I think it's one of the most spectacular hikes ever and love dangling my legs off the edge and hiking the Mist trail. Waiting in line for the cables can remind you of Disneyland though. You won't find any solitude during daylight hours, even on week days. If you leave before dawn and hike fast you can keep ahead of the crowds and thunderstorms but that's probably the best you can do without an overnight.

Clouds Rest is also a great hike as already mentioned.

If you want to see the valley without actually being in it I recommend hiking to Taft Fissures/Point and Sentinel Dome. It's mostly a loop and you'll hike along the rim part of the way and get great views of El Cap, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, etc. This one is shorter (~6 miles) so it could be good for the day you arrive or leave.
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/glacierhikes.htm
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby The Other Tom » Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:53 am

Randy31 wrote: I wish I lived a lot closer.

Randy

Yeah, you and me both :nod: I've fallen in love with the high sierra over the years.
Regarding recommendations, I would agree with what everyone else said, and add that you might want to check out Mosquito Flats/Little lakes valley. You could stay at Rock Creek Resort. If you've never been to Yosemite, you should go there first.
Where on the east coast are you located ?
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby maverick » Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:53 pm

Hi Randy31

Welcome to HST.
Depending on the severity of the El Nino this year access to the Tuolumne Meadows
area may not be possible in June, but it is way to early to know.
Out of the valley the Half Dome hike is the classic must do hike to a lot of people
which is 17 miles round trip and 4800 ft elevation gain, so you better be in good
shape before attempting this hike.
If you have problem with heights then this hike is not for you.
Do not attempt this hike if there are thunderstorms or rain in the area, get an early
start 4 am or so to beat the afternoon thunderstorms.
Make sure you have plenty of water and food.
This hike includes Vernal and Nevada Falls which are very pretty.
Upper Yosemite Falls is a 7.2 mile hike and very pretty.
Eagle Peak is a great hike 13.5 miles with great views, but snow may make this
hike unsafe.
You will be able to visit several falls while in the valley which make June
a good time to visit.
Get up early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and go to the meadows to watch
the animals in the morning mist, and the sunrise, before all the campers wake up
and the tourist buses invade the calm.
If Tioga Road is open, and snow is not an issue then Clouds Rest from the Sunrise
Lakes Trailhead, a 14 mile hike, is a must!
Clouds Rest has the best views in all the park, and has a trail to it, making it a must
for anyone who enjoys hiking, and loves expansive views.
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby adam » Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:26 pm

Just 3 day hikes for all of yosemite is quite a challenge, but here would be my (>3) suggestions, based largely on the idea that there are three special things about yosemite: sequoias, the valley, and the high country.

If you've never seen giant sequoias, go to the mariposa grove with time to hike well into the upper grove which is the nicest part-- I think if you really explore everwhere, it's close to 10 miles in a figure 8 returning to the parking lot. During high season, they run these dopey open air buses on roads through the park, but I think if you go later in the day, you can at least have the return trip without these. It's not at all big mountain scenery, but it's is amazing. Be aware that it's about a 60-90 min drive from the valley to get to the mariposa grove trail head.

A nice high country loop trip is to leave from Tolumne meadows up Lyell canyon to the Ireland Creek trail to vogelsang high sierra camp, then back via the raferty creek trail for a triangular loop. the first leg of this trip is a nearly flat walk up a meadowy glaciated canyon. The middle leg (Ireland creek) steady uphill through the forest, and then the upper point (evelyn lake and voglesang high sierra camp) a beautiful subalpine meadow and lake area. The trip down raferty creek is more subalpine meadow giving way to granite benches and lodgepole pine forest. It's been a long time since I've done this loop, and I think it might be a bit more than your 15 mile limit, but it's nice. If you come in June and there's still snow on the ground, you might get lucky and have the high sierra camp yet to open. If not, it's a bit of a jolt to have hiked several hours and then run in to the alpine zoo up there.

Another beautiful loop in this area that is much shorter but involves a bit of (easy) cross country is to go up the Budd lake non-trail (this branches off from the cathedral lake trail that leaves from Tolumne meadows. it's not marked or official, but it's in the guidebooks and is plain as day on the gound). Unlike the official trails in the area, this is more of a singletrack foot path, rather than constructed horse highway, and it stays relatively close to budd creek. It goes ~3.5 miles to Budd lake. To continue to Cathedral lake, backtrack a few hundred yards, and look for a little side path marked with a duck going towards the obvious saddle with cathedral peak. even if you don't see the path, just head for the saddle-- it's easy, open, pretty travelling. The saddle itself is broad and open, then you go down open forests and slabby granite to Cathedral lake, which is beautifully nestled under cathedral peak. This is ~3+ miles via the john muir trail back to your starting point (this is the trail that you left earlier to head to budd lake). Cathedral is a great place to watch the alpenglow on the peak and reflections on the lake, and the trail back is so big and obvious that it's easy to follow back with a headlight if you were to stay and watch the sunset. I'm not sure what the total milage on this trip would be, but <10, and with the exception of the last bit through the forest at the bottom of the cathedral trail, most of it is in really scenic terrain.

People criticize the Valley for the crowds, which can be immense, but it's a truely unique, special place-- the big trees, high mountains, etc... can all be found other places, but not the valley. the mist trail, up past vernal and nevada falls, is often crowded, and it's paved for the first mile or two because it's so high use, but all these caveats aside, it's spectacular. One way that you can make this into a figure 8 rather than an out and back is to go up the mist trail, then return via the panaroma tral, and before crossing the footbridge below vernal fall, look to your left below the bathrooms to hit the horse trail back, which takes you back along the other side of the river, through a swampy area, past a big water tank, and then back to the happy isles nature center where you started. This isn't marked on most trail maps, but is on the topos.
--another option would be to continue up to glacier point. From here, you can ride a shuttle bus back to the valley (or walk the 4-mile trail back down).
--a third option, which I would do if it were me, is to go up the mist trail to the top of nevada fall, and spend any extra time and energy scrambling around up Liberty cap, the giant dome that towers above you there. See:
http://www.summitpost.org/view_object.p ... _id=151618
--a fourth variation on the mist trail is to go up the abandoned trail up to Sierra Point. note that this leaves from the paved "official" trail to vernal fall, NOT the horse trail I mentioned above. See here for directions: http://www.summitpost.org/route/160150/ ... point.html

People often talk about climbing Half Dome as the hike to do if you're in yosemite. I strongly disagree-- the beginning (the mist trail) is nice, and the end, going up half dome, is spectacular, but in between is a long boring slog. But if you really want to be on top, then I guess it's worth it. As previus posts noted, clouds rest is a better view (all the same big views, but including Half Dome!), nicer hike, and not the same crowds. One option, also taking advantage of the various shuttle busses, would be to go from the sunrise trailhead to clouds rest and then half dome, finishing via the mist trail into the valley. I'm not sure how long this would be-- probably closer to 20 than 15 miles-- and the ideal way to start, say at 4am, probably isn't feasable with the suttle busses, but it might be worth looking into. I also think it's hard to really appreciate how crowded half dome can be in the middle of the day-- see:
http://www.summitpost.org/image/330948/ ... rowds.html
the best way to avoid this, and be up on top when it's nice light in the morning, is to either hike through the night or camp en route.

In terms of crowds: The high country trails (lyell canyon-raferty loop, budd lake, cathedral, clouds rest) will have other people on them, but hardly "crowds". The cross-country section between budd and cathedral would likely be just you and perhaps the distant yells of the climbers on Cathedral Peak. The mist trail is mellow early in the morning, and not so bad up past the top of vernal fall, but in the middle of the day and afternoon is truely crowded from Happy Isles to Vernal Fall. Scrambling on Liberty cap or Sierra POint would likely be just you. In the Mariposa grove, you're unlikely to ever be alone, but it's not exactly crowded-- but I've never been there when the busses are running.

Note that among the other hassles of a crowded park is that it can be difficult to get campground reservations. While **I** would obviusly never condone illicit behavior, a less constrained would-be car camper willing to walk a few hundred yards with their stuff could always cook dinner at a picnic area and then crash at the Tolumne Meadows or Yos. Valley backpackers camp with the excuse that you just arrived and are going to get a wilderness permit at the ranger station when they open the next morning. Although after dinner you'd be unlikely to see any ranger there anyway.
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby adam » Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:31 pm

PS- if you do want to go up half dome, bring a pair of leather work gloves for the steel cables. seriously-- it's worth it. there's a pile of old ones at the base of the cables, but most don't have palms anymore.
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby Randy31 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:47 am

All,
Thank you for all the information. This is great and very helpful. Being from PA I do not get a chance to be out that way too often. I did visit Yosemite with my family several years ago, but did the standard stuff by car. Young kids and a wife that does not have the same passion for hiking beyond a paved 1-2 mile trail kept me from doing any hiking too exciting that time. But intent has always been to go back.

I will probably come back with additional questions once I get a chance to go through all the input.

Thanks again
Randy
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Re: Recommendation for 3 day hikes

Postby Markr » Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:59 pm

If you camp at Toulumne Mdws you can easily access Mono Pass and Parker Pass. There are a number of beautiful views and it is real high country. Go outside the park to Saddlebag lake and go into the lake basin at the North end. Not to be missed. There are some twenty lakes and it is surrounded by high peaks. No real trails, just wander around as you please.
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