Days: 5 Days
Distance: 35 miles/56km
Difficulty: Intermediate +
Origin: Half Dome Village, Yosemite National Park
Yosemite hiking is all about big mountains, towering waterfalls, massive granite domes, crystal clear mountain streams and camping next to pristine lakes. And that is exactly what this hike delivers. The starting point for this exciting Yosemite backpacking adventure is in the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows on a stretch of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. We climb high into the alpine country past Vogelsang Peak and descend to Merced Lake before climbing high again, above the epic Merced River gorge as it slices through Echo Valley. The days will be spent crossing mountain streams, trekking over high alpine passes, circumnavigating mountains, camping in pristine wilderness and eventually summiting Half Dome via the exciting Cable Route. This trek certainly has it all and will challenge the fit hiker looking to experience some outstanding mountain scenery in the High Sierra.
This epic Yosemite hiking tour will start with the group meeting Half Dome Village at a predetermined time. After getting organized, we will catch a hiker shuttle to the trailhead located in the Tuolumne Meadows area. The trek starts out following the Tuolumne River to the junction of Rafferty Creek. Passing through open meadows, the wildflowers here can be amazing. We’ll work our way up to and over Tuolumne Pass (10,000 feet) and make our first night’s camp alongside one of the half dozen lakes surrounding Rafferty and Vogelsang peaks. Your guide will set up camp and cook the first of many delicious meals.
Shuttle: 2.5 hours
Distance & Elevation: 7.5 miles, 1500 foot ascent
We will start our morning with some fresh coffee and a filling breakfast prepared by your guide. Shortly after that, we will pack up camp and get back to hiking some of Yosemite’s best alpine terrain. Within the first 2 miles, we pass the idyllic Emeric Lake. Then our trail begins to head downhill, eventually dropping 2000 feet. Enjoy views towards the Clark Range and Red Peak. Camp will be made near Merced Lake, with some time left in the afternoon to visit the lake or just kick back and relax.
Distance & Elevation: 8 miles, 2000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After a fabulous night’s rest, we will pack up and continue with our journey towards Half Dome. The Merced River cascades down the granite slopes in grand fashion beyond the lake. We will make our way up the ‘High Trail’ above Echo Valley and Lost Valley, 1500 feet below and formed by the Merced River. The views throughout are fantastic so keep your cameras at-the-ready. Camp will be made along Sunrise Creek.
Distance & Elevation: 7.5 miles, ~1000 foot ascent/descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Arise before dawn and after an early breakfast, the group will begin its trek towards Yosemite’s most famous hike: the summit of Half Dome. We will travel without backpacks. En route, we will take in views of Basket Dome, North Dome and Clouds Rest, as we work our way up Sub Dome to the base of the cables. The trail is steep and demanding but the views in the early morning are unforgettable. We will break at Sub Dome, catch our breaths, and enjoy a snack. From here, we will begin our climb up The Cables where you will gain the final 400 feet to the top of Half Dome. Enjoy the 360 degree panorama stretching from El Capitan to the colorful Clark Range and everything in between. This is a truly remarkable location to spend some time. After resting and soaking in the views, we will retrace our steps back to camp. From here we will continue on the historic John Muir Trail to the Little Yosemite Valley and the Merced River for our last night.
Distance/Elevation: 9 miles, 2000 foot ascent/ 2500 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
*Notes about climbing Half Dome- The Cable Route is not for everyone. It is extremely exposed and steep and those with a fear of heights will NOT enjoy it. However, summiting Half Dome is not required and the views from Sub Dome are also spectacular! Those choosing not to summit can wait at Sub Dome and enjoy the sights until the rest of the group returns.
After another night under the star filled sky, we will enjoy one last breakfast in the wilderness before packing up camp. The hike out will follow the historic John Muir Trail back to the valley. This route winds through beautiful forest along the opposite the side of the Merced River, affording equally stunning views as our hike up on the first day. We will arrive back at the parking area to sort through our gear before car-pooling back to Half Dome Village for a final lunch and fond farewells.
Distance/Elevation: 5.5 miles/2000 foot descent
*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.
- A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
- All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
- All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your guide will prepare all meals)
- All meals from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on the last day + trail snacks
- Backcountry permits and fees
What’s Not Included:
- Transportation to/from Yosemite National Park
- Lodging the night before/after the trip
- Clothing, raingear, and footwear
- Personal toiletries, sunscreen
- Water bottles/hydration bladder
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet
How many people are in the group?
Most trips in Yosemite will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 12 people plus 2 guides.
Are there age restrictions?
Children under the age of 13 are generally not permitted on regularly scheduled trips. This restriction may be negotiable on private tours. Please contact us with any questions regarding this policy.
How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation, we require an initial deposit of $250 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.
Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-877-272-5032
Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in Yosemite National Park. You will want to fly into San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, or Reno. You will need to arrange your own transportation from airports to the park. In most cases, renting a car is your easiest and best option. Please visit our Travel Resources page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.
Where do meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 5:00pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the at a pre-arranged location inside the park. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation. Most trips will depart between 7am and 9am.
What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
On the first morning of your trip, you will follow your guide to the long-term parking area where you can leave your car and personal belongings for the duration of the hike. You can also check with your hotel to see if they are willing to store your luggage for you while you hike.
What time will we get back on the last day?
Most trips end at lunchtime on the last day of the trip. If you are considering flying home on the last day of the trip, you should be finished up around 2pm. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.
August: 2-6, 18-22, 31- Sept 4
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-877-272-5032 or email us for details.
When booking your Yosemite Backpacking Tour, make sure that you book out at least 4+ months in advance due to Grand Canyon National Park’s permit system. Backpacking permits are issued on the first of the month 4 months in advance (i.e. Jan 1 for all of May, Feb 1 for June, Mar 1 for July…etc.)