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Bacpacking in Yosemite

Maryville, TN
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Bacpacking in Yosemite

We are trying to plan a trip out to Yosemite and it's always tough planning a trip to backpack when you've never been to the place your wanting to go. I've searched the web for ideas on good places to backpack but just haven't found much luck.

We are just looking for somewhere with great views and where we aren't camping in the forsest. We like to be in the open. Would like to say below 6,000 feet in elevation but mostly just want somewhere with great views and different places to be able to hike to from base camp.

Thanks for the help.

Menlo Park...
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1. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

I'm not the best person to give you advice since it's been years since I've packed out of Yosemite, but since you haven't had a response yet, I thought I'd start. Most packing at Yosemite is done out of the high country, elevation 8000+. You could travel some distance north out of Tuolumne Meadows to reach a lower elevation, and by then you'd be accustomed to the altitude so why bother.

If you are in the Valley you must stay in the established campgrounds, and aside from the Valley itself there are no distant views. You will need a permit to camp, and in the summer you will need advance reservations. Plus a tent or an RV to sleep in. No sleeping in your car. To leave the road overnight you will need a wilderness permit, and depending on your destination you may need to specify your destination so the campers are not crowded. You will encounter rangers and they will ask to see your permit. Once you leave Tuolumne to the north on the JMT, there is no lack of view and scenery. It's gorgeous silver granite country; too bad it has to have so many restrictions. Plus that $20 just to get into the Park. Have fun.

Washington State
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2. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

Below 6,000' is really a problem, especially if you want wide open views.

You can backpack in the Hetch Hetchy area. It's lower elevation (good!) but the hiking options are limited (bad.) There are some hikes described in Jeffrey Schaffer's book, "Yosemite NP, A Complete Hiker's Guide." wildernesspress.com/product.php… (Buy it cheap from on-line used bookstores.) I haven't backpacked in Hetch Hetchy because the high country hiking is so fabulous in the summer.

If you haven't ever been to Yosemite, most folks would advise you to focus on the frontcountry beauty for this trip. Camp in regular campgrounds (with reservations, if it's a reservable campground) and take day hikes. If you can't handle high elevations, then you'll miss out on some of the best hikes in the Park ... all of Tuolumne Meadows (Pothole Dome, Lyell Canyon, Glen Aulin, Gaylor Lakes, and on & on) and Glacier Point (Taft Point - Pohono Trail - Sentinel Dome.) But even if you stay below 6,000', you can see some nice places.

Try the Yosemite hikers forum as well, but you'll need to be much more specific before you start a thread over there. http://yosemitenews.info/forum/list.php?3

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

Most important is getting the wilderness permit -- which is very popular and there is a quota per trailhead.

See nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm

If quota has been met for the popular trailheads, it may be easier to reserve a permit for the national forests OUTSIDE Yosemite and hike your way in.

Washington State
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4. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

In my opinion, the most important thing is to choose an appropriate trail for your hiking group. If you Fax in a permit request today, that would be for June 5th. That's still too early in the season for most trails, so there is plenty of time to decide which trail or trails will suit your group. Then go for the second most important thing, getting the permit.

All hikes that begin in Yosemite Valley are extremely popular, and the one from Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley is probably the most popular trail.

But, with your desire for lower elevations, perhaps you should look at other places outside Yosemite as ALTippet suggested.

LA
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5. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

As above, the best of Yosemite, and most of the Sierras is well above 6,000 ft. More like 8,000 ft.

6,000 ft is about lake level at Lake Tahoe.

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

How many miles per day anf how many days do you normally like to do? Or did you want to just focus on hanging out enjoying the scenery. Elevation changes? Did you want something mostly level?

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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7. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

Lots of great backpacking in Yosemite -- too many to offer any concrete suggestions without a better understanding of what you're looking for, in terms of mileage, difficulty, etc.

I strongly second PNW's recommendation for Schaffer's book.

Online resources that I think are good are:

http://www.yosemitehikes.com/hikes.htm for trail descriptions

http://www.highsierratopix.com/community for questions/forums

Pay particular attention to the different conditions at various elevations depending on the time of year. Mosquitoes start at the lower elevations in early summer and move higher with the snow melt. Higher elevations will have snow, then floods, well into summer and can affect stream crossings.

Happy planning!

Edited: 2:00 pm, December 20, 2012
Fortaleza, CE
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8. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

I wouldn't focus just on Yosemite. Lots of great trails, and possibly with fewer people, in Kings Canyon-Sequoia National Parks, and national forests. Best backpaking trip I did (many years ago) was to Evolution Valley, west of Bishop. Started hiking at 9,500" and spent little time in forested areas, though if you want to void them entirely you'd have to stay high in altitude a lot (which can be tough if you're not in shape) or consider going to someplace like the White Mountains, which are desert peaks east of the Sierra but which also go up to over 14,000'. Most of the hiking I've done in open, Alpine areas was over 9,000'. The eastern Sierra are a bit drier than the west, so you might think of areaas near Highway 395, even far south of Yosemite. We once started a hiking trip near Independence at about 6,000'but gave up because it was so hot.

Staying below 6,000' will keep you in mainly forested areas in Yosemite, and with possibly some rather hot temps (when exercising a lot). There are lots of books on Yosemite, but first start with the park's Web site. Maybe also pick up "Starr's Guide to the High Sierra."

9. Re: Bacpacking in Yosemite

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