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Hiking Trip Yosemite National Park Hiking Tour Challenging

Dates: 9/24 - 30

(7 days, 6 nights)

Assembly Point: Lee Vining, CA

(airline service to Fresno; Timberline van shuttle between Fresno and Yosemite prior to and following tour)

Meeting time: hotel 8:30am Drop off time: 4pm

Tour Cost: $2,775

(includes all lodging, all meals, park entrance fees, leaders, van shuttles between Fresno and Yosemite, trail maps & narratives)

Additional Single Occupancy Lodging Cost: $433

Inn Highlights

  • Murphy's
  • Yosemite Lodge


John Muir, America’s greatest environmentalist, devoted much of his adult life battling for thepreservation and protection of our greatest natural icons.  He was instrumental in the establishment of several of our national parks and a moving force in the creation of the National Park Service.  He spent the final years of his life locked in a losing fight to save Yosemite’s magnificent Hetch Hetchy Valley from obliteration by the construction of a dam and reservoir in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River intended to serve San Francisco’s need for water and power.

One of the founding members of the Sierra Club and its first president, Muir led the battle to save Hetch Hetchy from 1909 until Congress ultimately approved the project in 1913.  One year later, on Christmas Eve, 1914, John Muir died.  The official cause of death was listed as pneumonia, but most believed that this fierce warrior died of a broken heart.  The O’Shaughnessy Dam was completed in 1923, and the impounded waters of the Tuolumne buried one of our nation’s natural and spiritual treasures.

Perhaps not quite as visually dramatic as Yosemite Valley, with its overpowering granite monoliths like Half Dome and El Capitan, Hetch Hetchy, because of its more isolated location, offered Yosemite’s visitors an incomparable contrast to the hustle and bustle of Yosemite Valley. For this reason, Muir always thought of Hetch Hetchy as Yosemite’s heart and soul---its spiritual core.

The truth is, we at Timberline, from day one when we introduced our inaugural Yosemite National Park hiking tour, never lost sight of the reality that we were missing an essential component and always treated our project as an incomplete work in progress.  We’ll at last turn that page in 2014 because our Yosemite Hiking Tour is going to Hetch Hetchy!  In the season ahead, we’ll continue to explore the wonders of Yosemite, its giant sequoias, dramatic waterfalls, deep glacier-carved canyons, snowclad Sierra peaks and magnificent domes, and now Hetch Hetchy itself.

What now has become a 7-day program will assemble in Fresno and we’ll shuttle into Yosemite early morning of Day 1.  We’ll pause within the park to hike to beautiful May Lake at the base of Mt. Hoffman, one of Muir’s first mountain ascents. We’ll spend our first of three nights on the shore of Mono Lake in Lee Vining and devote our next two hikes to the Tuolumne Meadows region of the park.  We’ll shuttle over Tioga Pass to the Meadows on Day 2 and hike along the beautiful Tuolumne River to Tuolumne Falls.  We’ll descend from the falls along the river and enjoy a picnic on the rocks at river’s edge at the base of the falls and the portal to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne before returning to our trailhead. Day 3, we’ll hike from Dana Meadows to historic Mono Pass with its incredible views of the Sierra crest and Blood Canyon as well as Mono Lake and the high desert of the Great Basin east of the Sierra.  Dinner at the Mobil gas station on this evening is one for the ages---an essential ingredient of every Yosemite experience.

On Day 4, we’re off for what well may be the park’s most spectacular viewpoint as we challenge the Sunrise Trail that ultimately will lead to the Clouds Rest Summit, just shy of 10,000’.  Clouds Rest is substantially higher than better-known Half Dome, safer to climb without the terrifying drop-offs for which Half dome is famous, and, most importantly, far less crowded with significantly better vies of the park. Following the Clouds Rest hike, we’re headed for Oak Flat, gateway to Hetch Hetchy, where we’ll spend our next two overnights.

Day 5, today is a day to enjoy Yosemite Valley!  First thing on our agenda is Mirror Lake. Wedged between the granite walls of Half Dome and North Dome on the east end of Yosemite Valley, there is an enticing body of water that reflects the beauty around it. Mirror Lake, which is not actually a lake but rather a shallow seasonal pool, is famous for its reflective beauty. The serene surface mirrors the surrounding rocks and trees, along with the blue skies above, to deliver a delightful venue for a hike.  After lunch, there are many options to explore the valley.

Glacier Point-to-Happy Isle Trail, considered to be among the park’s most scenic hikes, is our plan for Day 6.  We’ll begin our hike from Glacier Point along the dramatic Panorama Trail with its countless breathtaking views of the massive domes---Half Dome, Liberty Cap and clouds Rest---for which Yosemite is famous.  Early on, we’ll also capture outstanding views of Nevada and Vernal Falls, cross Illilouette Falls and then climb to Panorama Point and its awesome view of Yosemite Falls in the distance.  We’ll next descend to the Merced River to the very brink of Nevada Fall.  The Mist Trail, as it descends along the face of Vernal Fall, is our route to the Yosemite Valley floor at Happy Isles. We’ll spend our final night in the heart of the valley at the Yosemite Lodge, and we’ll arrive early enough to turn everyone loose to explore Yosemite Village.

Wawona Meadows and the Swinging Bridge loop is one of Yosemite’s often-overlooked gems, especially for wildflower lovers. This is our planned hike for Day 7.  For a bonus we will cross a the south fork of the Merced river on a swinging bridge that actually swings, unlike its counterpart in Yosemite Valley. You don't need that much imagination to test your Indiana-Jones-and-the-Temple-of-Doom chops here. We start hiking from the historic Wawona hotel, so add a bit of Yosemite heritage to the mix. A grand last day!


Day 1 Group assembles at Yosemite National Park (van shuttle from Fresno)
May Lake Hike
3 miles
Day 2 Tuolumne Meadows-Tuolumne River-Tuolumne Falls-Glen Aulin 12 miles
Day 3 Dana Meadows - Mono Pass 11 miles
Day 4 Clouds Rest 14 miles
Day 5 Mirror Lake - Tenaya Canyon 4.2 + 4 miles
Day 6 Panorama Trail: Glacier Point – Illilouette Falls-Panorama Point—Mist Trail--Nevada
and Vernal Falls—Happy Isle
9 miles
Day 7 Wanona Meadows and Swing Brady; return to Fresno 4.8 miles

Total hiking mileage: 62

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Routes, mileage and accommodations are subject to change due to safety, road/trail conditions, weather and availability.