On our six-day program we will assemble in Fresno and 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.
On 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 Nevada. Dinner at the Whoa Nellie Deli at the Mobil gas station in Lee Vining on this evening is one for the ages – an essential ingredient of every Yosemite experience.
On Day 4, we’re off for what may well 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 views of the park. Following the Clouds Rest hike, we’re headed for El Portal, western gateway to the park, where we’ll spend our next two overnights.
Glacier Point-to-Happy Isle Trail, considered to be among the park’s most scenic hikes, is our plan for Day 5. 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 6. For a bonus we will cross 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 Big Trees Lodge (formerly called the Wawona Hotel), to add a bit of Yosemite heritage to the mix. A grand last day!