Note that trail heads along Tioga Road are accessible only on snowshoes or cross-country skis in winter, as the road is usually closed due to snow from November until June.
Chilnualna Lakes/Buena Vista Peak Loop
Although rather difficult, this trek is satisfying, as it takes you from a stunning waterfall through meadows and forests to some lovely lakes. The first day's hike is 8 miles, to Chilnualna Falls, one of the park's tallest falls outside the valley. It's a strenuous climb up. The bottom fall tumbles down a narrow chute, and 50 feet up is yet another fall; the combination can be quite a vision in spring with a strong winter runoff. Above the falls, the trail ascends via switchbacks up a gorge to a junction. One route will lead through forests toward Bridalveil Campground, the other toward Chilnualna Lakes. Take the Chilnualna Lakes route. Just below this junction are several nice places to camp overnight. There are also a number of nearby swimming holes. From here, it's a climb along the headwaters of the creek to a set of high-altitude lakes. About 2.5 miles up is Grouse Lake Creek. This can be a tough cross during high water, and the rock is very slick, so be careful. Head north (left) for about 0.5 miles after the crossing toward Turner Meadows. At the next junction, head right (east) toward Chilnualna Lakes, about 5 miles away. Buena Vista Peak rises above the lakes. Campsites are plentiful in this area. From the lakes, head up into 9,040-foot Buena Vista Pass. At the pass, head south on Buena Vista Trail toward Royal Arch Lake. The next junction goes right (west) toward Johnson, Crescent, and Grouse lakes. After Grouse Lake is the Grouse Lake Creek crossing and the return trail to Chilnualna Falls and the parking area.
28.5 miles/4 days. Moderate to strenuous. Take CA 41 to Wawona in Yosemite National Park. Turn east on Chilnualna Rd. and stay on this road for about 1 1/3 miles until you reach "The Redwoods," where the road ends. This is the trail head.
Ten Lakes Trail
The trail is well marked and picturesque, with lots of rocks to climb around on and several lakes for swimming. The trail offers some great fishing for brook and rainbow trout. Mosquitoes can be a major deterrent here in summer, however. Backpackers camp at the designated campground at May Lake or in an undeveloped spot at least a quarter-mile from the shore. There are numerous places to camp, so it's best to discuss options with a ranger.
12.6 miles/2 days. Moderate. On CA 120 east, pass the White Wolf Campground to the trail-head parking lot, just before a bridge and Yosemite Creek sign. The trail head is on the north side of the road.
Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadows along the John Muir Trail
This high-altitude climb offers visitors a weekend getaway that leaves flatlanders breathless and displays some of the eastern Sierra's most pristine beauty. Be warned -- it's a real heart-thumper. You'll trek through Donohue Pass at 11,056 feet. From the pass, it's mostly downhill. Campers should discuss the numerous overnight options with a park ranger before heading out. You can return the way you came -- perhaps exploring the Vogelsang area on your way out -- or continue on the John Muir Trail to Red's Meadow near Mammoth and Devil's Postpile, or loop back into Yosemite over the truly strenuous switchbacks over 12,260-foot Koip Peak Pass.
28 miles/3 days. Strenuous. The trail head begins where the above hike (Ten Lakes Trail) ends, or take CA 120 to Tuolumne Meadows and the Dog Lake trail head parking area for the John Muir/Pacific Crest Trail/Lyell Fork hikes.
This hike approaches Yosemite Falls from behind and ends up at the same place as the Upper Yosemite Fall hike, without the steep climb up from the valley floor. After hiking 2 miles, you'll see the Yosemite Creek Campground. Hike through the campground to the Yosemite Falls Trail. In about 0.8 miles, you'll hit another junction. Head left (south) and hike for another 4 miles to Upper Yosemite Fall. The view from here is heart-stopping. The valley looks Lilliputian with its tiny lodges, people, and cars far below. The waterfall is surrounded by slick rock, so be careful, especially in wet conditions; it seems that every year someone slips over the edge into the abyss below. You can hike back the way you came, or head down the path to the valley if you've got a shuttle system set up or someone to take you back to your car. As with all overnight hikes, discuss camping options with a ranger before heading out.
17 miles/2 days. Moderate to strenuous. Take CA 120 east past the White Wolf Campground to the trail head, which is just before a bridge sign for Yosemite Creek. The trail head is on the south side of the highway.
Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows along the John Muir Trail
The trail is well marked and heads from the valley floor past Half Dome and then up to Cathedral Peak. Cathedral Lakes are nearby and worth a side trip. Camp at Tuolumne Meadows.
22 miles/2 days. Moderate to strenuous. The trail begins in the valley at the Happy Isles parking area.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.