This trail begins at Harden Lake and leads 12.5 miles northeastward. The trail crosses the Tuolumne River within its Grand Canyon. It can be used in conjunction with several other trails north of Tuolumne Meadows to create a long backpacking or stock packing trek.
To reach the Pate Valley Trail hikers can follow two routes. An abandoned road, closed to vehicles, leads northward west of White Wolf Campground to Harden Lake where the trail begins. The alternative is to walk eastward along a trail that lies south of White Wolf Campground to Lukens Lake Trail. Turn left at the trail junction and follow this route northward nearly three and a half miles to the Pate Valley Trail. Either route is relatively easy. The Lukens Lake Trail descends 800 feet using switchbacks before ending at the Pate Valley Trail.
From Harden Lake the Pate Valley Trail descends gently into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River. The route descends 400 feet in the first mile and a half to the Lukens Lake Trail. One mile from this junction the trail reaches Morrison Creek and begins to follow the stream. Pate Valley Trail follows Morrison Creek for one mile descending 1,200 feet and many switchbacks. After a mile the trail crosses the creek descending one half mile to the next drainage. The trail crosses the small creek and heads toward another set of switchbacks and the Tuolumne River.
Once on the valley floor hikers will enjoy two miles of level trail along the Tuolumne River. Near the end of this stretch is a river crossing and trail junction. There are several campsites along this level stretch some highly impacted and some secluded. This area is known as the Pate Valley and you've essentially reached your destination.
Continue hiking through the valley to some good campsites on the northern bank of the river. You'll cross two bridges that ford the Tuolumne River and reach a trail junction. This junction is slightly more than six miles from Harden Lake. The left side of the fork is the Pate Valley Trail. It climbs ardently five miles out of the Tuolumne River canyon to meet the Pleasant Valley Trail. The fork that leads right follows the Tuolumne River upstream 14.5 miles to Glen Aulin.
From the river valley the trail ascends steadily. It leads northeastward from the river crossing, moving more closely to the north branch of the Tuolumne River as it leaves the trail junction.
Directions: From Arch Rock Entrance, Travel northward along the Merced River to Old Big Oak Flat Road. Turn left on this road and travel 9.5 miles to Tioga Road. Turn right on Tioga Road and drive eastward to the turn off for White Wolf Campground. Park near the campground and begin your hike toward Harden Lake.
Elevation: 7,500 feet
Ending Elevation: 4,300 feet
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