Leisurely Hikes in Yosemite

Tioga Road to Sunrise Camp
Distance: 16.8 miles.
Type: Out and back trip.
Best season: Mid or late.
Topo maps: Tuolumne Meadows, Tenaya Lake.
Grade (hiking days/ recommended layover days) :
Leisurely 4/1
Moderate 2/1
Strenuous 2/0.
Trailhead: Cathedral Lakes Trailhead (28).

This leg of the John Muir Trail is also known as the Sunrise Trail and is a justly famous and popular route on its own. Superlative views confront the traveler at every summit and oftentimes in between views of whole subranges in the distance as well as spectacular peaks nearby.

Trail Description (Leisurely trip)

1st Hiking Day. Follow the previous trail description to Upper Cathedral Lake, 3.7 miles.

2nd Hiking Day (Upper Cathedral Lake to Sunrise High Sierra Camp) 4.7 miles. Regain the John Muir Trail and follow it southward, up to Cathedral Pass, where the excellent views include Cathedral Peak, Tressider Peak, Echo Peaks, Matthes Crest, the Clark Range farther south, and Matterhorn Peak far to the north. Beyond the pass is a long, beautiful swale, the headwaters of Echo Creek, where the midseason flower show is alone worth the trip.

Alas, our Muir/Sunrise Trail doesn't descend into that swale but instead continues climbing gradually along Tressider Peak's east flank to the actual high point of this trail, at a marvelous viewpoint overlooking most of southern Yosemite National Park. The inspiring panorama includes the peaks around Vogelsang High Sierra Camp in the southeast, the whole Clark Range in the south, and the peaks on the Park border in both directions farther away. Then our high trail switchbacks quickly down to the head of the upper lobe of Long Meadow, levels off, and leads down a gradually sloping valley dotted with little lodgepole pines to the head of the second, lower lobe of l-o-n-g Long Meadow (may be dry by late season). Passing a junction with the trail down Echo Creek, this route continues its meadowy descent to the fair campsites along the stream at the south end of the meadow, past Sunrise High Sierra Camp, which is near the south end of the meadow, almost out of sight on a bench above and west of the trail. There are other well-used campsites south of the High Sierra Camp on the bench west of the meadow. The view east across Long Meadow toward rugged peaks hints at wonders as yet unseen.

3rd and 4th Hiking Days. Retrace your steps, 8.4 miles.

View: Overview Map

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 24 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »