One Hundred Hikes in Yosemite

Trails of the Tuolumne Meadows Area, north of the Tioga Road
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Introduction: Although this section generally describes trails lying north and west of Tuolumne Meadows, it also describes two that extend beyond this regional area. Hike 40, the High Sierra Camps Loop trail, wanders more than half of its length in the country south of the Tioga Road, and Hike 42, the northbound Pacific Crest Trail, goes through the Park and then winds over to Sonora Pass. Hike 42, at 72 miles, is the longest one described in this guide; Hike 38, at about 1/2 mile, is the shortest. Between these two extremes you'll find a hiking length ideal for you as you explore this subalpine wonderland. This section's highlights are too numerous to mention. Of all its hikes, only Hike 37 would not receive a spectacular rating. Ragged peaks, crystal-clear lakes, glaciated domes, long canyons and roaring cascades await the High Sierra hiker here.

Supplies and Services: Information, guide books, natural-history books and topographic maps are available at the Tuolumne Meadows Information Center, which is 7 1/2 miles northeast up the Tioga Road from the Tenaya Lake trailhead-parking area and an even 8 miles southwest down the road from Tioga Pass. Just under one mile east of the center are useful facilities, which west-to-east are: a dump station for RVs, a service station, a mountaineering school and sports shop, and a store, cafe, and post office. Just beyond the last of these is the Tuolumne Meadows Campground entrance, and just beyond it is a bridge across the Tuolumne River. Immediately past it is a road branching left (west) to the Tuolumne Meadows Stable, which offers horseback rides ranging from several hours to several days.

Those wanting to stay in the Tuolumne Meadows area in a rustic style should stay at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. To reach it, drive 0.6 mile northeast on the Tioga Road from the campground entrance, then turn right on the lodge's spur road and follow it to its end. Accommodations at the lodge consist of canvas tents on wooden platforms. Breakfast and dinner are served here, and you can get them without being a guest. On weekends, however, reserve your spot at the dinner table early in the day. Showers are also available; inquire at the office.

Just 2 miles outside the park, you'll find the Tioga Pass Resort, with some supplies, meals and lodging-an alternative to the crowded Tuolumne Meadows area. This resort is usually open to travelers from late May until mid-October. Most of the Tuolumne Meadows facilities are open for a shorter duration, usually from mid-June until mid-September. The Tuolumne Meadows Campground and the Information Center stay open a few weeks longer. All-year services are available in Lee Vining, just north of the Tioga Road's (Highway 120's) junction with Highway 395. This town is about 19 1/2 miles from the Tuolumne Meadows Campground.

Wilderness Permits: If you want to reserve a permit in advance, rather than get one in person, see the "Wilderness permits" section. In person, get your permit at a booth in the parking lot a short way down the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge spur road. From late June through the Labor Day weekend this booth is open on Friday nights, and it opens as early as 6 a.m. on Saturdays. After the Labor Day weekend, get your permits at the Information Center.

Campgrounds: For Hike 37, camp at Porcupine Flat Campground (see Hike 33 trailhead directions), west of Tenaya Lake. This campground is also ideal for Hikes 47, 48, and 49. For the remaining hikes, camp at large Tuolumne Meadows Campground, whose entrance is just southwest of the Tuolumne River bridge. You may also want to try equally full Tioga Lake and Junction campgrounds, just outside the Park below Tioga Pass.

Click here to go to the complete trail listing for the Tuolumne Meadows Area, north of the Tioga Road (Hikes 37-46)


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 3 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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