One Hundred Hikes in Yosemite
Introduction: The land explored in this chapter is one of contrasts. Some of the trails in its low, western section are seldom used, while those in its high, eastern section are extremely popular. The reason for this is obvious: the lower areas tend to be hot in summer and devoid of spectacular scenery. They are best hiked in spring or fall, when the Tioga Road is closed, preventing access to the higher trails. The trails of this chapter cover the great altitude span, 8420 feet from 2430 feet early on the Preston Flat trail to 10,850 feet at Mt. Hoffmann's summit. Between these elevations you'll find all of the Park's seven plant communities, from Foothill Woodland to Alpine Fell-Fields. Only the trails south and east of the Glacier Point Road rival this altitude span, and that is only if you include all of the Alder Creek trail, most of which is outside the Park.
Supplies and Services: Absolutely everything you'll need for a Yosemite outdoor experience can be purchased in the western-foothills town of Sonora. This includes full backpacking and mountaineering gear, these available at the Sierra Nevada Adventure Company. This town also has several large grocery stores, numerous dining places, and two hospitals.
Groveland, about 24 miles west of the Park's Big Oak Flat Entrance Station, is the last town you'll pass on Highway 120; however, several resorts, gas stations, and campgrounds are found closer to the Park. Gas, meals, and lodging are found at Evergreen Lodge, on Evergreen Road just 0.6 mile before it ends at the Hetch Hetchy Road in Camp Mather (for San Francisco residents).
Once inside the Park you can find virtually anything you'll need-other than fuel-down in Yosemite Valley, but this is crowded and is out of your way. Should you need last-minute food or fuel, you can get them at Crane Flat. Fewer supplies are at White Wolf Lodge, the center for Hikes 20, 21, 22, and 23, though it offers breakfast and dinner.
Wilderness Permits: If you want to reserve a permit, rather than get one in person, see the "Wilderness Permits" section. In person, if you are driving east up Highway 120, get a permit at the Big Oak Flat Information Station, which is immediately past the Park's entrance station. Note that from about early April through late October you can get a permit at the Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station (by the Mather Ranger Station). You cannot get a permit in the White Wolf area. If you are driving up Highway 140 or 41, get your permit at the Visitor Center in Yosemite Valley, and if you are driving west down Highway 120, stop in Tuolumne Meadows (see the Tuolumne Meadows "Wilderness Permits" section).
Campgrounds: For Hikes 15, 16, and 17, you could spend the night at Dimond O Campground, about 5.6 miles north on Evergreen Road, which begins from Highway 120 just 0.6 mile before the Park's boundary below the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station. Within the Park you can stay at Hodgdon Meadow Campground, reached by turning left immediately after passing through the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station. This is good for Hikes 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19. Driving east on Highway 120, you'll reach another possibility, Crane Flat Campground, just 1/4 mile before Crane Flat. This is ideal for Hikes 18 and 19. Both these campgrounds are on a reservation system. After turning left at the flat's junction, you then drive 14.5 miles up the Tioga Road (Highway 120) to the White Wolf road. Opposite this road's White Wolf Lodge is the entrance to the White Wolf Campground, ideal for Hikes 20, 21, 22, and 23. Those taking Hikes 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28 can also stay here or at Porcupine Flat Campground, on the Tioga Road 9.2 miles past the White Wolf road junction. During the summer season all these campsites can be full, so plan to find a campsite early in the day.
Click here to go to the complete trail listing for Yosemite's West-Central Lands, between the Tuolumne River and Highway 120 (Hikes 15-28)
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication