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Easy Classic Yosemite
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Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Easy Classic Yosemite on 11/15/2010 15:48:05 MST Print View

OK all, assignment for extra good BPL credits...

A dad... let's assume me... is taking his 9 and 8 and 6 year old gals on a classic yosemite valley backpack. Each have done overnights / weekends.

The goal is around 5 miles per day, for a 4-5 day trip. Where do I go? What trail/trailhead/campsites? Will be at end of May or early June if I can swing it. I've never been to Yosemite so please help me plan this through your wise, seasoned lenses.

Thanks all.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Easy Classic Yosemite on 11/15/2010 15:54:24 MST Print View

Edward, that season is kind of awkward in Yosemite. First of all, the Tioga Pass Road may or may not be open, so you can't plan on any trails up high. Often it is open by Memorial Day, but on some years it didn't open until July Fourth.

Therefore, you would need to plan a trip pretty low and to stay out of much snow. Girls that age probably won't be good at post-holing in the snow. IMHO, Yosemite does not have a great deal of low elevation trails.


David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Easy Classic Yosemite" on 11/15/2010 16:58:48 MST Print View

Pay VERY close attention to the level of the "creeks" and rivers.

I haven't spent much time there, but I bet you will find that you are limited to areas that have bridges.

The walk out to Glen Aulin from Tuolumne Meadows would be great for the kids.

But I'm not too sure where else you could go.

We were there at the end of June this year and there was a lot of water around.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Yosemite Hike in May or early June on 11/15/2010 17:53:56 MST Print View

Wow! You are so lucky to take your 6, 8 and 9 year old daugthers on a multi-day backpacking trip. Yosemite can be quite a challenge for such and undertaking at the time you are targeting. I accompanied my two 15 year old sons on a 20+ mile trip over three days this June (June 12-14). Have a look at the photos on my son's website. Scroll down to "Day 0 - Happy Isles to Sunrise Lakes" and look at the creek crossing and the sun cups in the snow. That would most likely be too much for young children.
So you would have to restrict yor planning to lower elevations to be sure there is no snow. One additional thing to keep in mind is the need to carry all your smellables in bear canisters. Will you carry all the food for your girls and yourself in one bear canister? That will also somehow determine your route choices for a 4-5 day trip.

Enjoy your hike with your girls!

Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Ok, so that makes it easier. on 11/15/2010 19:14:26 MST Print View

Sorry, the dates were when I ignorantly thought the waterfalls were on display extravaganza. So then July/ August? With less dramatic waterfalls? The date isn't important. I just want the experience. Thanks, that already helps loads......

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Easy and classic ... on 11/15/2010 22:52:30 MST Print View

It seems like the waterfalls are important to you and you would like to visit classic sites in an easy way.


One hike you might enjoy is going from Tuolumne Meadows down to Yosemite Valley. It is mainly downhill. It starts at Tuolumne Meadows with Lembert Dome and brings you by Catheral Lakes, Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Little Yosemite Valley, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall. It is a 20 mile hike. So you could do it with your girls in 4-5 days and it is mainly down hill. While I personally don't like how crowded this part of Yosemite is, you will most likely enjoy it with your girls. Your girls will most likely enjoy seeing pack trains and love the horses, while I'm not really fond of their excrements along the trail. Having the opportunity to eat at Sunrise High Sierra Camp along the trail (on the second day) will help you with carrying all the food in a canister. You have to make a couple of judgement calls along the trail. One is whether you want to take your girls down the steps of the Mist Trail. It is certainly a spectacular part of the hike and many families with children do it, but you need to be aware of your children's abilities and limits.

Since this is a one way hike you need to plan whether you park your car in Yosemite Valley, take the bus to Tuolumne Meadows and hike back or whether you park at TM and take the bus back from YV.

Edited by Orienteering on 11/15/2010 22:53:57 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Easy Classic Yosemite on 11/15/2010 23:28:42 MST Print View

On an average year, the high country starts to open up in June, and then it gets good by July and hangs on through August. You can start in May or June, but then you are forced into the low elevation areas which are few. The wildflower bloom starts down very low around April and steadily moves upward until August.

One suggestion would be to start moderately high and then work your way across the North Rim of Yosemite Valley, going from the east to the west. Another suggestion would be to work your way along the South Rim of Yosemite Valley, either east to west or west to east. Each of these two has some ups and downs, but neither has any 3000' uphill march that would be harsh on little girls. A third suggestion would be to start from the Tioga Road, work your way down the Yosemite Creek Trail to Yosemite Falls, then turn and head east toward North Dome and exit back out to the Tioga Road again.


Brendan Kehde
(Caretaker) - F

Locale: Jupiter, Florida
Re: Re: Easy Classic Yosemite on 11/16/2010 12:28:46 MST Print View

Ed, I sent you a P.M. with more details about my trip.

I agree with B.G. - it's probably best to start from Tioga Road, walk over to and along the North Rim, have a good look, and then return back to Tioga Road. It's really beautiful up there. And there are many awesome spots to camp while backpacking along the way.

Having done the 3000' uphill and downhill march leaving from the valley gives great perspective, and it worked for us, but it is not something I would do with more than one child, or one younger than 8. Our first day going up was a real challenge, and the last one going back down was only eclipsed by the first.

Edited by Caretaker on 11/17/2010 12:23:54 MST.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Easy Classic Yosemite on 11/16/2010 14:45:15 MST Print View

These guys give good advice. Remember that you can see some nice waterfalls by just visiting the valley (waterflow permitting of course) and still hike elsewhere away from the crowds!

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Easy Classic Yosemite on 11/16/2010 15:11:31 MST Print View

I would do the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne if Tioga Road is Open. You could make very short days if you wanted and the falls are spectular.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Easy Classic Yosemite on 11/16/2010 16:21:44 MST Print View

Greg, don't you think that the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne would be too tough for little kids?

The other problem with that route is that there is no good bail-out point. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a nice route. I did it once, and two adults on that trip were suffering a bit.

If you want to see some good waterfalls, then go from Hetch Hetchy to Rancheria Falls. The bad news is that it is about seven miles to get there. The good news is that the trail is fairly easy.


Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Tuolumne to the Valley via Vogelsang Pass and Merced Lake on 11/18/2010 19:01:19 MST Print View

In the Canyon, once you leave Glen Aulin ,campsites are limited. There is one by the bridge, one just below Muir Gorge Falls, others near the Junction of the Rogers Canyon Trail. But, If you had to turn around, you would be facing a lng uphill climb out.

The hike to Vogelsang High Camp is a gradual climb all the way out from Tuolumne. Tulomne Pass is a beautiful wide meadow, so there are plenty of camping opportunities as well as at the High Camp tenting areas. The hike up to Vogelsang is not veryy steep either and you pass by two lakes. Lake Bernicce is another great place to camp and the spur is less than a mile off the main trail even thought the maps and sign say one mile. Before that junction there are plenty of places to camp, too, with nearby water.
Oncedown from the pass, your hike all the way to the Valley is a gradual downhill.
You also go right through the High Camp at Merced Lake with good camping spots.
There is a tenting area near the jct. of the JMT.
The hike down to the falls is steep and rocky, but you kids would have fun on it. You will see plenty of day hikers there climbing up it. The JMT is an easier, but less interesting alternative.
A 5Pm or so YARTS bus will take you back to Tuolumne.

Lakes, mountain passes, a view of Mt. Lyell, water falls, views of the Half dome and two High Sierra Camps are all part of this hike.

August is beautiful time, little rain, no mosquitos,but nights can be cold, so take warm bags.

At this trip report, scroll down to the photo of Tuolumne Pass and below to see pictures along the route described here above:

Trip Report Thread: August 26, p. 4 "Yosemite loop hike....:

Edited by rambler on 11/18/2010 19:13:19 MST.