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3 kids, 4 days, yosemite
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Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
3 kids, 4 days, yosemite on 02/03/2012 13:12:15 MST Print View

Ok, I'm totally lost here trying to plan a trip to Yosemite. Not having been there and trying to navigate the trails and permit maze is frustrating. Girls are all good hikers and can do some miles around 5 a day preferred not to wear em out too much. I'd like lakes, swimming and fishing. What I need to know is what section to do, and trailheads needed etc... the logistics is what's so mystifying. I'd love to hear an easy, true yosemite experience under these constraints: Water, 5 or less miles per day, loop or out and back. Ideas? You folks always come through.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Yosemite with kids on 02/03/2012 14:40:10 MST Print View

With smaller kids, I've done Yosemite at Curry Village for 4/5 days to hit all the must-see sites. You're going to have lots of people in the valley and that's mostly unavoidable if you want to visit Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, Vernal and Nevada Falls. June and September are far less crowded than July/August. I used Curry Village as a hub and we bring bikes so we can get around everywhere without driving. This a trip so they can have variety and fun.

Day 1: Drive up/Arrive
Day 2: Day hike Mist Trail from Happy Isles to Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls (if you want to add distance), then connect with the JMT back down towards Happy Isles.
Day 3: Bike; see Lower Yosemite Falls or get an earlier start and hike up to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls; alternately, you can spend the afternoon swimming in Mirror Lake if it's warmer and there's less water (July/August).
Day 4: Raft down the Merced River (rent or bring your own); stop at different points along the way.
Day 5: Depart

This is definitely not your quiet backcountry experience but it hits some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
3 kids, 4 days, yosemite. on 02/03/2012 14:48:32 MST Print View

We did 2 kids, 5 days:

We hiked from Tuolumne to Yosemite Valley when my daughter was 8 and son was 6. One of our goals was for the first day to be fairly easy at not too much altitude. It was about 5 miles with only 500' of climbing. The next day was all uphill though!

Day 0: Drive to Tioga Pass, camp at Tioga Campground
Day 1: Get up early and wait in line at Wilderness permit office (5:00 am) Next person arrived 6:30. When office opened we got a same-day permit. We were planning on a next-day permit and spending another night before the hike started.

Day 1: Tuolumne SB on JMT to near Ireland Ck. junction. Trail crosses then parallels the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River- fishing & swimming. Nobody camped in sight. Appx 5 miles, mostly flat on the map.

Day 2: Ireland Ck trail (uphill!) to Evelyn Lake. Swimming on a white sandy beach! Nobody camped in sight. Appx 5 miles uphill!

Day 3: Past Vogelsang High Sierra Camp to Merced Lake "campground" near Merced High Sierra Camp. "all downhill" on the map. Quite a few people camped nearby but flush toilets & piped water!

Day 4: Merced River Trail to Little Yosemite Valley. "All downhill". Last couple miles a sand slog. Paid children with jelly beans. Swim in river at a safe pond below a cascade. Swam again at LYV. Solar outhouse!

Day 5: LYV to Happy Isles. All downhill for real! Kids had great pride carrying their packs down the Mist Trail (lower portion only). Got a same-night tent cabin at Curry Village. Swim in pool and eat Pizza.

Day 6: Bus to get car in Tuolumne.

I can't recall the miles on day 3 & 4. I think around 8 or so each, all downhill.

Here's a big map of Yosemite:

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Yosemite with kids on 02/03/2012 14:48:43 MST Print View

Despite all of the obvious beauty in Yosemite, remember that the leading cause of visitor death there is by drowning. The water tends to be very cold, and often it is moving fast.

I suggest that you take them deep into the woods where they can see some ordinary wildlife like chipmunks, woodpeckers, and deer.


Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Thank you! on 02/04/2012 15:57:11 MST Print View

Thank you all. Very much. I am looking into these and your advice. I am also possibly aiming to copy cat Adan's trip report of yosemite with his girls as well. I am going to fight for a fax in permit but may end up resorting to the old fashioned show up and get in line early method. Much obliged!


Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: 3 kids, 4 days, yosemite on 02/05/2012 09:56:05 MST Print View

My son (11 at the time) and I did Tuolumne Meadows to the Valley over 5 days. Rafferty trailhead out of TM. Itinerary was:
- Rafferty trailhead
- Vogelsang HSC (still closed at the time)
- Bernice Lake
- Merced HSC
- LYV (climbed Half Dome)
- Mist trail to Valley

Lots of water everyday, everywhere, which was great and easy on the packweight.

If I had to do it again, with kid(s), I'd layover at Merced an extra night. He really enjoyed the HSC (we just had meals there) and people were waxing about the fishing at Washburn, which is a nice dayhike from Merced. You can save a little weight/space by taking meals at the HSC; it enabled us to take only one Bearikade Weekender for the two of us.

I would go up to TM at least a day (or two) before. We spent 2 nights at the TM Lodge before the hike and my son, who was in great shape, felt the altitude; headaches, loss of appetite, really lethargic. He was fine by the morning of the hike.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Vogel Pass on 02/08/2012 16:40:36 MST Print View

I would heartily agree with Sumi Wada. The hike from Tuolumne to Vogelsang is a gradual up hill. Then go over Vogel pass. It is a long switchback climb with the pass in site and around a beautiful Lake. From the Pass it really is all down hill back to Little Y. Valley. Amazing. In the valley below the pass and before the trail to Bernice Lake there are level places to tent and close to water.

One August, I camped alone along Bernice Lake. The trail up to it is labeled 1 mile on my map, but I am sure it is not that far. It is mostly uphill, but not far. Not much effort spent for a great reward.

Be sure to hike down the Mist trail past the waterfalls.

I agree with your plan to adjust the mileage to your kids' abilities. Most kids enjoy the camping more than the hiking.

I was amazed at how few people I saw once I got a little ways into the backcountry of Yosemite.

I met fisherman along the fore mentioned trails. Ask the people in the High Camps. Where fish have not seen lots of fisherman's flies are the areas to look for!

Point out to your girls that mot of the Lakes in the Park are named after women.

Edited by rambler on 02/08/2012 16:47:35 MST.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Tuolomne to Yosemite Valley milage and food storage on 02/08/2012 21:02:04 MST Print View

I brought out my Tom Harrison map to give you some milage on the above trip suggestions.
The milage between the two High Sierra Camps and also Merced HSC and Little Yosemite Valley is pretty close to 8 miles. So if a 8 daily miles is what your kids are comfortable with then your trip could look like this:
Day one: Tuolomne to Vogelsang HSC 7.5 miles mostly up hill.
Day two: Vogelsang to Merced HSC 8.5 miles mostly down hill.
Day three: Merced HSC to Little Yosemite Valley 8.3 miles mostly down hill.
Day four: Little Yosemite to Curry Village in the Valley 4 miles all down hill.
If you also climb Half Dome on your last day that adds 8.4 miles, so a total of 12.4 miles.
All three nights camps are in semi organized campgrounds that have bear boxes.
If your kids are up for this trip it is a classic and a fabulous one at that.

If you plan to camp at one of the other spots mentioned such as Lyell Canyon, Evelyn Lake or Bernice lake you need to bring bear canisters to store your food. They rent bear canisters for $5 in the wilderness center where you pick up your permit. One canister fits about 6 person days of food with careful packing. With four of you going for four days you'll need to bring more than one canister.