Combine the remote crossing of Yosemite on SYMG’s award winning Yosemite Grand Traverse (chosen 25 Best New Trips in 2007 National Geographic Adventure Magazine) with the luxury of the mules carrying your gear and you have the makings of a memorable vacation! This pack trip is a 50-mile hiking traverse through the heart of Yosemite and spends equal time in the most remote and iconic regions of the park. Highlights include an ascent of Cloud’s Rest, entering Yosemite via 11,000ft Isberg Pass, a section of the John Muir Trail, and a lakeside camp beneath the famous Cathedral Peak. This stock-supported version ups the ante with exceptional food, comfy camp amenities, and leaving you to hike unburdened each day with just a small daypack.
2023: $3995 per person
Price based on shared hotel occupancy
Single Room Supplement:
Requested $110, Forced $55
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Check in at the Wyndham Garden Hotel at the Airport anytime after 4pm. Meet your guide(s) and group in the lobby at 6pm for a brief orientation. Dinner is on your own at the Hotel.
After an early complimentary breakfast, our shuttle will meet us at 7am to drive to the remote trailhead (7,100′), about a 3-hour drive. The hike to our first camp will be roughly 6 miles to Knoblock Meadow. That evening there may be time to explore while your guide(s) prepare dinner. The day ends with evening stargazing.
6 miles, Elevation: +1800’/ -300’
We’ll pack up camp early this morning with our sights set on Isberg Pass (10,500’). After passing through a high lakes basin, we’ll surmount the pass itself, which marks the official border of Yosemite. In the evening, we’ll enjoy a lakeside camp at the headwaters of the Merced River, surrounded by picturesque 11-12,000 foot peaks.
8 miles, Elevation: +2300’/ -800’
Today’s hike is a grand downhill, through the creek drainages that eventually form the mighty “Wild and Scenic Merced River”. Views of the Clark Range are abundant and there are plenty of beautiful meadows, waterfalls and swimming holes to distract us. The day’s hike drops us 2,500′ over roughly 9 miles and we’ll camp along the Merced River.
6.8 miles, Elevation: +150’/-2300′
This morning we’ll continue following the Merced past the famous high camp and into Echo Valley. From there, we’ll regain our lost elevation as we traverse large granite ridges enjoying spectacular views of Little Yosemite Valley along the way. The trail eventually leads to the Sunrise Creek area, positioning us below Cloud’s Rest in preparation for an early start tomorrow.
10.5 miles, Elevation: +1565’/ -1385′
We’ll be up and out of camp early to begin making our way to the top of Cloud’s Rest (9,926). We’ll reach the summit by late morning, and will have plenty of time to enjoy the stunning views of our route and of Tenaya Canyon 4,000 feet below. The peak itself is a side trip off of the main trail, 3.6 miles round-trip. In the afternoon we’ll continue on to our camp at Sunrise Lakes where we will have time to relax, clean up and enjoy camp.
8-8.5 miles, Elevation Gain and Loss: +2746′ / -1591′ including the summit side-trip.
Our second to last day we’ll connect with the famous John Muir Trail in the Tuolumne region of Yosemite. We’ll pass some stunning alpine meadows and otherworldly glaciated peaks on our way to what many guides consider to be the most beautiful spot in Yosemite, Cathedral Lake (9,600′). We’ll have time in the afternoon to explore the area via one of several off-trail routes, or just relax and enjoy the swimming and stunning views from the lakeside camp. 6miles plus an optional excursion in the afternoon.
6 miles, Elevation: +1322’/-896′
After breakfast, we’ll pack up camp one last time and head out the remaining 4 miles to the trailhead at Tuolumne Meadows in Northern Yosemite. We’ll be meeting our shuttle here mid morning for a scenic drive through the park back to Fresno. Expect a 5-6pm return to Fresno.
3.7 miles, Elevation Gain & Loss: +230 / -1293′
- 1st night’s lodging at Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno
- 6 nights of wilderness tent camping (permits included)
- All group gear including stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.
- Personal backpacking gear provided by request: backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, trekking poles, and tents
- Day 2 private shuttle from Fresno to starting trailhead
- Day 8 private shuttle from ending trailhead to Fresno
- Starting with breakfast on Day 2 and ending with lunch on Day 8
- Backcountry gourmet meals including trail snacks
- Hot tea or coffee served each morning
A Few More Notes
Travel & Logistics
This trip begins and ends at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno, CA. The hotel is conveniently located across the street from the Fresno Yosemite International Airport and provides a complimentary shuttle service from the airport if needed. Plan to arrive at the hotel before 6pm so you can meet your guides and group for your trip orientation. If you are driving to Fresno, you are welcome to leave your vehicle parked at the hotel during your trip for no additional fee. At the end of the trip, a private shuttle will pick up the group in Yosemite Valley and will drop off at the Fresno airport or at the Wyndham hotel. We recommend booking flights no earlier than 6pm on the last day.
About the packstock
Mules will be carrying all of our equipment and your personal gear each day. We won’t be hiking with the mules and perhaps not even camping with them depending on the day. You will need to pack your personal belongings (not including tent, sleeping bag & pad) efficiently into one mid-sized compression sack or duffel as outlined in our pre-trip materials, weighing no more than 15 pounds. You are welcome to pack anything extra in your daypack.
Training & Preparation
- Endurance, cardio, and aerobic activities
- Core and leg strength (don’t forget those abs and quads)!
- Day hikes (10-12 miles) or short overnight trips to train for both the physical and mental aspects of backcountry travel
- Cycling, running, step-master or stairs are great cross-training
- Include hilly terrain and steep climbs whenever possible
What's not included
- Personal clothing & footwear
- Dinner on the first night in Fresno
- Recommended 10%-20% gratuity for guides and 3% of packers
- Voluntary or involuntary evacuations
- Trip Insurance
M. Hardy, 2021
Harrison H, 2018
Cheryl E, 2016
Brijesh B, 2011
Sims R, 2013