Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack


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Matteo Fiori
Matteo Fiori

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(800) 231-4575
World's Top 15 Trails by National Geographic
Traverse through the heart of remote Yosemite Wilderness
Summit Clouds Rest and camp beneath Cathedral Peak

Named by National Geographic as one of the “World’s Top 15 Trails”, the YGT has reached almost mythical status since SYMG designed it in 2009. It’s now featured as one of the “25 Classic Hikes in North America” by famed Adventurer Peter Potterfield. The route is a 50-mile hiking traverse through the heart of Yosemite and spends equal time in the most remote and most 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.


August 17 - 24, 2024Book now
September 7 - 14, 2024Book now


July 5 - 12, 2025Book now
August 16 - 23, 2025Book now
September 6 - 13, 2025Book now


2024: $2995 per person
Price based on shared hotel occupancy
Single Room Supplement:
Requested $110, Forced $55


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Trip Itinerary

Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 1 - Meet your guide in Fresno, CA Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 1 - Meet your guide in Fresno, CA

Your trip begins in Fresno, CA at the Fairfield Inn & Suites across from the Fresno airport. You can check in at the hotel anytime after 4pm. At 6pm you will meet your guides and group for a trip orientation, where you’ll do a final gear check and discuss the details of the trip. Dinner tonight is on your own at the hotel.

Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 2 - Hike to Knoblock Meadow Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 2 - Hike to Knoblock Meadow

After an early complimentary breakfast, our shuttle will meet us at 7am to drive about 3 hours to the remote trailhead (7,100′). The hike to our first camp will be roughly 6 miles to Knoblock Meadow. This evening there may be time to explore while your guide(s) prepare dinner. We’ll end our day with astronomy and stargazing.

6 miles, Elevation: +1800’/ -300’

Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 3 - Climb Isberg Pass & Camp at Lake 10k Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 3 - Climb Isberg Pass & Camp at Lake 10k

We’ll pack up camp early this morning with our sights set on Isberg Pass (11,100’). 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’

Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 4 - Descend along the Merced River Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 4 - Descend along the Merced River

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 7 miles and we’ll camp along the Merced River.

6.8 miles, Elevation: +150’/ -2,300’

Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 5 - Hike to Sunrise Creek Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 5 - Hike to Sunrise Creek

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.

10.5 miles, Elevation: +1565’/ -1385′

Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 6 - Summit Clouds Rest Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 6 - Summit Clouds Rest

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, which we will complete without our full backpacks. 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: +2746’/ -1591’

Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 7 - Hike the John Muir Trail to Cathedral Lake Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack - Day 7 - Hike the John Muir Trail to Cathedral Lake

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 call “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.

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: +230’/ -1293′

What's Included


  • 1st night’s lodging at Fairfield Inn & Suites 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 in at the Fairfield Inn & Suites 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. Any additional luggage you have can be stored at our secure facility during your trip. 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 Fairfield Inn. We recommend booking flights no earlier than 6pm on the last day.

Training & Preparation

To ensure the most enjoyable and successful experience out on the trail, we recommend a rigorous training plan leading up to your trip, focusing on:

  • Endurance, cardio, and aerobic activities
  • Core and leg strength (don’t forget those abs and quads)!
  • Day hikes or short overnight trips with a weighted pack (30-35lbs) to train for both the physical and mental aspects of backpacking
  • Cycling, running, step-master or stairs are great cross-training
  • Include hilly terrain and steep climbs whenever possible

Looking for more tips? Check out our blog!

Prior Experience

We strongly encourage having recent backpacking experience or practice before embarking on this trip. The most successful people on these trips have completed a previous backpacking trip carrying a fully weighted pack (35-40lbs) for 3-5 days. If you do not have this experience, we recommend having a comparable level of fitness and committing to a detailed training plan. you could also consider joining us on a “shake-out” trip prior to the Yosemite Grand Traverse.

What's Not Included
  • Personal clothing & footwear
  • Dinner on the first night in Fresno
  • Recommended 10%-20% gratuity for guides
  • Trip Insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Airfare
  • Evacuations

Trip Reviews

David H, 2019

I turned 50 this year and I wanted to mark it with a family holiday like no other. The Yosemite Grand Traverse proved to be the most exhilarating and wonderful adventure for me, Shona and our three children (aged 20, 18 and 16). SYMG gave us all the information in advance to prepare for the 7 days and six nights in Yosemite and we had two incredible guides in Chris and Dan. Words can't capture the beauty of our surroundings nor the lasting impression that Yosemite leaves us. A truly magical experience that we cannot recommend enough.

Peter R, 2018

This hike was one of the best we have ever done- up there with the Bell traverse in the South African Drakensberg mountains and the Upper Wilken valley adventure hike on the South Island of New Zealand.

Sarah H, 2016

Just wanted to state the obvious: Wilson and Sierra are THE GREATEST GUIDES YOU HAVE! Both Wilson and Sierra are professional, respectful, intelligent, calm, supportive and patient (yes, in spite of having to get 6 women onto the trail in the mornings... Which by the way is like herding cats). They are wise beyond their years, genuinely, with great knowledge of biology, geology, backcountry skills, and history, which I find critical in this type of adventure. Their love of the outdoors was palpable and very real, which helped to thoroughly engage women who wanted to know about the Sierra. In any case, just thought I would take a second to give a shout out to W & S and thank you, Ian, and SYMG for a formidable, epic, well planned back country experience.

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Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides
Southern Yosemite
Mountain Guides
(800) 231-4575 (800) 231-4575 Local/International
+1 (559) 642-2817
Yosemite National Park, CA

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