Yosemite High Passes Loop


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Matt Cairns
Matt Cairns

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(800) 231-4575
Summit 4 high elevation passes
Camp at pristine Alpine Lakes
Hike through remote areas of Southern Yosemite wilderness

The high-country lakes, peaks, and passes of Yosemite are truly spectacular and on this 50 mile loop we’ll hike deep into the heart of this alpine environment. We’ll travel mostly on trail while topping out over 4 high mountain passes -including Red Peak Pass at 11,180′, the highest trail pass in Yosemite. Enjoying astounding views of Yosemite and the High Sierra in some of the least visited areas of the park make this trip yet another SYMG classic.


July 16 - 23, 2023Book now
August 6 - 13, 2023Book now


July 14 - 21, 2024Book now
August 4 - 11, 2024Book now


2023: $2295 per person
Price based on shared hotel occupancy
Single Room Supplement:
Requested $255, Forced $128

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Trip Itinerary

Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 1 - Meet your guide in Bass Lake, CA Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 1 - Meet your guide in Bass Lake, CA

Check in to the Pines Resort on beautiful Bass Lake anytime after 4pm. Meet your guide and group at 6pm in the main lobby for a short meet-and-greet and trip orientation. Dinner tonight is on your own at one of the many local restaurants.

Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 2 - Hike to Lillian Lake Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 2 - Hike to Lillian Lake

After an early breakfast on your own (there is a nice bakery in the Pines village), we’ll meet you at 8 am to drive to the nearby trailhead (7,600’). The drive, which takes about an hour, is your responsibility to and from the trailhead. The hike to our camp at Lillian Lake (8,875’) will be roughly 6 miles. That evening there may be time to swim while your guide prepares an incredible dinner beneath the high peaks. The day ends with stargazing and storytelling.

6 miles, Elevation: +1938’/ -602′

Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 3 - Hike Fernandez Pass to Breeze Lake Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 3 - Hike Fernandez Pass to Breeze Lake

After a good night’s rest you will enjoy a fine breakfast before breaking camp and warming up your legs over a few miles of easy trail before tackling the first of the four passes on our itinerary: Fernandez Pass (10,200’), which brings us into Yosemite NP. There should be time for a refreshing dip in Breeze Lake before dinner and a mellow evening basking in the alpenglow.

7.5 miles, Elevation: +2150/ -1385’

Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 4 - Climb Merced Pass Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 4 - Climb Merced Pass

Today we hike up and over Merced Pass (9,600’), which offers a glimpse of distant Half Dome. This is the lowest of the 4 passes we’ll conquer on this trip, giving you a chance to hit your stride. That day’s final destination is Upper Merced Pass Lake (8,950’).

Elevation Change +850, -1539

Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 5 - Stop by Ottoway Lakes, hike over Red Peak Pass Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 5 - Stop by Ottoway Lakes, hike over Red Peak Pass

Today’s hike is a grand one, through the Ottoway Lakes cirque and over the incredible Red Peak Pass (11,180’) nestled high within Yosemite’s Clark Range. From there, we’ll descend into the Red Devil Lakes basin (10,000’) with expansive views of the Clark Range and Triple Divide Peak.

8 miles, Elevation: +2976’/ -2047′

Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 6 - Camp at Lake 10K Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 6 - Camp at Lake 10K

After our delicious backcountry breakfast, we’ll start heading southeast towards the border of Yosemite, winding our way through creek drainages and wildflower-strewn meadows. We’ll make an easy crossing of the Triple Fork of the Merced before climbing to our camp at Lake 10K, known for amazing sunsets.

7 miles, Elevation: +1414’/ -1316′

Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 7 - Climb Post Peak Pass Yosemite High Passes Loop - Day 7 - Climb Post Peak Pass

We’ll wake this morning and begin our ascent toward Post Peak Pass (10,750’). Along the way we’ll be greeted with sweeping views of the glaciated Ritter Range as we traverse the ridgeline that makes up Yosemite’s southern boundary. After the pass, we’ll finish our day and drop about 1,100’ to the Staniford Lakes Basin within the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

10 miles, Elevation: +1835’/ -3073′

After breakfast, we’ll pack up and hike the remaining distance to the trailhead where we started a week earlier. Expect a 1-2pm departure from the high country.

6 miles, Elevation: +514’/ -1764′

What's Included


  • One nights lodging at the Pines Resort in Bass Lake
  • 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

  • Personal transportation required
  • Follow guide in your own vehicle to remote trailhead and back on Day 2 and Day 8

  • Starting with lunch 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 Bass Lake, CA. Plan to arrive at the hotel before 6pm so you can meet your guides and group for your trip orientation. Transportation is not included in this departure, so you will need your own vehicle to get you to the Pines Resort as well as driving to and from the trailhead. We’ll return to Bass Lake between 2-3pm.

Training & Preparation

This is one of our more strenuous trips and is one that we do not recommend for those who are new to backpacking. Plan to carry a fully weighted backpack for 7 trail days without a resupply. It is essential to come prepared! 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 High Passes Loop.

What's not included
  • Transportation to and from trailhead and lodging
  • Personal clothing & footwear
  • Dinner on the first night in Bass Lake
  • Recommended 10%-20% gratuity for guides
  • Trip Insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Airfare
  • Voluntary or involuntary evacuations

Trip Reviews

Earl H, 2017

Laura, thank you so much for your leadership and comradeship over the SYMG trip. Out first interaction was your personal letter when Christine & I were MIA. We absolutely loved the letter. You are such an awesome lady!

Greg G, 2016

It was awesome. Nick was great and I really appreciate him showing us something we had never experienced before, much different than car camping. We got lucky to have great weather, good group and an awesome guide. I didn't know what to expect out of a guide but he exceed anything I expected. Thanks for everything.

Jamie M, 2016

Our trip was really really great. Could you please pass on our thanks to Nick. Our time in Yosemite was the best part of our time in the US and now that we are back in Australia we know we definitely want to return to Yosemite again at some point. I'll fill out the survey now but just wanted to flag that a real highlight of the trip was Nick's cooking - he cooked some very yummy meals. Thanks again.

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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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