Best Beginner Backpacking Trip in Yosemite

When it comes to backpacking in Yosemite, few guided trips offer the same “bang for your buck” as the Yosemite Falls Loop. Whichever direction you intend to travel the loop, it starts by climbing out of Yosemite Valley which comes with significant elevation gain, but you are quickly rewarded by views of some of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic features. This 3-day guided Yosemite trekking tour, led by SYMG guide Dahlia, doubled as a 20-year college reunion for our guests from London.

 Dahlia leading guests up the Snow Creek Trail.

Will appreciating his Leki trekking poles during the Snow Creek ascent.

Day 1

Climb Snow Creek Trail with incredible views of Half Dome

Our first day on trail offered plenty of sunshine as we moved between sparse patches of shade while ascending the Snow Creek switchbacks. This challenging day rewarded our guests with breathtaking views of Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon as we climbed and enjoyed a hot dinner at the cozy Snow Creek camp, topped off with a relaxing sunset viewed from the promontory.

Figure 3 (Top):   Jarad and Will enjoying a well-deserved break while taking in the views.

Day 2

Summit North Dome and Hike to Upper Yosemite Falls Camp

After a hearty breakfast and plenty of coffee, 11 miles along the North Rim of Yosemite Valley lay between us and our Upper Yosemite Falls Camp. Despite our biggest day ahead (in terms of mileage) the group still opted to include the optional North Dome summit along the way. The summit of North Dome is a great add-on to the Falls Loop and provides the opportunity to drop packs (and jaws) just before lunch and head to the summit of a granite dome offering incredible views of Half Dome.

Figure 4: The iconic NW face of Half Dome as seen from North Dome.

Figure 5: Group photo on top of North Dome.

After a long day, we made it to camp at the Upper Falls with plenty of time for the group to relax and swim before our final dinner together. Dahlia went the extra mile and capped off an already five-star dinner with a dessert of peaches flambé which drew a round of applause. With fully bellies and tired feet, the guys spent the remainder of the evening laying out on the granite slabs surrounding camp enjoying the clear, starry sky.

Day 3

Descend to Yosemite Valley next to the roaring Yosemite Falls

Our final morning had us up and out of camp early in hopes of beating the crowds to the view point atop Yosemite Falls and descended the Falls Trail before the full heat of the day had a chance to set in. In good spirits, despite nearing the end of our backpacking trip, we promptly made our way down to the Valley floor with brief stops to gaze at the Falls along the way.

After adjusting to the “real world” on our bus ride to Half Dome Village we sorted gear and said our good-byes before sending Simon, Ed, Will and Jarad off to their respective corners of the globe and back to their families. It was a real pleasure seeing such a long-standing friendship and sharing time in the back country with such a fun group.

Figure 6:   Looking up at the majestic lower Yosemite Falls


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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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