Premier Yosemite Hiking Company

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Grand Canyon of Tuolumne

Highlights

  • Breathtaking backcountry river canyon
  • Famous Tuolumne River from the high country to valley
  • Impressive waterfalls & box canyon sections
  • History of John Muir - pioneered this hike in the 1800's
  • Rejuvenating solitude and remoteness
  • Good potential to see wildlife

Description

Ideal in June and early July (it gets too hot in mid to late summer), this adventure, through the deepest gorge in Yosemite National Park, passes by some of Yosemite’s most remarkable waterfalls flowing among massive, glacially-carved canyon walls. Beautiful riverside camps in this remote wilderness offer more solitude than most destinations in Yosemite. Our adventure begins in beautiful, flower-filled Tuolumne Meadows and ends at the historic High Sierra Camp of White Wolf Camp 32 miles down canyon. Along the way we'll pass by innumerable raging cascades and many placid pools of the mighty Tuolumne River through some of the most incredible scenery in the Sierra Nevada! Scenic highlights of this wilderness paradise include Wildcat Point, Muir Gorge and the idyllic Pate Valley, not to mention the beautiful shores of the Tuolumne River as it plummets towards Hetch Hetchy beneath 5000 ft. granite walls!
Join the Wildland Trekking Company on a journey in John Muir’s footsteps through the incomparable Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River! Give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more today!
Click here to have a detailed PDF information packet emailed to you, or request a reservation today. You can also call us at 800-715-HIKE.

 

Photos of this Trip

Photos: Peter Scott

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

This Yosemite trip begins with rendezvous at 6PM at the Yosemite Valley Backpackers Camp (located 100 yards behind North Pines Campground across the footbridge). We'll set up camp here in the Backpackers Camp, a stone's throw away from majestic Tenaya Creek and under the spectacular domes and cliffs of Yosemite Valley. We'll conduct an orientation meeting and enjoy dinner together while eagerly anticipating tomorrow's hike into the stunning backcountry of Yosemite!


Day 2

Hiking Mileage: 5.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Elevation Loss: 800 feet


Our trek into one of Yosemite’s most beautiful corridors begins high among the serrated peaks and massive domes of the Sierra Nevada in world-famous Tuolumne Meadows. Here, our trail parallels the northern shore of the Tuolumne River as it makes its way through the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra. Bountiful wildflowers enhance the already incredible views. Pothole Dome, Lembert Dome, Cathedral Peak, Fairview Dome and Unicorn Peak are just some of the iconic granite crags we pass as we hike approximately 5.6 miles to sublime Glen Aulin. At Glen Aulin, just below White Cascade and Tuolumne Falls, we camp at the backpacker’s camp, along the banks of beautiful Conness Creek, where we will enjoy a great meal, a roaring campfire and some good laughs as we settle in for a star-studded sierra night.


Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Elevation Loss: 3000 feet


An early start is essential today as our hike takes us to one incredible scenic wonder after the next. First we follow the wide and meandering Tuolumne River as it traverses mile long Glen Aulin which, appropriately means "beautiful valley" in Irish Gaelic. Beyond, we come to California Falls, the first of a series of three spectacular waterfalls that our route passes today. Next, as our route steepens and the granite walls rise above us, spectacular La Conte Falls appears, and then we reach the famous Waterwheel, often called one of Yosemite’s most unusual waterfalls. After a tasty lunch along the granite slabs below the falls, we will continue our trek below canyon walls rising higher and higher above us. Our goal is to hike about eight miles to a campsite above the ominous Muir Gorge where we will build camp for the night far from...just about anything else!


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 8.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Elevation Loss: 1500 feet


We begin our hike today by traversing high above the Muir Gorge. John Muir, along with Galen Clark, first ascended this narrow and dangerous gorge in the late 1800’s. Muir describes the river‘s passage through the canyon as a "savage, roaring, surging song" and "rather nerve- trying." We wisely stick to the trail and continue descending past Register Creek, beside a long series of pools and cascades, as we make our way to the next campsite in awesome Pate Valley. Here, in this mini-Yosemite, we relax along the shores of the Tuolumne among the black oaks and yellow pines and enjoy the solitude of this relatively warm and low-level valley. After a possible dip in the river we enjoy our last evening’s meal under a vast canopy of stars.


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 3700 feet
Elevation Loss: 200 fee
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The final leg of our adventure takes us up to our exit trailhead at rustic White Wolf High Sierra Camp and a great meal and possibly a cold beer! But, first we’ve a bit of a challenge, exiting Pate Valley to the southwestern rim of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne 3500 feet above. We start early to take advantage of the cool of the day as we switchback up the north facing slope to reach the old Tioga Pass route and finally trail’s end at the historic White Wolf Camp, originally built during the mining boom of the 1880’s. At a last lunch, we toast our successful completion of one of the more challenging trips in Yosemite!


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Yosemite hiking guide
  • National park backcountry camping permits
  • Bear cannisters for food storage
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear cannisters
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

This trip meets at the Yosemite Valley Backpackers Camp (located 100 yards behind North Pines Campground across the footbridge) at 6 PM on Day 1. This trip includes dinner and camping that night at the backpackers camp. We'll hold an orientation meeting at 6PM, then depart from there the next morning at an agreed upon time. Personal vehicles can be parked at Half Dome Village (1/2 mile away) during the trip.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.


Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's rendezvous time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will be out of the backcountry normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time) on the final day.


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in the Sierras

Being a high mountain environment, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in the mountains. On trips in June, snow is a possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:
 
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
         
 
Month
Valleys
Alpine
 
 
hi
low
hi
low
 
 
January
49°
26°
45°
25°
 
 
February
55°
28°
46°
26°
 
 
March
59°
31°
48°
27°
 
 
April
65°
35°
54°
30°
 
 
May
73°
42°
62°
37°
 
 
June
81°
51°
71°
46°
 
 
July
89°
57°
77°
50°
 
 
August
89°
56°
81°
53°
 
 
September
82°
51°
71°
46°
 
 
October
74°
39°
62°
37°
 
 
November
58°
31°
51°
29°
 
 
December
48°
26°
46°
25°
 
 
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