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Tuolumne Meadows

Highlights

  • Vast and idyllic Tuolumne Meadows
  • Cascades, rivers, lakes & towering domes
  • Spectacular Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River
  • 3 biggest waterfalls on the Tuolumne River
  • Moderately easy hiking
  • Great for families or beginners

Description

Our Tuolumne Meadows Backpacking Trip is a fantastic choice for families or guests who want a great introduction to Yosemite on a highly scenic, moderately challenging trip. This trip provides a lot of return on investment. In just 4 days with wonderful days of hiking we'll explore arguably the most pristine and majestic region of Yosemite National Park - Tuolumne Meadows. We leave the crowds behind on this trip and venture into a land of granite domes, meandering rivers, thundering waterfalls, peaceful meadows, and serene wildlife. On Day 2 we leave camp set up and day hike into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, which is a day you'll never forget!
Give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more about this trip or to book your spot 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

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

This Yosemite trip begins with rendezvous in Yosemite Valley on the patio of Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) in front of the Yosemite Mountain Shop at 6PM on Day 1. The Mountain shop is located on the street-facing side of the Half Dome Village Pavilion (closest to the parking lot). You will easily spot your guide waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat and shirt. We'll conduct an orientation meeting and enjoy dinner together here at Half Dome Village, after which we'll get settled in the Backpackers Camp a stone's throw away from majestic Tenaya Creek and under the spectacular domes and cliffs of Yosemite Valley.


Day 2

Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Elevation Loss: 1000 feet


We enjoy a quick breakfast in Yosemite Valley and make sure all loose ends are taken care of before we head up to our trailhead in Tuolumne Meadows, the largest and most beautiful sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra. Here, after soaking in the incredible panoramic views of the High Sierra, we begin our adventure. Taking advantage of our high elevation trailhead, today’s hike is mainly level following along the Tuolumne River as it meanders through the meadows. We’ll stop for lunch along the river and enjoy a fantastic view of the jagged Cathedral Range reflected in its calm waters as fluffy cumulus clouds accentuate the impossibly deep blue of the Sierra sky. After lunch the trail steepens and we pass numerous cascades as we approach our camp at the Glen Aulin Backpackers Camp. Here we’ll set up camp for two nights to take advantage of treated water, bear boxes and solar outhouses.


Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Elevation Loss: 1700 feet


Today we’ll leave our camp set up at the Glen Aulin Backpackers camp and hike, sans backpacks, into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, one of Yosemite’s most scenic areas. After a hearty, filling breakfast, we’ll throw on our day packs and head down river to visit three of Yosemite’s most photogenic waterfalls. Our trail begins by descending into the idyllic, original site of the Glen Aulin camp along a flat area below spectacular Wildcat Point, an amazing expanse of granite. We reach California Falls just past the end of Glen Aulin. Farther on, the path becomes rougher and more precipitous as it follows the increasingly steeper Tuolumne River until we reach the second waterfalls, Le Conte Falls, one mile beyond. Another mile leads us to the most spectacular and largest of the three, Waterwheel Falls, with its namesake waterwheel shooting a spout of water into the sky. Here we enjoy our picnic lunch before retracing our path back to our campsite where we can enjoy a late afternoon dip in the Tuolumne or just relaxing with a good book.


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1200 feet
Elevation Loss: 400 feet


After our last breakfast at tranquil Glen Aulin camp we’ll pack up our backpacks, top off our water bottles and head up the trail to our next destination, Polly Dome Lakes. Although the trail gains some elevation, it is mostly a moderate climb through a forest of lodgepole pines and some firs. Through the trees we catch glimpses of the surrounding granite peaks: Tuolumne, Hoffman and finally Polly Dome, itself as we approach closer to our destination. There we set up camp and afterward explore the area; maybe hiking up to the top of Polly Dome or, perhaps, just taking a quick swim before we settle down to our last dinner of the trip. Either way we’ll sleep well under the vast canopy of stars above us.


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
Elevation Loss: 650 feet


We'll sleep in this morning and heavey a relaxing breakfast, as our today's hike is an easier one with our trail hardened muscles making quick work of our path. We’ll follow Murphy Creek out to its junction with awesome Tenaya Lake, where we’ll have our last lunch along the shores of, perhaps, the most beautiful lake in the Sierra Nevada. As we take a last look at the shimmering granite peaks surrounding us, we’ll already be planning our next trip to this incomparable "Range of Light."


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, leather gloves (for the cables) 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, leather gloves, 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 in Yosemite Valley on the patio of Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) in front of the Yosemite Mountain Shop at 6PM on Day 1. The Mountain Shop is located on the street-facing side of the Half Dome Village Pavilion (closest to the parking lot). You will easily spot your guide waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat and shirt. This trip includes dinner and camping that night at the backpackers camp. Personal vehicles can remain parked at Half Dome Village during your 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°