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Yosemite Hiking Vacation

Yosemite's Cathedral Range


  •   All-encompassing experience of Yosemite
  •   Start & end in Tuolumne Meadows
  •   High country & lower valleys
  •   Incredible views of Yosemite Valley
  •   Opportunity to climb Half Dome
  •   7-day backcountry loop route
  •   Amazing natural & cultural history


This longer Yosemite Backpacking trip is an excellent option for those with a bit more time to spend on the trail and who want to have an all-encompassing experience of Yosemite National Park. It isn’t necessarily more difficult than other treks but you will get to see and experience more of Yosemite’s Backcountry splendor, and enjoy many of the iconic highlights of the "Range of Light" including the summit of famous Half Dome!

This epic adventure traverses the heart of the Cathedral Range from Tuolumne Meadows up to the high Vogelsang region and then down the beautiful Lewis Creek Canyon to picturesque Merced Lake and along the shores of the cascading Merced River. The route then circles back around the western flank of the Cathedral Range and summits Half Dome, Yosemite’s most popular summit, on the world famous "Cable Route." It then heads back through the northern Cathedral Range past such iconic Sierra peaks as Tressider, Cathedral, and Echo before returning to Tuolumne Meadows in one of the most beautiful and all-encompassing Yosemite Backpacking trips we offer.

Yosemite issues backcountry permits 5.5 months in advance. It's beneficial to register before permits are issued and if you do, we recommend not making concrete travel arrangements until the permit is secured. We have a very good success rate with Yosemite permits, but if unsuccessful your deposit is 100% transferrable or refundable.

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Backpacking Trip
Yosemite Valley
7 days
39mi / 63km
$1675 Per Person

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Travel to Yosemite Valley

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Trip Dates & Booking

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Trip Itinerary

Day 1

This Yosemite trip begins with rendezvous in Yosemite Valley on the patio of 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 Curry Village Pavilion (closest to the parking lot). You will easily spot your guide waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat. We'll conduct an orientation meeting, 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. We'll enjoy dinner either at Curry Village or in camp.

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 6.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Elevation Loss: none

We begin our adventure in one of the highlights of the High Sierra, Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. There, among soaring granite domes, jagged mountain peaks, and lush fields of wildflowers, we follow the John Muir Trail south along the banks of the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River into wide Lyell Canyon. We will take it slowly today to acclimate to the thin alpine air and hike approximately six miles to the junction with Ireland Creek, a mere 200 feet higher than our trailhead. Here we will make our camp and after a quick dip in the brisk waters of the Tuolumne enjoy a delicious meal prepared by our guides. Then, under a canopy of brilliant Sierra stars, we will turn in to get a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s climb to Vogelsang!

Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 7.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2000 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 300 feet

After an early wake up call, we eat a hearty breakfast as we prepare for our hike up beautiful Ireland Creek into the high peaks along the crest of the magnificent Cathedral Range, one of Yosemite’s most celebrated regions. But, first we must tackle a difficult climb as our trail ascends 1800 feet to the high point of our day at 10,650 feet in just three miles. After catching our breathes, we descend to an idyllic spot alongside Evelyn Lake and enjoy a filling, well- earned lunch as we enjoy the beauty of the surrounding peaks: Johnson, Rafferty, Fletcher and Parsons, all above 11,000 feet! Our camp tonight will be near Vogelsang Lake at 10,300 feet, two miles further up the trail. There, magnificent views include looking down on the summit of Half Dome and all the way to the Coast Range 120 miles beyond!

Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 8.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 3500 feet

It’s another early rise this morning as we traverse around Vogelsang Lake as the early morning sun lights up Vogelsang Peak 1200 feet above us. We quickly top out at Vogelsang Pass, the high point of our trip at 10,700 ft. and descend into the exquisite canyon of Lewis Creek. We may get our feet wet as we descend along the banks of the creek, crossing over every now and then. After a streamside lunch in the vicinity of the beautiful cascades of Florence Creek, we begin a steep and challenging descent to Merced Lake. Just beyond the lake we will set up camp among granite slabs and Jeffrey pines next to the mighty Merced River and enjoy dinner by a crackling campfire as the alpenglow slowly fades from the peaks.

Day 5
  • Hiking Mileage: 6.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 800 feet

We have a mellower day today with a moderate hike to our camp alongside Sunrise Creek. We first descend through Echo Valley after a leisurely breakfast and then make a moderate ascent up the slopes above Echo Creek. As the trail traverses high above the Merced the views are astounding. Bunnell Point, Moraine Dome and the Merced River, flowing through the granite walls of the Lost Valley, stretch out at our feet to the west. Back behind us to the east, the high, jagged peaks of the southern Cathedral Range loom above Cony Crags and Mount Florence. After a final two mile descent through a pleasant forest, we set up a basecamp for the next two days and rest up for tomorrow’s ascent of Half Dome!

Day 6
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1600 feet

Up early, we have a quick breakfast and make an alpine start on our hike to the summit of Half Dome! As we are leaving the camp set up, we set out with only our daypacks. Our goal is to beat the crowds and the thunderstorms that tend to build in the afternoons! The hike begins with the ascent of a series of mild switchbacks two miles and 800 feet up to the base of the sub-dome. Here we begin the real climbing as the trail ascends 500 feet in a half a mile on steep stair steps carved into the sheer granite slope. A short level respite provides an opportunity to rest and prepare for the crux of the hike: the final 400 foot vertical ascent along the legendary cables. At the top, after catching our breathes, we have a celebratory lunch on the top and soak in the views of Yosemite’s magnificent High Country before heading back down the mountain for a relaxing evening at Sunrise Creek.

Please Note: the ascent of Half Dome involves climbing a section called "the cables," which is a very steep and exposed part of our hike. The National Park Service has installed a pair of cables to use as hand rails, but it is still a physically and psychologically demanding climb. Some of the objective hazards also include mishaps by other hikers, such as people slipping or dropping items. This climb isn't required to do the trip, but it is required to reach the top of Half Dome.

Day 7
  • Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 3300 feet

We’ll enjoy our last breakfast in the Yosemite wilderness and hoist our packs to return to the hubbub of civilization. Our trail first descends along the John Muir trail into Little Yosemite Valley on the backside of Half Dome. Looking up, we’ll barely be able to see hikers as they ascend the cables, far above us, just as we had done the previous day. Beyond, our trail descends past some of the most astonishing scenery around; including the world famous Vernal and Nevada Falls. With the soaring domes of Mount Broderick and Liberty Cap, on one side, the Panorama Cliffs and Glacier Point, on the other, we finally descend to the Valley floor where we’ll end our trip with an early afternoon lunch at the trailhead and celebrate our trip into one of the most incredible places on the planet!

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • Transportation logistics to the trailhead and back
  • 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 on Half Dome) 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
  • Emergency communication device(s)

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, 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? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here 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 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($100).

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 in the parking lot of Curry Village near the bear boxes at shuttle stop 14 at 6PM on Day 1. Your guide will contact you approximately 10 days before your trip to coordinate this rendezvous and answer any last minute questions you have. Your guide will be 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 Curry 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.


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.

Guide Shifts

Yosemite and Sequioa-Kings Canyon guides work daily shifts from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. During off hours (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) the guides' time is their own, and they are free to sleep, rest, take personal time, postpone guest requests until the next morning, and any other legal, reasonable activity people engage in when not working. We ask all guests to respect the guides' off-duty hours by not waking or asking anything of them unless there is a true emergency. Also, state law requires that employees receive an uninterrupted 10 minute break every four working hours, so guides are required to take four 10 minute breaks between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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 1-800-715-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)

Camping on Backpacking Trips

backpacking tent

Backcountry Sleeping

Tent Camping

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

backpacking meals

Backcountry Cuisine

Fresh & Delicious

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

backpacking campsites

Amazing Campsites

In the Action

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

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