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Yosemite's Classic Summits


  •   High country to Yosemite Valley
  •   Stunning campsite locations
  •   Views from Clouds Rest or Glacier Point
  •   Summit of Half Dome
  •   Many famous and picturesque waterfalls
  •   Point-to-point hike
  •   Amazing natural & cultural history


Traverse the magic of the Sierra high country on this classic Yosemite Backpacking trip! This four night / five day adventure includes two of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic features - Half Dome and either Clouds Rest or Glacier Point. We start in the high country, end in the Valley, and experience incredible views, waterfalls, iconic summits, and overall amazing hiking in between!

We’ll begin our hike at the picturesque Tenaya Lake and trek into the high country spending one night below Sunrise Mountain near a selection of quiet mountain lakes. Alternatively, we’ll begin from Glacier Point and traverse Illilouette Ridge to camp under Mount Starr King. With either itinerary, we’ll enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains including tomorrow’s goal of Half Dome. We’ll spend two nights at a base camp as we tackle Half Dome without full packs and return that evening to a delicious hot meal, campfire, and maybe a soak in the creek! The final leg of this trek is a descent into Yosemite Valley along the world famous Mist Trail, passing the Silver Apron, Emerald Pool and roaring Nevada and Vernal falls, before exiting at Happy Isles on the Merced River.

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
5 days
23mi /37km
$1310 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: 4-5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 300 feet

We begin our trek along the shores of beautiful Tenaya Lake at an already high elevation of 8149 feet. We follow a level route for the first two miles, passing over the outlet streams of the Sunrise Lakes, before a short steep ascent brings us to the south edge of Tenaya Canyon. After a couple of more miles we make our camp. Alpenglow and stupendous sunset views entertain us as we enjoy a well-deserved gourmet dinner. We go to sleep early knowing we are perfectly situated for an early morning start on our ascent to the Summit of Clouds Rest tomorrow.

Alternatively, we begin our trek from Glacier Point, where you’ll have the chance to take in one of the most spectacular views in the park (comparable to Cloud’s Rest). From there, we’ll hike down to Illilouette Valley, setting up camp near Illilouette Creek beneath the towering Mount Starr King.

Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 5.5-6.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2600 feet

Today we will rise early for an alpine start on Clouds Rest. A steady, but not too strenuous climb of 1000 feet in a little over 2 miles brings us to the summit at 9926 feet above sea level. The views from the summit of this Classic Yosemite Peak are an outstanding 360 degree view of the surrounding Sierra Nevada. One can see many of Yosemite’s most famous features including: the Quarter Domes, Mount Hoffmann, Vogelsang Peak, and the Cathedral Range. Looking straight down you can see Tenaya Creek, 5000 feet below! The trek down from Clouds Rest is a steep winding descent to Sunrise Creek; along the way stunning views of Half Dome with El Capitan in the distance are framed by massive ancient junipers. An elevation loss of about 2600 vertical feet leads us to our forested campsite along the banks of bubbling Sunrise Creek.

If our trip began from Glacier Point, we’ll be hiking back out of Illilouette Valley and meeting up with the Panorama Trail to continue on to our basecamp at Little Yosemite Valley. The Panorama Trail is aptly named for its expansive and breathtaking views of the high country and Yosemite Valley, including Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and Clouds Rest.

Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 5-7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2700 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2700 feet

We won’t break camp today so we can climb Half Dome with only light packs. The trek to the summit of Half Dome at 8,839 feet is one of the most exciting "hikes" around! After following an increasingly steep and rocky path, the last 400 feet to the summit are via a set of cables, allowing access to this "perfectly inaccessible peak"! Views from the top of Yosemite’s most iconic summit encompass all of Yosemite Valley and much of the high country. Tonight, after returning the way we came, we will relax around the fire next to a rushing creek and celebrate our achievements in the high country!

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 5
  • Hiking Mileage: 5.2 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 2000 feet

The final day’s hike begins with a descent to Little Yosemite Valley and then passes through one of Yosemite’s most magnificent areas: the Mist Trail. Paralleling the Merced River as it makes its way down the glacially carved canyon, the trail passes the Silver Apron, Emerald Pool and Nevada Fall before descending through the highlight of the trail and its namesake: the soaking mists of Vernal Fall. Rain gear is a good idea as rainbows appear and disappear among the wind-blown sheets of spray as we descend the steep rocky steps to a bridge over the Merced River. A mile further, we can soak our hot, tired feet in the cool waters of the Merced at the trail’s end at Happy Isles and celebrate a successful hike.

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
  • 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)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and 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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