Craig from Tennessee writes:
I visited Yosemite a few years ago and was amazed. I went with a buddy and our time was kind of pressed. We hiked through the Mariposa Grove and camped in the Valley for two nights. I had a great time and really enjoyed the trip, just wish we could have gotten out of the Valley and saw more. Well, my chance has arisen with a different group of friends. At present, we are planning an early June trip of between 5 and 7 days. None of these guys have been to Yosemite and it would be remiss to not take them to the Valley for a day or two, but we plan to spend a decent amount of time on backcountry trails. We are moderately experienced hikers and campers, and we enjoy fishing as well. I have been reading the 100 HIKES IN YOSEMITE by Soares, which seems to be a pretty good guide to the hiking options. I am one to keep my options open and the more advice and suggestions I receive, the better. So I was wondering if you would mind passing along some suggested backcountry hikes that would fit our hiking, camping, and fishing theme. There should be 5 or 6 of us in the group. Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated.
Well Craig, although the fishing IN Yosemite may be kinda tough Yosemite is lucky enough to be surrounded by some world class water all within a short driving distance. A few great spots east of the park are: Hot Creek, San Joaquin River @ Devils Postpile, Reversed Creek, Walker River, and Rush Creek.
But for a really excellent trip I’m going to recommend Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley via Clouds Rest and with a stop to climb the cables on the back side of Half Dome.
You’ll want to be sure to use two cars for this or have somone shuttle you to Tuolumne Meadows. Start off in Tuolumne Meadows where you can spend the night and enjoy the profound beauty of the Yosemite high country as well as getting a little fishing in on the Tuolumne. It gets a lot of pressure but I had no problem pulling a nice brown and a decent rainboy. If you’re fly fishing think terrestrials. Ants and hoppers and stimulators work great.
Head south west up around Cathedral Peak, past beautiful Cathedral Lakes and on to the backpackers camp by Sunrise High Sierra Camp where you spend the night. From there on to Clouds Rest and then to the backpackers camp in Little Yosemite Valley to spend your third night. From there you can cliimb the cables to the top of Half Dome the next morning for unparalleled views then back to camp in the early afternoon for some catch and release fishing in the Merced just down the trail a piece.
From there I recommend the John Muir Trail down. You can take the Mist Trail if you want to save time but it’s VERY slippery rock in the spring and getting hurt that late in the game would be no fun at all. Head back to the Valley where your other car is waiting and stay the night one of Yosemite’s hotels. I recommend the Ahwahnee if you can afford it. There you can have a steak and a beer in the dining room like Galen Rowell used to.
Next morning take a short hike over to Yosemite Fall before hopping in the car and heading up to Glacier Point with a short stop at Bridal Veil fall and Tunnel View for classic Yosemite vistas. On your return to the Valley enjoy some fishing in the Merced then lounge by the fire in one of Yosemite’s fire for the next morning you shuttle back up the Tioga Road to pick up the other car and then head home.
I think that about covers everything you could ever hope to see in Yosemite in 6 days. Be sure to have an alternate plan in case there’s a lot of snow and the roads/trails aren’t open or safely passable. Also always tell someone where you’re going. Even experienced backpackers can get into trouble and Search and Rescues are never fun.