Route: Trans Yosemite (CA)

Submitted by benremitchell on Tue, 08/27/2019 - 07:35pm
California, US
75.1 mi

Ben Mitchell proposed this route crossing Yosemite National Park on the east-west axis:

The Trans-Yosemite Route: This route crosses Yosemite National Park laterally from Mono Lake to Hodgdon Meadows (east to west), or more exactly, from Mono Basin Visitor Center to Upper Carlon Day Use Area. 
If starting from Mono Lake (counter-intuitively, Mono Lake & Lee Vining are actually at higher altitude than Hodgdon Meadows), begin at the Mono Basin Visitor Center on Lee Vining Creek Tr. From here it's Hwy 395 to Tioga Rd/Hwy 120 to Vista Point Dr. Then you'll jump on a gravel/dirt rd before cutting the corner (to avoid a residence) to Horse Meadows Rd. Then take a hard left onto Aqueduct Rd, continue onto Forest Rd 1N17, and then onto Forest Rd 1N19 to Walker Lake. This is where the route turns to single-track. You'll soon connect with Bloody Canyon Tr, which makes a long, steep ascent to Mono Pass, just before entering Yosemite (amazing views). Once in the park you'll stay right for about 3.5 mi. Then you'll take a left on a little-used & hard to spot trail (not on most maps) that parallels Dana Fork to the PCT (joins with batter defined trail about half way). Go left on PCT, Left on JMT, & another right toward Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Follow signs to Vogelsang HSC, to Merced Lake, and then Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, & finally Yosemite Valley via the Mist Trail. The valley can be a bit confusing if you're not familiar. Follow the GPX route on your device (as is always recommended). After El Capitan Meadow, you'll connect with Old Big Oak Flat Rd, which you'll follow for the remaining ~20 miles (except for the last .6). Though for the most part a gradual climb, this is not as straight forward as it sounds. The first 4 miles or so consist of broken, intermittent asphalt, overgrowth, numerous rock slide zones, & one particularly challenging washout. Most are fairly easily navigable (watch for worn paths & cairns), but the washout zone is preceded by pretty bad overgrowth, and following the cairns and previous (& therefore expected) steady incline of the road grade will mislead you to an improvised trail in the side of a sheer rock face. To avoid this, when the thick overgrowth section begins, attempt to take a steeper angle uphill to follow approximately where the rd should have been (using GPS) in order to make it above the coming sheer rock face. (If you miss this & reach the washout, look uphill and you'll see some of the remaining rock retaining wall of the old rd.) After this ~4 mi section, you'll join with El Capitan Tr, a welcomed maintained section. Then it's Tamarack Flat Campground & a paved rd stretch to the Tioga Rd/Hwy 120 crossing. After another unmaintained section with some downhill, the old rd joins with Hwy 120 for a short bit. There's not much shoulder here and it is advised that you take the high ground, following deer trails when available, to reach Tuolumne Grove. Follow Old Big Oak Flat thru Tuolumne Grove and another 4 mi to Hodgdon Meadows. After joining with Tuolumne Grove Rd you'll take a right onto an unmarked rd (GPS) for a final .6 to Upper Carlon Day Use Area, just outside the national park boundary. There is a pit toilet and parking area here for 10 or so vehicles.
Please note that though the above route description is detailed, GPX data should always be used to more precisely follow routes.

CalTopo map:

GPX file:

AllTrails map:

GPS Track


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Profile picture for user Jason Hardrath @jasonhardrath

Sounds like a good time, Ben!

Thanks, Jason! Hoping no one beats me to it now. Waiting for new gear & 'til after an upcoming race at this point to attempt it for time. ?

I will certainly wait for you to give it a go! What is your rough window for putting in your first attempt?

Jason, sorry for the delay. I don't get on here much.

I appreciate that. I'm sure you'll knock my time out of the park. Life got in the way, but I'm now looking at next week, if the weather holds.

Hey Ben! This is awesome. I'd love to pick your brain on this route if you happen to see this anytime soon..

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Profile picture for user ashly.winchester

I plan on going for this route starting around 3am on the morning of October 10th. I will have my spot tracker and will also have my GPS watch for verification. Live tracking at the link below! Stoked and a little nervous about this one!

It didn't go for me. I decided to bail around mile 25, just before diving off into the backcountry where there are no bailout options for 26 more miles. I had a very odd experience consisting of intense nausea, inability to eat or drink, muscle cramping, dizziness and stumbling starting very early on in the effort. I suspect it was due to a variety of factors, one being an improperly mixed electrolyte drink. I do not suspect that it was due to altitude as I have plenty of experience being at elevation and I don't typically feel the effects of altitude until above 13,000 feet. There was very little improvement with rest, and so I made the safety call to end my attempt. Thanks to Trevor Rokosky for saving my sad little butt. 

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Profile picture for user Jason Hardrath @jasonhardrath

I will be giving Ben's Trans-Yosemite a go tomorrow. Likely starting just before Ashly so we can both go solo, unsupported. 


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Profile picture for user ashly.winchester

In reply to by Jason Hardrath…

Nice job powering through that one Jason!