Route: Yosemite Picnic (CA)

Submitted by Jason Hardrath… on Wed, 08/19/2020 - 12:49pm
California, US
100 mi
Vertical Gain
14,100 ft

The Picnic comes to Yosemite!

Whether casually or competitively, this is meant to be the Yosemite multi-sport experience, encompassing iconic views and combining lauded challenges. Biking out of the Yosemite Valley, gaining 6,500' ft in 43 miles to Tenaya Lake, then completing the destination lengthwise swim of this beautiful alpine lake. After completing the swim, one treks out 10.5 miles onto the intrepid and well-known link-up of Tenaya Peak (5.4 Yds), Matthes Crest (5.7 Yds), and Cathedral Peak (5.6 Yds) commonly referred to as the Tuolumne Triple Crown. Upon completion of this link-up loop, the athlete returns to the oft fridged waters of Tenaya Lake to complete a return swim back across the length back to the bicycles, then bikes back down to finish on the El Capitan Bridge beneath this ancient granite monolith.

Jason Hardrath, a prolific FKT’er en route to 100FKTs, and Ryan Tetz, holder (at the time of this writing) of Badwater to Whitney Duathlon and California 14ers by Bike FKTs, were the first to complete what is now known as the “Yosemite Picnic." They based this effort on the concept first thought up and applied by David Gonzales in the Grand Teton Picnic, adapting the concept to fit the best of Yosemite. The idea came from a self-powered triathlon Ryan had thought up starting in Bishop, California that he referred to as the “Bishop Bozo Ironman” and he had made two attempts on this version, without success. Then, upon getting in touch with Jason Hardrath to join forces, the two started to rethink the trip to follow David Gonzales’ original picnic format of “bike, swim, run, swim, bike.” With input from David himself and Luke Webster the final decision was to start down in front of the internationally iconic El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley.  Thus, the Yosemite Picnic was born.

Yosemite Picnic break down.

  1. Bike 43.5 miles with 6,500' gain from El Capitan (bridge) to Tenaya Lake
  2. Swim the 1.1 mile length of Tenaya Lake
  3. Run + Hard Scramble the 10.7 mile Tuolumne Triple Crown (Tenaya, Matthes, Cathedral) with 5.6-5.7yds difficulty and 5,200' gain
  4. Swim 1.1 mi back across the length of Tenaya Lake (likely into a headwind)
  5. Bike the 44.5 miles back down to El Capitan (bridge) still with 2,400' of gain (but a whole lotta down).

All in all it is a bit over a 100 mile day composed of 88 miles on the bike with 8,900’ gain, 2.2 miles swimming, and 10.5 miles on foot (and on rock).

Beta tips from Jason and Ryan: 
1. choose a shoulder season with fewer RV driving tourists in the park.
2. start super early to avoid traffic while climbing (you are moving slow on the up, on the way down you can get close to the speed limits)
3. check weather for thunderstorms (you DO NOT want to get caught up on any of these exposed peaks or in the lake during a storm.)

After finished, one may enjoy a casual cool down ride around the Valley Loop.  We intentionally chose not to include the full Valley Loop as a part of the route to reduce risks of collusions with pedestrians or traffic in the higher congestion areas closer to the visitor center.

Most of all, HAVE FUN! 


Dedicated to my supportive and ever-loving Aunt Joyce, who I found passed away while I was staging to create this route, your explosive smile and kindness will not be forgotten. Thank you for being a source of kindness and joy as I struggled through childhood. Peace and love forever.

~Submitted by Jason Hardrath (IG, FB)