The Yosemite Red Peak Pass backpacking trips are perfect for the adventurer looking for classic High Sierra views and alpine lakes (lots of lakes actually) with more solitude. Red Peak Pass will have you gaining elevation as you make your way up to the Merced River Canyon to this pass which crosses the high peaks of the Clark Range in Yosemite. This area is a rarely visited Yosemite hiking trail due to its rugged terrain, but your efforts will be rewarded with pristine alpine lakes and above tree-line landscapes that allow for open star-gazing at night.
Red Peak Pass is a less popular route that takes you through meadows away from the crowds before making our way to the Clark Range and the over 11,000 foot elevation of Red Peak Pass. Camp will change every night as you move through the area to the highest trail elevation in all of Yosemite National Park via this 51 mile loop. You will camp at Moraine Dome, Washburn Lake, and Ottoway Lake, to name just a few of the many beautiful destinations.
The itinerary below is merely a sample. Beginning trail heads, trails hiked and daily distances hiked may vary.
*Route Variation – Our specific hiking route and campsites on each departure are dependent upon permit availability.
**Shuttle – this trip starts along Glacier Point Rd. If you do not have your own transportation and are taking YARTS, you will need to reserve space on the early (8:30am) Glacier Point shuttle. Spaces are limited and there is a fee.
Today, after we meet the group, we caravan to Mono Meadow (elevation 7214 ft), we will get you set up and on our hike away from the Yosemite Valley southeast along the Illilouette Creek. The goal is to hike about 7 miles (11.3 km) this day and to set up camp along the creek.
After breakfast, we will pack up and hike about 9 miles (14.5 km) through the Merced Pass and up to Lower Ottoway lake. The group will gain about 2,500 ft (762 m) in elevation before reaching the campsites at the lake. If you are brave enough, take a cool, refreshing dip in the lake before warming up by the campfire. Oh, and the views are pretty cool too!
Today, the group hikes up over the 11,150 ft (3,398.5 m) high Red Peak Pass. The views from this point are outstanding and stretch for miles. We continue down the other side of the pass down to the trail intersection with the Triple Peak Fork of the Merced River, where we will camp for the night. The group will travel over 8 miles this day.
We pack up again and hike past Washburn Lake, where its cold waters are home to brook and rainbow trout, to the campsites at Merced Lake. We will at most likely cover 10 miles (16.1 km) this day, but we will drop about 1,800 ft (548.6 m) in elevation to the lake. Depending on what time we get to camp, there is an opportunity for swimming at Merced Lake.
After breakfast, we will pack up and hike about 9 miles (14.5 km) from Merced Lake to Little Yosemite Valley, dropping about a 1,000 ft (304.8 m) in elevation. We pass some great scenery: Bunnell Cascades, Bunnell Point and Moraine Dome. But because we are heading to the busier part of the park, except to start seeing a lot of other hikers, especially as we get closer to Little Yosemite Valley and Half Dome.
It’s the last day and as we head back to where we started, we will pass by the top of the 500 ft tall Nevada Falls as well as Panorama Point, moving away from the crowds again as we head back to Mono Meadow. The hike to the trailhead in Yosemite Valley is about 7 miles (11.3 km). We are typically back in the Valley by lunch time. Once we get to the vehicles, we will unpack the gear and everyone will be on their way for whatever next adventure awaits!