Day 1: Arrive at Forks Campground
We kick off the weekend by arriving at our campground any time after 2 pm and checking in with your trip leader. If you arrive early, there are many options to keep you occupied. This evening, we’ll get to know your fellow Adventure People as we sit around the campfire with your drink of choice.
Day 2: Yosemite Valley
This morning, we’ll plan on an early start for a full day of exploration in the iconic Yosemite Valley. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.
From Glacier Point, we’ll turn right on Wawona Rd and continue down Yosemite Valley where we’ll go through a mile-long tunnel. Immediately after exiting the tunnel, we’ll stop at a vista overlook with spectacular views of Bridalveil Falls, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and El Capitan before continuing on to the Yosemite Chapel, which is the oldest building still in use in Yosemite Valley, dating from 1879 for a spectacular view of Yosemite Falls from outside the chapel. From Yosemite Chapel we’ll continue to Sentinel Bridge, one of the best-known photo locations in Yosemite – Half Dome over the Merced.
Our hike today starts at Lower Yosemite Falls (shuttle stop #6) where we’ll head west along the bicycle path until you see signs for the Valley Loop Trail. This trail follows many of the Valley’s first east-west trails and wagon roads. It offers a rare opportunity in Yosemite Valley: to hike on a fairly level trail with some solitude. While some of the trail passes near roads, much of it takes you through meadows, talus slopes at the base of the granite cliffs, and near the Merced River.
From the Lower Yosemite Falls area, we’ll head west along the base of the Three Brothers rock formation, past Camp 4, eventually working our way through Yosemite Valley to El Capitan. We’ll continue west past El Capitan toward Bridalveil Fall. While most of the trail is flat, there are some hilly sections throughout the hike.
If you prefer to do a shorter hike, you can do the half loop crossing the Merced River at El Capitan Bridge and continue by heading east back toward Yosemite Village.
Yosemite Valley Loop Trail (moderate)
Elevation Gain: Mostly Level
Full Loop – 11.5 mi (5-7 hours)
Half Loop – 7.2 mi (2.5-3.5 hours)
Estimated drive-time: 1.5 hours each way
Note: There is a $35 vehicle pass required to enter the park (not included). You can purchase this pass in advance at https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74296.
Day 3: Bass Lake
This morning, we’ll hit the lake for some Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP) or kayaking. Long considered the hidden jewel of the Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake is one of California’s premier kayaking destinations. The lake is surrounded by a tall pine forest along the western shore and is intermixed with oak and pine treed and waterfront homes along the eastern shore. It provides outstanding paddling opportunities in the early hours of the morning, before speedboaters and jet skiers rev up their motors at which time, paddling can become more challenging.
This afternoon, we’ll explore one of the local trails near Bass Lake and visit Angel Falls via Willow Creek Trail, a 3.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate.
Angel Falls via Willow Creek Trail (moderate)
3.1 miles (1.5 – 2 hrs) Loop
Elevation Gain: 606 ft
Day 4: Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
After breakfast and packing up camp, we’ll head to another part of the park, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. These nearly 2,000 year-old trees provided the impetus for the creation of Yosemite National Park. The Native American stepped here first, followed by adventurers such as Galen Clark, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt… and now you. Mariposa Grove has just reopened following a three-year renovation to save the lives of the trees.
Our hike today will begin at the Mariposa Grove Arrival area and will follow the Mariposa Grove Trail to Wawona Point. This wide and relatively smooth trail follows a route that people have used to access the grove for generations. See famous sequoias such as the Bachelor and Three Graces, the Faithful Couple, and the Clothespin Tree along this somewhat strenuous route to the upper reaches of the grove. Continue to historic Wawona Point, an overlook with incredible panoramic views.
After our hike, we’ll say goodbye to our new friends until the next adventure!
Mariposa Grove Trail to Wawona Point (strenuous)
7 miles out & back (4-6 hours)
Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft
Estimated drive-time: 30 minutes
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