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Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite

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October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 12:11PM
Some friends and me are looking to hike 6 - 7 days in Yosemite, October 7 - 16, covering about 30 miles. Any suggestions on trails with water sources, not getting into snow, and not technical? We're average hikers and would prefer to bring a 3 season sleeping bag versus all the winter camping stuff. We are flying in and out of Fresno so would be preferable to have start/end points where we can organize transport to/from the airport.
Thanks for any and all ideas!
avatar Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 01:54PM
A single six-night hike in October could be problematic for weather, have you considered multiple shorter hikes? October days are typically nice in the Sierra, nights a bit cold, but you can get a storm or two through. Multiple shorter hikes would allow you to access updated forecasts before heading out again.

There will not be accumulated snow, if it does snow it'll be on bare ground and will melt over a few days. However, you'll need at least 20 degree sleeping bags, and nights in the teens aren't out of the question.

Where are you flying from?

EDIT: Note that overnight parking along the Tioga Road isn't allowed after October 15.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2014 01:58PM by ttilley.
Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 02:39PM
Flying out of Madison, WI. We don't have to do Yosemite - just looking for something out west. Ideas?
Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 02:47PM
Hi folks --

(I'm a member of the same group as travelpro2277).

We're coming in from Wisconsin. We've got the kit for low temperatures (we regularly do winter camping here in WI), but would prefer to avoid having to bring our 4-season bags if possible (they take up so much space).

As tp2277 says, we're not set on the JMT or on Yosemite; good hiking out west is what we're after. But we would prefer to do a continuous hiking segment rather than 1-day trips, to get that true wilderness feel.


Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 03:15PM
As noted above a planned trip during this "shoulder" period is problematic but you could plan a trip and always keep a backup of just camping out in Yosemite Valley and doing multiple day trips. Yosemite Valley begins to get very quiet that time of year and if you have never been to Yosemite I would highly recommend that alternative. It would allow you to do many different hikes and see large parts of Yosemite.

It also could simply your transportation needs and perhaps even avoid a car rental if you base everything in the Valley. A couple years ago I did a few day trip from Chicago and had good weather. But on the last day, on the day I was flying out that evening from San Francisco, I hiked Mt. Dana, and summited just as a snow flurries came in which was the beginning of a system and large snow fall that shut down Tioga Road the next day. I barely made my flight in SF.
avatar Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 06:35PM
Hmm...I missed the transportation thing.

I'm afraid that if you're thinking October then you will most likely need a car to do a practical backpack. I believe you'll find that the transit options in the area (Tuolumne Hikers Bus, YARTS, etc.) have all ceased operation for the season.
avatar Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 06:19PM
I was actually suggesting a couple 2-3 day trips, not day trips. Basically, you arrive...if the forecast looks good then do trip one. Then come back in, and if it still looks good then do trip two, otherwise day trip as long as things are OK. As I noted, the daytime weather is often nice in October, but snow (enough to pose problems and temporarily close roads) does happen. Nights...yeah, expect low 20s or upper teens. Hopefully it'll be better, but don't expect above freezing.

Another consideration is that non-desert areas of the west (so you're not carrying all your water - impractical for a 6 day trip!) other than the Sierra, which are large enough to sustain a 6 day backpack, are likely to be even more problematic than the Sierra for a 6 day trip. Grand Canyon is just about the only exception I can think of.

A few thoughts...

The aspens should be turning color on the east side of the Sierra during your timeframe. Thus, maybe one trip (the later one, if you're OK with the two-trip suggestion) could start on the east side. Leavitt Meadows up towards Fremont Lake, in the Hoover Wilderness, from CA-108 is an option. June Lake area - CA-158 up towards Gem Lake has nice color (then up into the pines). A beautiful one-night trip might be from Convict Lake (just south of Mammoth) towards Dorothy Lake. Two years ago I hiked up McGee Creek in October (just south of Convict...) - lots of stuff up there. Twin Lakes (between Bridgeport and Lee Vining) is another starting point with good fall color chances.

Your last day is October 16, and overnight parking is disallowed along the Tioga Road after October 15 - sadly inconvenient, unless the trip is split and the Yosemite portion is done first.

Before I type more words...are there more specific interests you may have? Alpine scenery and lakes? Color? One thing to consider is that only the largest streams may be flowing by then, we're in the third year of a severe drought, so by October water access will be a consideration, suggesting lakes may need to be part of the itinerary.

EDIT: October 15 tends to be a "magic date" for another reason. CA-108 and the Tioga Road (CA-120) (and others) close for the winter. If a big storm dumps on the passes before October 15 CalTrans and NPS will try to plow them - though it may take a few days. After October 15 - the sun needs to take care of, at least, most of it.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2014 06:25PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 04:47PM
I can't help with the travel plans, only to maybe check the John Muir Trail Facebook page or yahoo group. Folks from all over the world check in on those pages regarding how to get from an airport to Yosemite. It may be cheaper and just as easy to fly to San Francisco and get transport to the park...not sure. Just a thought.

If you are taking public transportation to the park I think all the easy options go straight to Yosemite Valley, so a trip starting there would simplify things. And if the weather is bad you can stay in the Valley (lower elevation) and do all sorts of great day trips as a plan B. There are a number of great 30 mile loops you can do out of the Valley, only problem is they all start with climbs of 2000-3000 feet. Not that there's anything wrong with that...it is just a tough way to start a trip for some folks.

You could start up the Snow Creek trail (108 switchbacks!!) head to Tioga lake, and return via Sunrise/Clouds Rest, Little Yosemite Valley. Great loop, prob a little over 30 miles, and, as I say, a tough first day.

If they are still running the buses to Glacier Point then, you could start at the Mono Meadows trailhead and do the loop around the Clark Range...Illilouette Creek, Red Peak Pass, Washburn and Merced Lakes, and return.

If you rent a car and have more freedom to get to starting points, great loops go out of Hetch Hetchy, Wawona, and the Tioga Rad just outside the park.
Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 07, 2014 09:14PM
Listen to TTilley, because that's good advice. The problem is not just that it might get cold and snow. The snow covers the trail...and unless you know the territory and/or are very good at map navigation, you might not find your way out.

Even more of a concern would be that many trailheads can get snowed in during those dates--and you could have trouble getting it out at all.

WE are NOT saying that you shouldn't make this trip, or that you are crazy. We've certainly done trips in October. But we did trips that had an escape hatch in case the weather got bad...and we did them after we were pretty sure the weather would hold.

Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
avatar Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 08, 2014 12:47AM
Even more of a concern would be that many trailheads can get snowed in during those dates

And overnight parking is prohibited on Tioga Road starting on October 15.
Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 09, 2014 12:21PM
Early to mid October is the peak of aspen color along the Eastern Sierra which is what most visitors to the Sierra at that time of year are doing. However those areas are mostly between 6,000 and 9,500 feet which is below most wilderness destinations so that is mostly roadside and day hiking. To stay safe you ought to plan trips where you don't have to cross any higher passes to get back to trailheads that are not likely to get snowed in. Last year there was a rather vigorous winter storm with snow levels down below 8k right at the period you are interested in that you can read about here:


Three days after the storm most of the snow below 9000 feet had melted because ground temperatures were still well above freezings.

From Yosemite Valley at 4k you could to a Sierra classic by hiking from Happy Isles up the Giant Staircase of the Merced River 14 miles to Merced Lake at 7.2k a couples days in. Lots of spectacular glaciated granite features, waterfalls, a guaranteed nearby water source, no issues of hiking back if even the worst foul weather hits, chipmunks, black bears, even some fall color, and certain public transportation without renting a car. That would also give you a day or two for layovers during which you might dayhike up to Florence or Emeric Lakes with High Sierra scenery in those basins.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/09/2014 12:23PM by DavidSenesac.
Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 10, 2014 12:46PM
What David said. This was my first hike in Yosemite and while it's not the ideal time of year to do it (spring IMO), it won't disappoint. Tack on a few more miles and hit the area south east of Washburn if you go to Merced Lake. A layover on either end of the trip at LYV puts you in position to dayhike Half Dome or Clouds Rest as well. There's a spectacular campsite in the valley just west of Echo that's a great end for a "long" day 1. Beware the specter tree if you stay there though, it sees all.

The High Sierra Trail to Hamilton Lakes could be another option? Slightly higher elevation. Not sure when the shuttle from Visalia stops running.
avatar Re: October 7 - 16: Suggestions for 6 day hike in Yosemite
August 11, 2014 04:36PM
The answer is very simple:
Ewe from Wisconsin. Then donut bother with Aspens. Yeah, they pretty and all... but... I mean...
WE in Wisconsin got colour man.

Ok, maybe answer not so simple. Well... ok, it is. Go to Yosemite Valley and hike up Merced River.
You will like.
If you got a auto-car thingie... then drive to Glacier Pt. and hike around there first.
You will like.

Oct. 1st. It's almost always nice. The nights are starting to get really long then tho.
You from Wisconsin. Cmon. It aint cold in The Sierra.

It did do this last year in late Sept though:

And you should know:


Have fun. and Go Pack!
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