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Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.

These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.

Moderate- Basecamps
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.

Yosemite Valley Hiking Weekend

Half Dome Yosemite


Deep in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains lays the incomparable Yosemite Valley. There, you’ll discover Half Dome, El Capitan, all 3 of North America’s tallest waterfalls, and the “Wild and Scenic” Merced River. It is such a wildly impressive natural landscape that it has earned its own nickname “The Incomparable Valley”. Join us here where we’ll follow in the footsteps of John Muir, feel the power of the waterfalls, and contemplate what it was like when this entire region was covered in ice thousands of feet thick. You’ll spend your days with your interpretive mountain guide, hiking and exploring on- and off-the beaten path. Each day brings more highlights and plenty of photographic opportunities.


3 nights of tent camping within Yosemite Valley. Amenities include restrooms, running water, picnic table, firepits, and the nearby Curry Village complete with shops, showers, and restaurants. 


SYMG can supply all needed personal and group camping equipment (sleeping bags, sleeping pads, trekking poles, and tents) if requested on the registration form. A detailed gear list will be sent prior to trip departure date. There is no additional charge for this service.


Meals begin with dinner day 1 and are provided through lunch and trail snacks the last day. Our "Backcountry Gourmet" meals have been acclaimed in Sunset Magazine. We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.


Meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as listed above), accommodations (as noted above), applicable permits, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.


Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, meals while in the front country, alcoholic beverages, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), transportation, and optional trip cancellation insurance.


Training is paramount to the enjoyment and success of your trip. We recommend exercising in the months prior to your trip to bolster sustained cardiovascular/aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength. Day hikes with a full backpack, preferably on hilly, off road terrain, is the best way to train for our trips. Activities such as cycling and step-master type machines are also excellent and preferable to a routine comprised solely of running.

Day 1: Meet your guide and group at the Pines Campground (4,100’) at 5pm (two weeks before the trip we will confirm the exact site number as part of your final bulletin). After a short trip orientation, your guides will prepare a hearty dinner and campfire, and a walk out to the Merced River is possible if there is interest.

Day 2: After a hearty campground breakfast we will set off on an exhilarating morning hike along the famous Mist Trail to visit Vernal, Nevada, & Illilouette Falls. The trail lives up to its name and you’ll surely want to bring your rainjacket along! After lunch along the Merced River, we’ll make our way back to Yosemite Valley. In the afternoon your guide will tour you around the eastern end of Yosemite Valley, weaving tales of Yosemite pioneers, Miwok Indians, geology, and local wildlife. We’ll top off our day with a grand vista of the iconic Half Dome for sunset. Bring your camera! Expect a 6-9 mile day on moderate-easy terrain with up to 1,700’ of elevation gain and loss.

Day 3: We’ll start out of camp early today and shuttle ourselves up to the famous lookout at Glacier Point, looming high above Yosemite Valley. From this vantage, we’ll peer down into the valley 2,700 feet below and have panoramic views that include Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and the Clark Range. Here it’s easy to see why Yosemite is famously known as “The Incomparable Valley”.  After some time for pictures and contemplation, we’ll lace up our boots and set out to the South Rim of Yosemite Valley. We can visit Taft Point, perched out over the valley with unique views of the famous El Capitan. We can continue on to the summit of Sentinel Dome, with 360-degree views of the Sierra High Country and great views of the powerful Yosemite Falls, North America’s Highest Waterfall. Expect 5-7 miles of easy-moderate hiking with several hundred feet of elevation gain and loss.

Day 4: Today, we'll turn our sights to the western end of Yosemite Valley, beginning with a stop at the towering Yosemite Falls. At 2,425’, this is the tallest waterfall in North America and 7th tallest in the world. From there, we’ll get up close and personal with the massive El Capitan. From the meadow we’ll talk about geology and rock climbing, and you’ll have the chance to spot rock climbers high up on the face. It takes the average party 3.5 days of living on the wall to climb it bottom to top! Leaving the meadow, we’ll hike to the base of El Cap. Putting your hands on the smooth granite and staring up 3,000ft to the top really puts Yosemite into perspective. And what a way to finish your Yosemite trip! We’ll end around 2pm on Sunday in time for you to travel to your next destination. 3 miles of hiking on easy-moderate terrain.

Note: Campgrounds cannot be confirmed until 120 days in advance. Thus, we cannot guarantee departures nor specific campgrounds until these reservations are in-hand and we highly recommend holding off on booking flights, etc until the campgrounds are confirmed. 

For Lodge-based itinerary, the main differences are: 3 nights lodging in the Half Dome Village tent cabins (shared occupancy included), your guide will meet you on the morning of Day 2, and you will be financially responsible for breakfasts and dinners. Call or email us for more details.


*Similar trips include: John Muir Trail Hiking WeekendAnsel Adams High Sierra Camp

Trip Details

4 days/3 nights

Group size
3-12 participants with 1-2 mountain guides

Difficulty Rating
All levels

$895 per person for camping itinerary

$1295 per person for lodge-based itinerary*

*price based on shared room occupancy
Single Lodging Supplement (if available): Requested Single $495; Forced Single $245

2020 Trip Dates
June 4-7, 2020
June 25-28, 2020


We had a great time on our tours with Carlos. He was informative, fun, challenged us and encouraged me. We saw some of the most exquisite landscapes we could ever hope to. He was the perfect guide for my grandson and I. I would have every confidence in recommending SYMG and Carlos.

-Fran Skupski -June, 2014

Our trip to Yosemite was amazing. The highlight of our California adventure. Many thanks go to your group, especially Katie, for planning the days and encouraging all of us to continue hiking and enjoying the breathtaking scenery. What we saw and experienced was beyond any of our expectations. We feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in this natural wonder.

-The Fox Family - July, 2014