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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.

Half Dome and Clouds Rest Backpack

About the trip

This trip will take you to the summit of two of the most spectacular and famous summits in Yosemite National Park. On our trek we will explore the Tuolumne backcountry, backpack over the summit of Clouds Rest (9,926'), climb to the summit of Half Dome (8,836'), travel down a section of the John Muir Trail and see the breathtaking Vernal and Nevada waterfalls all in a long weekend format!

Accommodations: We provide your first night lodging in the Curry Village tent cabins and two nights tent camping (price based on shared occupancy). Located in the heart of the Yosemite Valley, Curry Village is the ideal spot to explore all that Yosemite has to offer.

Equipment: We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, ground pads, trekking poles, and tents) upon request with no additional fee. You are welcome to bring your own personal camping equipment if you prefer. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.

Meals: We provide meals starting with lunch on day two 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.

Your Cost Includes: 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.

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

Preparation: 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.

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Check in to Curry Village within spectacular Yosemite Valley anytime after 5pm. Meet your guide and group at 6pm on the porch of the Mountain Shop in Curry Village for a short meet-and-greet and trip orientation. Dinner tonight is on your own at one several local restaurants.

Day 2:After breakfast on your own, you will meet your guide in front of the Curry Village Mountain Shop at 7:30am. We’ll leave our cars here in the parking lot and take a shuttle to the Sunrise Trailhead at Tenaya Lake (8,140’). The shuttle takes about an hour. We’ll then lace up our boots and hike about 4 miles to the Sunrise Lakes. We’ll be surrounded by granite ridgelines at tonight’s lakeside camp, a wonderful place for swimming, sunsets and stargazing.

Day 3:Today we’ll start our day with a hearty breakfast before grabbing our packs and hitting the trail. We’ll hike up and over Cloud’s Rest (9,926’). From the summit you will have incredible views of Half Dome, the Tuolumne High Country and deep down into Tenaya Canyon below. After enjoying lunch on the summit, we will continue another 3.5 downhill miles to our camp on Sunrise Creek (7,210’) 7.5 miles

Day 4: Beginning early in the morning, we'll eat breakfast and start our hike to the summit of Half Dome (8,845'). Half Dome is a side-trip from the main trail and we’ll stash our backpacks and hike up with just the necessities. After a few miles of gaining elevation within the fir forests, we break above treeline for our first look at the famous Cables Route. After a bit more hiking we’ll make the quick and straightforward climb up the final stretch to Half Dome’s summit. Spectacular views await of the Sierra high country and down into Yosemite Valley far below. Not to be missed is a peek over the edge from The Visor, perched 4,700ft above Tenaya Canyon. After taking in the beauty of Half Dome’s summit, we’ll come back down to our packs, grab a quick lunch and hike all the way to Yosemite Valley (4,035’). We will have breathtaking views of Nevada and Vernal Falls and the Merced River along the way. We will end our trip back at Curry Village by 3-5pm (12 miles).

*Please note that with the new Half Dome permitting regulations in place since 2013, coupled with a huge increase in demand for fewer permits, itineraries may be subject to slight changes and different trailheads may be used to make sure we can climb Half Dome and Cloud's Rest. A common alternate plan is adding an extra Day 5 to the trip. All departures including Half Dome are not guaranteed until 6 months in advance, when the permit lottery is completed. You will be informed of any necessary changes.


*Similar trips include: Half Dome Backpacking Weekend, Yosemite Falls LoopHigh TourRed Peak Loop with Half Dome Summit

Trip Details

4 or 5 days

Group size
maximum 12 ppl

Difficulty Rating


$1295 per person on 4-day itinerary
$1395 per person on 5-day itinerary

price based on shared room occupancy Single Lodging Supplement (when available): Requested Single $165; Forced Single $80

Trip Dates 2020
June 24-28, 2020- 5 day Permit confirmed (3 spots remaining)
September 2-5, 2020
Custom dates & pricing available!


I just got back from my trip to Cloud's Rest and Half Dome. It was amazing and much more than I anticipated. I wanted to let you both know that Ashley was a fantastic guide!! As I mentioned to her last night when we parted, she was a great leader, she somehow knew exactly when one of us needed her words of encouragement and was also a fantastic cook! She also fostered a great sense of teamwork with the group (that was great as well). This was my first real backpacking trip and she helped make it a trip of a lifetime and the first of many more to come. In talking with the other participants of the trip, we all felt the same about her. I'm already thinking about the Yosemite Falls/Snow Creek trip next June. Thanks again for everything. I will definitely recommend SYMG to my friends and family.

-Joan S, 2018

Ryan was an absolute STAR on the trip and took everything in his stride. He was calm and professional at all times (and sings wonderfully too!). I would not have made it up Half Dome without his positive reinforcement.

-Miranda R, 2015