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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.

Red Peak Loop

 Red Peak Yosemite Backpack SYMG

About the trip

The Red Peak Pass Loop is a 52-mile route through the heart of Yosemite. It spends equal time in the most remote and also most iconic regions of the park. Highlights include the rugged Red Peak Pass, hiking alongside the cascading “Wild and Scenic” Merced River, and a lakeside camp beneath the ice fields of the stunning Ottoway Lakes Basin. Expect challenging days, incredible scenery, and memories that will last a lifetime.


5 nights tent camping, one night at Half Dome Village within Yosemite Valley in tented cabins with shared bathrooms.


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, sleeping 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.


We provide meals starting with lunch on day one 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), Trailhead shuttle on Day 1, 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, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), 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.

Full Itinerary

Day 1:

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

Day 2:

After an early breakfast on your own, you’ll meet your guide at 8:30 am on the porch of the Half Dome Village Mountain Shop. There, we’ll do a final gear check and pack our backpacks. We’ll board the trailhead shuttle at 10:30 for the 1-hour transfer to the trailhead. We’ll then lace up our boots and hit the trail. Today sees us into the Illilouette Creek drainage, and we’ll camp along the banks of the Clark Fork below the towering Mt Clark (11,522’). 7 miles

Day 3:

From the Clark Fork, we’ll climb gradually all day under the shadow of the imposing peaks of the Clark Range. Below Red Peak, we’ll turn toward the main ridge, eventually arriving at the spectacular Ottoway Lakes. We’ll have time to swim and clean up beneath the ice fields of the upper mountain basin. This is where, in the late 1800’s, John Muir himself discovered the first “living glacier” of the High Sierra. 9 miles.

Day 4:

Today we’ll hit the trail to tackle what is surely the most challenging part of our route: Red Peak Pass. At 11,200’ the pass grants us access back to the northern part of the Clark Range and into the Red Devil Lakes Basin and it is also renowned as the highest point on-trail in Yosemite. We’ll travel through alpine meadows of the upper lakes basin, eventually joining the Merced River below Triple Divide Peak (11,611’). We’ll make camp there, among the flowering meadows and Lodgepole Pines. 8 miles

Day 5:

Leaving our alpine meadow, we’ll spend today descending along the designated “Wild and Scenic” Merced River. Along the way we’ll encounter plenty of wildflower meadows, waterfalls and swimming holes to distract us. In the afternoon we’ll arrive to the Merced Lake area where we will make camp. 10 miles

Day 6:

After another hearty breakfast we’ll pack up and continue following the trail downstream. You’ll notice how the river is much more substantial here after absorbing the flows of the many side creeks and drainages of the upper basin. Roaring whitewater and rushing cascades dominate our day as we head toward Little Yosemite Valley. We’ll pitch our tents there for the final evening, and we can enjoy a late afternoon swim at the beach along the Merced River. 9 miles

Day 7:

We'll be up and out of camp early today and, donning our packs one final time, we’ll follow the trail to Yosemite Valley. The final stretches of our route are as exceptional as the rest, past the rushing Vernal and Nevada Waterfalls along the famous Mist Trail. Expect to exit the trailhead by about lunchtime, where hot showers and cold drinks await. Mileage: 5.5 mi, Elevation Gain and Loss: +673' / -2802'


*Similar trips include: Yosemite High Passes LoopYosemite Grand TraverseRae Lakes Loop

Trip Details

7 days

Group size
maximum 13 ppl

Difficulty Rating


$1,695 per person price based on shared room occupancy Single Lodging Supplement (when available): Requested Single $165; Forced Single $80

2020 Trip Dates
July 27-August 2, 2020
August 10-16, 2020


Mission accomplished and many, many thanks for making it possible. Zeki had an amazing experience with diverse weather, plenty of wildlife, and campfires with freshly caught trout. Chris and he covered more miles than the original plan and seemed to get along well. I'm sure we will be back to explore more of Yosemite. With thanks and best wishes, GB.

-Ghillie B, 2015