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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.
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.
This wonderful, weekender friendly backpack trip traverses the northern rim of Yosemite’s spectacular valley. It includes some of the best views of Half Dome in the entire park, an exhilarating hike alongside North America’s tallest waterfall (2,425’), and sweeping vistas of the high peaks of southern Yosemite. Moderate distances and mileages on the trail ensure time to enjoy camp as well as the myriad of photo opportunities along the way.
Accommodations: Two nights of tent camping.
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 from lunch on day one through lunch on 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.
We recommend staying at Curry Village on the night prior to your trip. The rooms are simple, rustic tent cabins and easy to book. Call 1-801-559-4884 to reserve on your own. You could also stay at Yosemite Lodge or The Ahwahnee in Yosemite Valley. Contact us for further assistance regarding lodging options.
Day 1: Will meet after breakfast at the Curry Village Mountain Shop at 9am. We will leave our cars in the backpacker parking lot and take free shuttle to the trailhead. From there, we’ll set off to gain the north rim of Yosemite Valley and the top of Yosemite Falls (2,425’). After we enjoy the spectacular and improbable falls lookout point, we’ll travel another .5 mile or through evergreen forests to camp. At our creekside camp we’ll enjoy refreshing swimming holes, followed by a gourmet backcountry dinner prepared by your guide(s). Although the overall mileage is short today, there is a steady steep climb most of the day and elevation gain is nearly 3,000’.
Day 2: After crossing the mighty Yosemite Creek in the morning (there is a bridge!) we’ll continue along the rim to Yosemite Point lookout. Our route then continues through the Lehamite and Indian Creek drainages, eventually leading us to our camp at the incredible Snow Creek promontory with up-close views of Mt Watkins and Half Dome. After dinner, plan on enjoying a spectacular night of stargazing. The day’s mileage is about 9 miles with ups and downs of 1800’ up and 1200’ down.
Day 3: Today we’ll pack our backpacks on final time and bid adieu to our high camp. We’ll head down the Snow Creek Falls trail to Mirror Lake, exiting on the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. There we can continue the additional mile back to Curry Village or we can grab the free shuttle if we feel like it. 5 miles and a 2700’ loss in elevation get us back to our vehicles around noon.
*Note that while this trip is rated moderate overall, the climb on Day 1 up Yosemite Falls is quite substantial and qualifies as "Challenging". You'll want to train with an eye toward leg strengthening using a combination of gym workouts, stair climbinb, and hiking in your local area with a fully weighted pack. The good news is that the day's overall mileage is short, which means we can take our time and take plenty of breaks.
$695 per person
I just went on the Yosemite Falls Loop backpacking trip last week...it was awesome, btw! Wilson and Scott were so great!!!
-Mandy B, 2015
We wanted share with your organization what an incredible experience we had with your guide Chris Plewa. Chris took us on a wonderful three day backpacking trip through the Yosemite Falls-Snow Creek Loop. He was delightful to be around, professional, prompt, very positive, kind and encouraging, an amazing backcountry chef and obviously very knowledgable both about backpacking and about the park.
-Rachel Q, 2014
It is crazy twist of fate that Rachel and I were able to have the trip to ourselves and Chris, of course. Chris mentioned that there were other people that signed up but then had to cancel. Well I proposed to Rachel on Saturday at the second nights camp/overlook across from half dome. Thanks goes to Chris for being a helping hand for taking some pictures for us. This trip is just what we needed to see all of what backpacking for short trips could be with the amazing food and good planning. I will be sending another e-mail shortly to sing the praises of SYMG and to say thanks again for not only changing the way Rachel feels about backpacking, but allowing me a great opportunity to change Rachel's and my relationship forever. She said yes!!
-Matt B, 2014
I had a really great time hiking, Greg. Thank you for being such a great guide. You were always helpful and considerate. I felt like I always had to time stop and enjoy the scenery or take a picture. I learned so much and I can't wait to go back on my own or with friends. I've told friends and family about the trip and none of them believe how well I ate. The food really was delicious even if we weren't in the wilderness. I was able to see everything on the list you gave me: Bridalveil falls, Glacier point, Sentinel dome, the tunnel, Yosemite falls, Grizzly tree and California trees. It meant a lot more to do the "tourist" things after the trip because I could see how much I'd accomplished. I could see all of the places we'd hiked...and it was a lot! I didn't get home until 1am but it was worth it.
-Jason R, 2013