Join this 6-day hiking adventure in California's High Sierra, which highlights the best of Yosemite National Park. This excursion covers a lot of terrain in a short amount of time, from gigantic sequoia trees to the magnificent Cathedral Lakes, to the massive Half Dome rock and roaring waterfalls of the fittingly named Mist Trail. Most importantly, you get to enjoy Yosemite in relative comfort, courtesy of transportation to and from trailheads and lodging in a cozy mountain lodge. This trip teaches you about the area's Native American and pioneer history, as well as the essential work being done to preserve and maintain it.
Enjoy an easy, downhill hike to the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias.
Hike the iconic Cathedral Lakes for some of the best High Sierra views.
Visit California’s gold rush era state’s oldest continuously operating saloon.
Take a short trek along the shores of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
Welcome to SF! California’s Golden Gate City is packed, with plenty of things to do, from exploring the city’s famous Chinatown to digging into fresh crab at Fisherman’s Wharf to wandering through the oldest Japanese tea garden in the USA. Your day is free until our welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight, so if you arrive in town early, feel free to go out and see the sights. After your group meeting, head out for a welcome dinner together and feast on some local cuisine.
After breakfast, head out for the famous Yosemite National Park, with a lunch stop along the way at the historic Iron Door Saloon, the oldest continuously operating saloon in California dating back to the mid-1800s. Check out the saloon’s old photos of the Hetch Hetchy valley and the collection of antique gold mining tools. Look around closely and you might even spot a few stray bullet holes in the walls. After lunch, enjoy your first walk today – an easy, downhill hike – at the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. The grove is home to, no surprise, a couple dozen mature giant sequoia trees, including one that’s been carved into a tunnel that can walk right through. Your return upward climb will be rewarded once you arrive at your accommodation. While many visitors to Yosemite stay in campsites, you’ll get to unwind at Yosemite Bug, a cozy and charming mountain lodge that features a garden deck and views over the gorge. Settle into your home for the next few days and soak up the rustic atmosphere.
Iron Door Saloon visit
Tuolumne Grove hike
Hiking Distance: Approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) roundtrip, with 400 feet (120 m) elevation loss to the grove.
After breakfast, start the day to the trailhead for the famous Cathedral Lakes, approximately 2 hours away by a vehicle. It’s all worth it as this hike reveals some of the most impressive views in the High Sierra. Soak up the jaw-dropping, high-altitude scenery of the Lower and or Upper Cathedral lakes that are worth every step of your 3- to 5-hour hike. If you’re concerned about the difficulty and altitude levels, you’ll be given a choice of different routes, depending on the group’s comfort and abilities. Back in Yosemite Bug, you may want to enjoy dinner in their fantastic restaurant, where the menu changes daily.
Cathedral Lakes hike
Hiking Distance: Approximately 7 miles (11 km) roundtrip to Upper or Lower Cathedral Lakes, or 8 miles (12.5 km) roundtrip to see both. Trailhead elevation is 8500 ft (2590 m), heading up to 9290 feet (2830 m) for Lower Cathedral Lake and 9600 feet (2925 m) for Upper Cathedral Lake. While this altitude is not considered ‘high’, it is important you stay hydrated and inform your Tour Leader in case you feel dizziness, headache, or any other symptoms of altitude sickness.
Today, the drive to the start of the trail is shorter (approximately 1 hour), but the hike is no less incredible. The Mist Trail is Yosemite's signature hike. While many of the park's hikes leave the best views for the end, this trail is scattered, with fabulous views along the whole route, including a few waterfalls (be sure to pack your rain gear as the falls are close to the trail and you will get sprayed). Get to see Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome rock formation. It was once believed that the Half Dome was completely inaccessible to climbers until George Anderson reached the summit in 1875. Over a century later, famed climber Alex Honnold, star of the 2017 documentary Free Solo, would hold the record for the fastest ascent of the Half Dome’s Regular Northwest Face route – the first Grade IV climb in the USA. In the evening, rest up back at Yosemite Bug, where, weather permitting, your guide can stoke a roaring campfire.
Mist Trail signature hike
Hiking Distance: Approximately 7 miles (11 km) roundtrip to Nevada Fall with an elevation gain of 1900 ft (580 m).
Today is slightly different, with a free morning for you to enjoy your way. You can take a shuttle to Yosemite Valley for more hiking on your own, or perhaps to visit local museums, rent a bike, or anything else that interests you. Or, you may want to sign up for white water rafting (additional cost) with a company that’s right next door to your accommodation. Your tour leader will be able to help you with arrangements. In the afternoon, your group will do rendezvous for an included walk with an expert guide from Yosemite Conservancy. This unique opportunity to learn about the important work the group does for the Native American community and preserving their culture within the park. As you walk from the historic Ahwahnee Hotel through the meadows of Yosemite Valley and past the ruins of an old pioneer village, you’ll hear Native American stories and history, and learn about Yosemite’s role in the country’s conservationist movement. Your guided walk will end at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, where your leader will be waiting to transport you back to Yosemite Bug for your final night.
Yosemite Valley Conservancy exclusive walk
The Ahwahnee historic lodge visit
Day 6: Hetch Hetchy Reservoir | San Francisco | Return Home
For your last day, enjoy a short hike on the shores of the beautiful Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Not only is this area stunning to see, but it’s also an important historic site for conservationists – the controversy surrounding the construction of the Hetch Hetchy Dam helped lead to the creation of the US National Park Service in 1916. You’ll then drive back to San Francisco, aiming to arrive around 5 pm to 6 pm, at which point your Yosemite adventure ends and, you are free to begin your trip home at your leisure.
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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.