Yosemite hike suggestions
September 15, 2010 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Yosemite hike itinerary suggestions for a short stay (next week)? Also, a couple of general Yosemite questions inside.

Looking for suggestions of some good hikes for this time of year. This is probably a once in a lifetime trip for us, so I want it to be good!
We're arriving around 3PM on 9/21, and have until about 5PM on 9/23 (the main falls are dry). Our lodging is in Yosemite Village for two nights.

We don't mind doing multiple smaller hikes in a day if that is the best way to see the park, but we're definitely up for more challenging hikes. We're marathon-type people, so fitness won't be an issue, but we're coming from Connecticut, so the altitude could be a problem.

Now for the general Yosemite questions:
1) Is Half Dome really and truly worth it? If you've done it, how long did it take?
2) Is it bad form to go for a run on the paved bicycle trail?
3) Anyone know how much the breakfast buffet is in Curry Village?
4) Talk to me about the altitude... is it worth being concerned over, and is there anything we should know?
5) The full moon tram tours are being done at this time, are they good?
posted by smalls to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
1) A friend on Facebook just posted her pictures of her climb of the Half Dome. If you aren't afraid of heights, it looks like a mind-blowingly beautiful experience. Even in 2D, just breathtaking. She is neither a marathon person nor does she come from high altitudes, and she was able to get up there.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 1:21 PM on September 15, 2010


I'm a somewhat out of shape East Coast city dweller who has been to Yosemite for weddings twice now.

1) Keep in mind you now need a permit to climb Half Dome (at least in the summer). Check that out before you go - and don't be surprised if they're out already, Yosemite is an amazingly popular park.

4) I'm from sea level and I had no appreciable problems with the altitude.

Additional info: I highly recommend driving up to Glacier Point and had a wonderful time on the Taft Point hike - which is a very short hike. Maybe 90 minutes, generously, round trip? The Sentinal Dome hike looked similar. There was some trail that was supposed to be more challenging that continued on from Taft Point - look in to that?

I absolutely hated the hike to Vernal Falls - a paved path, way too many people, all straight uphill... but most people like it. *shrug*

If you want to see redwoods, I recommend the Wawona/Mariposa grove over those north of the Valley. I found those (I forget the name, sorry) disappointing compared to the immense trees in the south.
posted by maryr at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I recommend considering Cloud's Rest instead of Half Dome. As mentioned above, Half Dome permits are required when the cables are up (they are usually up through Columbus Day, weather permitting). I did Cloud's Rest last year in late September and thought it was a great time of year to do it. Plus, you wind up with a dramatic view on Half Dome: My pictures from the hike on flickr.

Feel free to email me with any questions about this specific hike. My only advice is that I started around 6 am and made the peak before 9. On the way back down I passed dozens (maybe a hundred people) heading up. Start early and avoid the zoo...as mentioned above, Yosemite is a popular place. Starting early also lets you gain altitude without being in direct, hot sun. Even in September this makes a big difference. Also remember to drink lots of water, and on long hikes consider equipment like a filter and pump so you can replenish your supplies mid route. On the way to Cloud's Rest there is a small stream where you can fill up if you can pump or purify.
posted by handful of rain at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meant to say above...Half Dome permits are required *on weekends* when the cables are up. So you are actually okay with your dates.
posted by handful of rain at 1:54 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


And a word about the crowds - the Labor Day holiday weekend is the 'end of summer' in Yosemite, so the crowds are greatly diminished - back to school and all (I lived in the valley from Labor Day through the vernal equinox about a million years ago). The park is great this time of year, some facilities start closing for the winter soon, but the weather is warm in the daytime and delightfully nippy at night. The leaves are starting to change, too.

You'll miss the full moon by a few hours, but it might be full enough that if you take the tram tour, you just might get a glimpse of a moon rainbow in the mist of one of the waterfalls (they're not completely dry.

I envy you - have a great time!
posted by DandyRandy at 2:08 PM on September 15, 2010


At the end of this August, Bridalveil, Vernal, and Nevada Falls still had lots of water, but Yosemite Falls (upper and lower) was bone dry.
posted by maryr at 2:16 PM on September 15, 2010


Just got back from Yosemite two weeks ago.

1) Is Half Dome really and truly worth it? If you've done it, how long did it take?
A group in our party was planning on doing Half Dome but they didn't for whatever reason. From our looking into it (none of us have) it is definitely an all day thing. We were camped in Upper Pines near Happy Isles and you could see the half dome folks heading up before light and hiking back in the dark.

Permits are required on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There will be rangers checking. They will ask you how the hike was, and when you tell them how awesome it was, they say great, can we see your permit? We saw this happen.

2) Is it bad form to go for a run on the paved bicycle trail?
Not at all. We had a caravan of experienced cyclists with our group and spent a lot of time just riding around. Be aware though that there is a huge fleet of rental cruisers in the valley with tourists from all over the world, with vastly different concepts of paved trail etiquette. I was actually stopped by a couple from Texas so that they could commend me for saying "on your left". I watched a pedestrian/bike collision on the road to mirror lake.

My only suggestion would be to stop and look around. The views from pretty much everywhere are amazingly beautiful and unique.

3) Anyone know how much the breakfast buffet is in Curry Village?
We didn't eat at the Curry Village buffet, as it was ~$15 per person for dinner, and I want to say the breakfast was >$10, but I can't recall. There do have really good ice cream in the same building though, and the pizza joint is pretty good but not crazy priced - $24.95 for a large combo. Go check out the Awhanee if you want to drop some coin.

4) Talk to me about the altitude... is it worth being concerned over, and is there anything we should know?
You say you are pretty fit, so I wouldn't worry about it.

5) The full moon tram tours are being done at this time, are they good?
I didn't know they have these. Maybe next year!


You might watch the weather and make sure to pack accordingly. The week we were there it was highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, which isn't too wierd as you are in the mountains, but things have been strangely cool this summer in Nor/Mid Cal. We are supposed to have rain this weekend, which really shouldn't be happening until late Oct/Nov.
posted by Big_B at 2:28 PM on September 15, 2010


Ack! I missed the other itinery items part:

Last year we hiked up to the bottom of Nevada Falls and ate lunch. Then we drove up to Glacier Point the same day. It's really hard to describe with words, but looking down at Nevada Falls and saying "We were just there!" from Glacier Point is awesome.

Go to Glacier Point.
posted by Big_B at 2:33 PM on September 15, 2010


Coming from Boston with little training, I went August 3 and 4 to Yosemite. I started Half Dome around 7:45 AM after taking the shuttle to stop 16, and made it to the base of the cables around noon. Resting each half hour. I took the John Muir trail up, and the Vernal/Nevada falls down. It is best to do John Muir since it is easier switchbacks rather than killer granite steps. Bring gloves for the cables and depending on the weekday you may need a permit. I brought Home Depot garden gloves and made it fine on a Tuesday. The crowds keep you tied up so bring a carabiner and tie in rope and you can utalize the outside of the cables if you are willing to risk it. I think overall it was a worthy challenge. Altitude isn't that noticable until you are 5 or so miles in where you can tell if you are in shape. Bring plenty of water since no stations are past the Happy Isles.

We saw runners doing the half dome trails so it was probably a good high altitiude training run for a marathoner.

In addition: A six mile trek from Wawona to Maripossa Grove, Wawona Meadow Loop and The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias are easy, shaded parts in the South part of the park. However, they are doing major construction on route 41 within the park and is best checked at the shuttle areas.

Enjoy.
posted by brent at 3:04 PM on September 15, 2010


There bears near there have been known to get into cars if there is food in them. So when the signs tell you to put your food in the lockers near the trail heads unless you want to risk your car being in something of a state of disarray when you get back.

Food storage information!

You didn't specifically ask about this in your question, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.
posted by elder18 at 3:07 PM on September 15, 2010


So when the signs tell you to put your food in the lockers near the trail heads unless you want to risk your car being in something of a state of disarray when you get back.

One year, we were woken up in our Curry Village tent cabin by a park ranger waking up our neighbors, because the ranger saw a cooler in their vehicle. Save the bears, your car, and your restful sleep—always use the food lockers!
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:39 PM on September 15, 2010


An easy pair of hikes for the first day, if you're concerned about acclimating to altitude (which is a challenge for me) is Sentinel Dome & Taft Point, which are gorgeous hikes off the Glacier Point Road overlooking the valley. Neither is particularly crowded, and both have instantly recognizable panoramic views made famous by Ansel Adams.
posted by judith at 9:14 PM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Most of the hikes mentioned here were ones I had my eye on, so it's good to get some backup. Half Dome does not require permits on weekdays, although there are rumors that they will be moving this way.
posted by smalls at 7:07 AM on September 16, 2010


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