Mount Dana is the second highest peak in Yosemite National Park at 13,057 feet. The highest is Mount Lyell at 13,120, but that peak requires a technical climb to summit. A well worn and distinct use trail goes from the Tioga Pass entrance station to the visible peak. The trail begins at a large tree that the ranger pointed out to us. It's a straightforward hike with no false summits.
The first half mile or so ascends gradually along the edge of Dana meadow between some of the Dana lakes. The grade becomes steeper with very tight switchbacks as you climb above tree line. The terrain is a mix of dirt, scree and boulders, but the footing is generally good. There are very few route finding issues, especially on the descent. About halfway up, there is a bench with an easier grade for several hundred yards, offering a chance to catch a breath. There are a few large cairns. The final mile or so is a mix of talus, scree and larger boulders. With a 3,000 foot gain over essentially two and a half miles, it's a worthy peak.
The summit area is small and has a benchmark and a register. The register is a PVC pipe full of crumbling paper; not worth trying to sign. Views are wonderful, especially of Mono Lake, 5500 feet below. Immediately to the east is the head of glacier canyon, which looks like a volcano crater. Many high sierra peaks are visible, as are numerous lakes surrounding Tioga Pass.
This peak does get some traffic, at least enough to maintain the unofficial trail. We saw half a dozen people on a Friday afternoon. The only wildlife we saw was a big fat marmot.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This is a moderately difficult hike.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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