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The Best Hikes in Sierra National Forest

72 Triplog Reviews in the Sierra National Forest
Most recent of 46 deeper Triplog Reviews
27.58 mi • 5,211 ft aeg
Tenaya Lake to Happy Isles
We took the 8 am shuttle to Tenaya Lake and got a late morning start. We set up camp just before the intersection and summited Clouds Rest with our day packs. Second day we went around the back of Clouds Rest through the burned area and set up camp near ish to the creek. Took a short break and then headed up Half Dome. It was definitely tricky waiting for people on the cables going up but coming back down was much clearer. There seemed to be a storm heading in Sunday night so headed out Sunday morning instead of Monday, which worked out better for weekday Mist Trail closures. Nice 3 day backpack and a much easier way to see Clouds Rest and Half Dome.
212 mi • 46,000 ft aeg
John Muir Trail
Hiked the John Muir Trail, heading southbound, from Tuolumne Meadows to Whitney Portal. Including a climb over Kearsarge Pass for resupply, the total distance was apx. 212 miles. I went solo, but can't really say that I was alone. I met a lot of cool people on the trail.

The smoke from the Ferguson fire was somewhat of an issue, but not enough to really affect progress on the trail. You will notice the smoke in some of the pictures. Once I got south of Vermillion Valley Resort, it was pretty much completely clear.

One of the aforementioned cool people was a gentleman from Cave Creek. It was great to meet someone who was familiar with our local trails. We talked about how important a resource HAZ is for us AZ residents.

It was a great experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who can free up a few weeks.

16.34 mi • 5,500 ft aeg
Bucket list hike. Kelly and I got to the parking lot at 6am. The plan was to hike up Mist Trail and down JMT. I believe Booneman suggested it that way. The temps were pretty good. Clouds not bad. We kept a close eye on the weather for our Safety First attitude. The hike up to Vernal Fall was a good workout especially with the steps. Another good reason to come back the JMT. You get to see a different trail and less steep without the steps. Nice waterfall. Nevada Fall was even bigger with another nice climb to get there. That's the intersection where we will take the JMT back down on our way back. Next you go over a little saddle and drop into Little Yosemite Valley. Very nice area along the Merced River. After a half mile or so you start climbing and wrap around to the Sub Dome. That's a pretty steep one but they have some nice steps and switchbacks. We thought 6am was early but we had already passed at least 50 people to this point. Kelly set a great comfortable pace. Now for the cables! People wise it wasn't a problem. I may have passed one person. Condition wise it was a workout. You really do kind of pull yourself along to each pole/board. Worked for it but what an awesome summit and great views. We hung out taking pics and walking around for a half hour or so. Going down the cables, the amount of people was growing. We found that going down backwards worked a lot better. Kelly went first and would warn me when the steps were coming so I didn't hit a shin. Most people were easy to work around and take turns with. One little jam up towards the bottom but not to bad. I had gloves but didn't use them. I could see where your hands could get friction hot. Then down the Sub Dome steps and the hard stuff was over. The way back down went really good and Kelly's pace was still great. Taking the JMT gives you the best view of Nevada Fall. A mile longer but not as step,no steps, and less people. Throw in the brief Bear sighting and it was a great way to finish. We got one more nice pic of Half Dome from a great vantage point between the trailhaed and our room. We don't usually splurge on these trips buttt. Kelly bought dinner and dessert at Yosemite Valley Lodge food court then we stayed the night at the lodge. A hot shower and soft bed just might relax us enough to do one more good hike on the way home tomorrow :o ! Awesome hike and Kelly helped make this go so smoothly! Much appreciated!! Like Haz, Kelly :yr: !
16.34 mi • 5,500 ft aeg
the main event
denny secretly put in for permits, and once he got them the trip was on
after some navigational difficulty by me, we set out from happy isles trailhead at 0600
starting early is key on these bigger hikes
just getting light enough to see mist trail
the steps to vernal fall were butt kickers
nice hiking along the merced river and seeing the falls
still gaining up to nevada fall, then an easier grade through little yosemite valley
the trail goes right next to the river, and it would be easy to filter here
another push up to subdome through the forest
subdome was steep, with steps cut into the rock, then continuing on granite bedrock
finally we were at the cables :o
we took a few photos, then headed on up
once i got into a rhythm, it was much less scary than it looked initially, but a lot more work
with our early start there were very few people ahead of us and we didn't have to wait for anyone
finally topped out and went up to the high point
again, great views of clouds rest, north dome, yosemite valley and more
very smoky today
we spent about 30 minutes wandering around the summit taking photos
decided to descend before the other 348 permit holders came up
crossed paths with a few people, but i can only imagine how crowded and backed up the cables get
a lot more people on subdome
the hard part over, we strolled through little yosemite valley
explored nevada fall for a few minutes
took the john muir trail back down - longer but more gradual
along the way, some russian guys ahead of us had spotted a black bear :)
that was a nice surprise
joined back up with the mist trail and dodged people the final mile or so
just as we finished, we got a little thundershower, so we were happy with our timing
a great experience, and i appreciate denny inviting me to hike it with him
thanks, partner!

random thoughts:
neither of us used gloves
no one checked our permits
aeg on my track seems high
i read the discussion on it, and dropped it down to the 5500 route scout shows on the screen
can't emphasize enough getting an early start
8.81 mi • 1,580 ft aeg
Yosemite Valley Tourist Day
Today was a day for plan B. Glacier Point Road was closed due to the fire crews staging there. We hit a some easier stuff in the valley instead. This was the most smoke haze we had seen so far. The morning Views of the Yosemite Valley were bad. Other views we got to see like the falls and such were not as bad. For sure better then the pics let on... It was nice to see some of the Yosemite Valley landmarks for the first time. We noticed the smoke easing up and gave Tunnel View another chance before sunset at it was a lot better. It was nice to look around in the valley and take it a little easier before tomorrows bigger hike.
8.81 mi • 1,580 ft aeg
Yosemite Valley Tourist Day
we packed up our camp at crane flat early and hit the road into yosemite valley
parked at the tunnel and hiked up to inspiration point on the pohono trail
extremely smoky this day, limiting views
a good hike anyway
next hit the very short trail to bridal veil fall
still flowing due to abundance of snow this year
made one stop across from el capitan and walked down to the river
we saw a doe with two fawns and a very nice view of el cap
parked at yosemite valley lodge where we would be staying the next two nights
did the easy loop to lower yosemite fall, also flowing well
jumped on the shuttle to mirror lake trailhead
there were a lot of gnats on this hike but we did the full loop anyway
back on the shuttle for lunch at the grill in the village, then checked into the lodge
ended up going back out to tunnel view close to sunset
photo ops were much better with less smoke
fun day doing most of the easy valley hikes
totally touristy for our first visit to the park
this was kind of a plan b since glacier point road was closed due to fire
172 mi • 31,180 ft aeg
Onion Valley to Happy Isles
This was my solo northbound journey from Onion Valley to Mammoth Lakes, CA and then from Tuolumne Meadows to Happy Isles northern in Yosemite Valley to complete my final 160 miles of the John Muir Trail. I hiked for 172 total miles over 14 days which included the entrance in from Onion Valley, 8 alpine passes, and some side trail mileage done at Muir Trail Ranch, Red's Meadow, Devil's Postpile, and Tuolumne Meadows.

The original plan was to hike for 18 days straight, meeting up with a friend on day 11 who would join me for the last 7 days. Part of that final week would be spent covering 4 days of trail that I had already completed back in 2015. When my friend had to cancel after I was already on the trail, I chose to take 4 zero days in Mammoth Lakes to heal my feet and enjoy some luxuries. I reconvened with the JMT for the final 3 days of trail that I had yet to complete, making this a 2-section adventure all in one trip to close the gaps of the remaining miles of this amazing trail.
11.07 mi • 1,100 ft aeg
Part 2 of day 3 hikation. After enjoying Glacier Point with my wife for a coupe of hours, we headed down via the Panorama Trail. The first 2.5 miles is pretty much all down hill along the exposed northern flank of Glacier Point. There are several switchbacks, until you get to a long stretch that gradually descends eastward. As you descend, Illilouette Falls comes into view. One of three falls that were actively flowing in Yosemite Valley during my visit. At .7 miles my wife turned around and headed back to the car. She was going to take in the scenes from the car and meet me at the bottom. At 1.6 miles there was a split in the trail (can't remember what destinations were being offered down that eastern avenue). At 2.5 miles reached Illilouette Falls. Wandered upstream a bit to get pictures. (Wife insisted that I take the camera with me on the hike. Dang thing strapped, chafed, around my neck, kept thumping into my chest the entire journey. I think I bruised my chest. Got close to 200 hundred pictures, but it is the first, and last time I take a camera on a hike. Talk about a pain in the neck! Literally!). After Illilouette, comes the only major climb of the hike. Garmin showed about 1100 ft in 1.1 miles. Not sure about the elevation gain. Another write up mentioned 700ft. Took some more pictures from Panorama Point. Very scary. :scared: Straight drop. 1000 ft(?). No fencing. Not for the faint of heart. (If anyone finds a heart, please mail it to Brian, post box....I think I lost mine somewhere around that cliff) :lol: At 4.7 miles, hit another split in the trail. Took a picture of the trail sign for later reference. None of the mentioned destinations seem to be close by, all seemed to be 10 miles or more away. At about 7 miles, hit Neveda Falls. The lay of the land allowed for some great photo ops. Took a short break here to enjoy the views. Ironically, after having read some other write ups (after my hike) I think I missed the Mist Trail. After Neveda Falls, I backtracked to the Panorama Trail, which was now being called the John Muir Trail. I think if I had continued toward Half Dome, from Nevada Falls, I would have intersected the Mist Trail. As it was I continued down the Panorama/Muir Trail to Vernal Falls. By this time the battery was dying in the camera and I was running late for my meet up with my wife, so I stopped being a snap-happy tourist and started hiking. Took the quicker of two routes from Vernal. Had another Piestewa flashback, as I encountered 100+ plus stairs leading down from the Falls. Similar to what you see near the top of Piestewa. The last mile of the Panorama/Muir s paved. In fact there were indications that at one time the trail was paved all the way to Illilouette Falls, or at least prevalently so. Once again Mother Nature had eroded all but traces of it. Trail was busy all the way through, but got busier the closer you got to the bottom. Wildlife was minimal. A lot of squirrels and one very in afraid deer.
1.1 mi • 261 ft aeg
No water in the falls. Tall trees. Lots of people.

Sat next to falls viewing area on a bench and watch rock climbers scaling wall through binoculars. Cheering when they got to the top - listening to all the people in different languages in shock/awe tracking the little specks of climbers. Huge French contingent - - exciting to use that rarely used high school skill to translate for Brad.

Went to lavish dinner at the fancy hotel and had drinks outside at sunset (@azchumley's advice) - he should be a romance concierge for outdorsy-people. But since I was the one planning things - not as romantic in real life - but as the controlling force in marriage - it's just the way things work. I plan - he follows and pays - everyone is happy.

Since our home base was Mariposa - we brought extra clothes and deodorant. Parked near Ahwahnee Hotel right after lunch - that was smart. Tiny nap in the car then walked to Lower Falls - walked back to car - changed clothes - deodorant shower - brushed hair - heels/purse/eyeliner - and went in for dinner #likeAboss. Somehow we got back to Mariposa.
1.1 mi • 261 ft aeg
Lower Yosemite Fall is pretty nice, you can also get a view of both upper and lower at once here. Be warned that this is a paved trail, and near Yosemite Village so pretty much everyone who has entered the park that day will be at this trail. It was crowded. You still get some awesome views though. If you visit Yosemite, you need to check it out.

https://youtube.com ... SZtc
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