From WikiDotMako

Route Planning[edit]

Plan A[edit]

(unless Plan B becomes Plan A because this part of Yosemite is touristy):

Plan B[edit]

  • source for most of this info: Adam White in this discussion
  • Jesse started at Red's Meadow and said if he had to do it over again would do it that way again.

Start in Yosemite, and exit over Fernandez or Isberg Passes[edit]

  • These permits will not be affected by the Donohue Pass quota
  • there may be some bushwhacking, trail finding, or challenging crossings
  • easier to get a ride this way instead of starting outside Yosemite
  • Yosemite > Fernandez Pass > Clover Meadow > Iva Bell hot springs > JMT (either up to Purple Lake or straight down to VVR)
    • But this route requires getting two permits, one that continues from Clover Meadow. But you could actually have the second permit be the one that seeks to go to Whitney Portal or Horseshoe Meadows (your first permit then only needs to specify Clover Meadow as the end point).
    • If you go over Fernandez Pass to Fernandez TH you will need to walk a few miles along the road to get to Clover Meadows and then a couple of more miles of road walking to the Mammoth Th that gets you back onto the route to Reds Meadow. It's that road walking in the front country that necessitates a new permit.
    • map!
  • Yosemite at Mono Meadows > Isberg Pass > Iva Bell
    • Higher elevation start than in the valley saves elevation gain while packs are totally full.
    • If we can't get dropped of at Mono Meadows we can take the bus to Glacier Point, $25 per person. See this description.
    • map!

Start North or East of Yosemite, enter Yosemite and join the JMT and follow it over Donohue Pass[edit]

  • permits will come from Inyo or Humboldt Toiyabe National Forests, here. Permit applications accept March 1, only by snail mail.
  • You will still have impact on Lyell Canyon (where the quota is attempting to minimize impact), so this option might not sit well
  • Permit may be tough with concerns about backdoor stay in Yosemite: "fair warning, make your itinerary accurate, account for every day even zero days and try to only stay at the backpackers camp in Tuolumne....get in for resupply and then get the hell out. After hiking from crown lake over mule and burro pass and being alone for a while the crowds when you hit Tuolumne will be like nails on a chalkboard." yahoo
  • Start at the Robinson Creek trailhead in the Hoover Wilderness
    • Here's the route; You'll start from the Robinson Creek trailhead at Twin Lakes, and ascend Mule and Burro Passes, then follow Matterhorn Canyon to Virginia Canyon, then descend Cold Canyon to Glen Aulin, and follow the Tuolumne River to Tuolumne Meadows (and the JMT). The total distance is about 40 miles from the trailhead to Tuolumne Meadows (compared to about 22 for the JMT). From Tuolumne Meadows, follow the well-worn trail to Mt. Whitney.
    • Your trailhead is Robinson Creek, your first night could be Robinson Lakes (7.25 mi, 9,200 ft), Crown Lake (7.94 mi, 9,486 ft) or Matterhorn Canyon for permit purposes. You'll start outside of Inyo, so the Whitney exit quota won't apply to you. Feel free to exit at Whitney portal.
    • sample 17 day itinerary
  • start at Green Creek trailhead or Virginia Lakes trailhead.
    • Routes and profiles are here and here; same permit form as Robinson Creek, but use the appropriate trailhead. Distances to Tuolumne Meadows are 24-26 miles. I've not hiked either of these, but I'm sure many on here have. I imagine there's good camping in Virginia Canyon.
    • "Virginia Lakes is a great starting point. Camp a night or two at the campground, fee required, or camp dispersed for free. The area is around 9,800 feet and will help getting used to altitude. There is a restaurant and store at the resort there, haven't been in either. It's an easy first day from Virginia Lakes, climbing and following a good trail to a little over 11,000 ft. and entering Yosemite just past Summit Lake, then downhill to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail in Virginia Canyon. A trip of about 8 miles. Good camping if you cross the creek and follow the use trail upstream a 100 yards +/-. Depending on the season this might be the last water before Glen Aulin about 8 or 9 miles away. Toulumne Meadows is about 15 miles from the trail junction. You may reserve a permit from the Bridgeport Forest Service Office after March 1st. I did this route in 2013, left Virginia Lakes early morning, took a chance on water availability and spent the night in Cold Canyon just above Glen Aulin. Was in Toulumne Meadows by 11:00 a.m. to meet the wife with a resupply. The only strenuous part was the first climb out of Virginia Lakes and it's less than 1,500 ft. of gain." yahoo
    • Bridgeport Ranger Station (760) 932-7070

Start South of Yosemite, join the JMT South of Yosemite[edit]

  • skip Donohue Pass and Yosemite, but fear not, all of Yosemite on the JMT is eminently dayhike-able. Come back some other time and do it.
  • Permits will either be from Inyo National Forest (if you enter from the east, which is what I would recommend) or Sierra National Forest (if you enter from the west).
  • Start at the Rush Creek Trailhead, hike up Donohue from the South
    • People have bad things to say about the Rush Creek trailhead. I get it. It's no South Lake trailhead. It's hot; there are dams, and cart tracks, and you have to climb. It could even be a little dusty. So what? You're climbing to Thousand Island Lake, a gem of the Sierra. Quit complaining.
    • Route is here; my approach would be to hike out of Rush Creek, and drop your stuff at the JMT junction (aka Rush Creek crossing, 9.43 miles in). Either hike up and down Donohue that day (add another 8 miles) packless, or wake up and do it (packless) the next morning.
    • Skip the ascent of Donohue if you want to save 8 miles, and don't care about getting visiting Donohue Pass. But this approach gives you an opportunity to visit Donohue Pass, while respecting the impact to Lyell Canyon (and getting you up your first major pass packless!).
    • Permits are from Inyo National Forest at for the Rush Creek Trailhead wilderness permits (AA05). The Whitney Exit quota will apply, which might make getting this a little more difficult than the Hoover options above. Alternatively, don't exit at Whitney--do it at Cottonwood Lakes or Cottonwood Pass, just a bit south of Whitney, and don't worry about the quota.

Permit Application[edit]


  • Submit 2 Yosemite applications on March 9, one exiting Donahue and one exiting Isberg
  • Permit app date is 3/9 but we can fax starting 12pm on 3/8 (earlier is not better until 7am, apps get randomized)
  • If we don't get either of those, apply for Robinson/Virginia/Green (if we can figure out how to get to those trailheads in a timely manner) or Rush Creek or Reds Meadow...


  • complete and print the reservation form and instructions and fax the form to 209-372-0739. If you provide an eligible email address, you will receive an email within 1-2 business days stating whether your request was confirmed or denied.
  • In order to receive a permit with Donohue Pass as your exit point from Yosemite, you MUST start at Lyell Canyon, Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley, Happy Isles pass-through, Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley, or Sunrise Lakes. Other entrance trailheads will not be approved.
  • First night camp tip: "Either so long as it indicates somehow that you are past where the arrowhead is (if there is one). If in doubt, say Beyond ___. They just want to know that you know where you CAN camp. For example, Cathedral Lakes: Beyond Cathedral Lakes. For Lyell, I would say Beyond JMT/Ireland Lake trail junction. Mono Meadows: Mt Starr King Area should suffice (since the intersecting trails don't have names on the map). I try to find an easily identifiable place beyond where the arrowhead is, even if I am not really planning on staying there. As long as your actual first night stay follows the rules, you are fine. No one will compare the two. Also, if one of your options has a Dot instead of an Arrowhead, they want you to stay where the dot is."
    • Lyell start tip "On your first request, I would verify how far up Lyell Canyon. For example, "beyond Vogelsang/Ireland Lake Trail they know you know you can only camp beyond 4 trail miles from TM."
  • For Isberg Pass - individual trailhead quotas