Tahoe to Whitney Permit Nightmare????

By shiveringman - Posted on 17 February 2016

I am trying to plan a Tahoe to Whitney walk, along the PCT/JMT, this summer.

I am finding that I can get as far as YNP but WILL BE STUCK THERE due to the Donahue exit quota.

I have found that getting a backcountry permit outside of YNP does not allow me to traverse the park and exit Lyell Canyon/Donahue Pass. Any help here?? Stevo


Tracking Weird High Sierra Permit Restrictions



Alex Wierbinski's picture

I emailed a query about the LTBMU only issuing "PCT" permits for all long distance Southbound backpackers to the public info officers at LTBMU asking them to forward it the the trails manager.

Gay, the one of the nice people who do phone permits at LTBMU is also pursuing the contradictions of their stupid new permit policy up the chain of command...

Stay Tuned!

More Information forthcoming!

Alex Wierbinski

Alex, I am experiencing the same sort of confusion -- depending on who you talk to, the permits issued by LTBMU are good for all wilderness areas south or they are not (my three calls to the Yosemite NP back country office have resulted in two "yes, those permits are fine for wandering off the PCT" and one "it depends on what kind of permit it is." Sheesh.

A ranger at Humboldt-Toiyabe NF/Hoover Wilderness who was helping me trouble-shoot this suggested hitching from Sonora Pass to Bridgeport (about 35 miles -- yikes) whereupon he would write me a permit to do the parts of the Sierra High Route that I want to do when I get that far south. Or hitching/hiking the five miles from Sonora Pass to Leavitt Meadows where there is a non-quota, self-issue permit station -- the difficulty there is the lower likelihood of that self-issued permit being accepted should one encounter a ranger in the back country. Do you have any updates to share?



Alex Wierbinski's picture

This is the first I've heard of any restrictions on permits issued by North Sierra National Forests/Wilderness Areas, except Hoover not issuing permits out of Twin Lakes across Donohue Pass, which started last year.

Other than that, Stanislaus, the El Dorado and LTBMU were issuing permits beginning in their forests and ending anywhere.

Your note indicates you tried to pull a permit from the LTBMU. I have heard NOTHING about permit restrictions out of the LTBMU. Let's do some research.

Calling LTBMU at Lake Tahoe.

Speaking to Gay, a wonderful lady.


OK, to set the stage, the classic Wilderness Permit is issued by the Ranger District of the Forest administering your beginning trailhead. That permit HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD FOR ALL SUBSEQUENT FORESTS, PARKS, AND WILDERNESS AREAS SPECIFIED ON THE PERMIT.

The only exceptions being the "Whitney Portal" sticker era, and certain prohibitions in Yosemite, such as the requirement a separate permit be obtained for Half Dome.

Last year (2015) Yosemite announced the Donohue Pass exit quota to curb folks starting the JMT from other than the official JMT Trailhead at Happy Isles. This was complimented by the Hoover Wilderness refusing to write permits crossing Donohue Pass.

Also See



Called the LTBMU 2-17-16 and had a nice discussion with Gay, working in the LTBMU main office issuing permits.

Gay had been instructed to write all long distance backpacking permits as PCT permits. This permit is specific to the PCT, and allows passage through Yosemite and Donohue without problem.

The problem is that the previous long-distance permit policy, as described above, has been suspended. In practice this means that the LTBMU has stopped issuing long distance backpacking permits for trips other than along the PCT route!

Gay understands the flaw in this new policy for long distance permits and is currently running our inquiry up the chain of command. I would not have been able to hike any of my five TW trips under this new policy!

Each trip would have been exactly the same, rather than delightfully different.

The target I am shooting for is the LTBMU to resume writing custom permits that differentiate between long distance hikers on the PCT and those of us crafting unique routes down the Sierra Crest.

It seems a forest manager announced a bone-headed policy when instructing the LTBMU permit writers to treat all long distance backpackers as PCT hikers!

That's OK for section hikers, but totally insufficient-IT PROHIBITS about every other long distance backpacker from crafting unique routes down the Sierra Crest. Not Cool.

Are they are trying to fit square pegs in round holes? No Permit for You!

I fear the confusion may spread. It appears that Yosemite has been screwing around with other forests, apparently attempting to put up some barriers to us random long-distance backpackers hiking through Yosemite on our way South from Tahoe, or other points North...

They are trying to classify us all as PCT hikers... They need to read the trail guide...

Let me know if any of you encounter weird permit policies from other High Sierra Forests.


Oh, and I just put in an email to the public affairs officer at Hoover last week about the status of last year's Donohue Pass restrictions. I assume that Yosemite is maintaining their Donohue Pass exit quota, and that IT WILL NOT APPLY TO OTHER LONG DISTANCE BACKPACKERS WHEN WE GET THIS ALL CLARIFIED.

If I get a wild hair up my ass I will attempt to pull a LTBMU permit starting out of Meeks Bay, and alternating between the PCT and TYT down to Yosemite, then backwards down the JMT to Happy Isles from TM.

It sounds like that would now make their heads explode...

Also See

Permit Nightmare?


LTBMU Permits


Yosemite National Park Permits


Alex Wierbinski

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