Planning the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail backpacking trip

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 21 October 2014

Planning the Tahoe to Yosemite Backpacking Trip

Applicable to The Pacific Crest and John Muir Trail Routes, too...

This is our discussion and resources for planning our 173.83 miles covering the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail backpacking trip as discussed and described on the Tahoe to Whitney trail guide:

Planning the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail backpacking trip

Let's look at the outlines of hiking from Tahoe to Yosemite...


Five Sections

There are five sections of trail composing the length of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. These  sections roughly correspond with the boundaries of the wilderness areas we are going to cross as we hike across them between the major mountain passes, where the major trans-Sierra highways cross the North Sierra, which also roughly divides the five major watersheds we're going to hike across between Tahoe and Yosemite.


Let's do the Maps


Desolation Wilderness

All Desolation Maps

Meiss Country



Mokelumne Wilderness



Carson Iceberg Wilderness



Emigrant Wilderness



North Yosemite Backcountry


(Click the routes for detailed maps, red dots along routes for trail guide pages.)


Resupply Spots

There are three resupply points along the way.

High Sierra Resupply Points


Two Flanks

The Tahoe to Yosemite route is only one way South. We have the option of hiking either the Tahoe to Yosemite or the Pacific Crest Trails across the middle-two of these five sections between Tahoe and Yosemite, while the PCT and the TYT share the trail through the Northern and Southern sections, the beginning and ending sections of both routes through the Tahoe Basin and North Yosemite. Getting between those two points offers lots of options!

The Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trails are deeply linked across the two wilderness areas their routes diverge, being the Carson Iceberg and Emigrant Wilderness Areas, where we can craft a lot of unique routes up and down the Sierra Crestline and its two high flanks.

My point is that not only can we can hike the TYT or PCT routes from Lake Tahoe to Tuolumne Meadows, but we can craft a whole lot of custom routes using elements of both as we hike across the Carson Iceberg and Emigrant Wilderness Areas.

Miles and Elevations from Tahoe to Yosemite on the TYT and PCT

The TYT and PCT share the trail across Desolation Wilderness and the Meiss Country Roadless Areas and are divided hiking across the Mokelumne, Carson Iceberg, and Emigrant Wilderness areas.

We might want to subsititute the PCT sections for the TYT's segments of unmaintained trails in the Mokelumne and Carson Iceberg Wilderness areas, if we are not up for hiking unmaintained trails.
The link below brings us to a set of tables measuring each section of both the TYT and PCT between Lake Tahoe to Tuolumne Meadows.

Miles and Elevations from Tahoe to Yosemite on the TYT and PCT

As with all long distance backpacking trips spanning numerous Forests, Wilderness, and Parks, only a single permit will be required to hike the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.
 That permit will be issued by the National Forest administering our starting trailhead. The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit administers the whole watershed of the Lake Tahoe Basin, so we'll need to talk to them for our Tahoe to Yosemite permit:

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

New Permit Problems?

 Besides being the place to bring together resupply information scattered across the trail guide, this page for planning a Tahoe to Yosemite hike and the backpacking trip planning section of the forum are for your comments and questions about resupplying for the Tahoe to Yosemite hiking trip.

Not just feedback, but I seek your input too.

Here's my feedback.
Considerations and Results of Trip Planning:
Unresupplied Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hike

This is where I hope to see a range of alternative resupply strategies on display; from the high mileage minimal-resupply folks to the heavy and slow who stop everywhere, and I especially want to hear from folks who've found other strategies and approaches.

Anyone can post up comments, questions, and add their insights, experiences, and resupply strategies, but registered members can post up their own pages here with images and embedded videos and maps, if desired. Have at it! 
I'm here to help and advise, so if you have any problems getting used to the text editor and all the crazy taxonomy stuff you can email me and I'll get you going.

The same is true with your resupply issues. We're here to help.

A good part of this guide and forum are dedicated to providing the basic information about gear, fitness, weather, and trail skills necessary for long distance High Sierra backpacking. Poke around. I'll bet you've got good information to share on at least a couple of these topics!




Trail Skills


In a general sense the trail guide itself is our best planning tool. The map collection and the miles and elevations are good places to start finding our nightly campsites in reference to the miles that our fitness level will support.

Trail Maps

Miles and Elevations

 The first thing we really need is self-awareness of our own level of fitness. The key to a successful Tahoe to Yosemite backpacking trip is staying within our own physical limits. 

The planning discussion is fundamentally based on finding the daily miles we can sustain over the term of two weeks; getting this number right is fundamental to the success and establishes the character of our trip.

If we have too harshly overburdened ourselves with miles and pack weight we will fail, if we have only moderately over-taxed ourselves we will suffer to success.
Backpacking is a beautiful thing, but it has many painful pitfalls and "side trails of torture" that can snare us if we don't base our planning on reality.

Thus we must consider hardening our feet and softening our boots before departure. We are well advised to train our legs and lungs before hitting the trail, and be able to use all our gear in high winds while very tired and cold.

We should know what can go wrong and how to fix it before we depart.

Butt rash, blisters, exhaustion, orthopedic issues,  our physical fitness and psychological expectations must all be addressed prior to departure and "fixable" on the trail as necessary.

Happy Trails are well planned trails.



Related Topics
On the Trail Guide

High Sierra Backpacking Skills

High Sierra Backpacking Navigation


Real Time Sierra Reporting Stations




Winter of 2018




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