Woman looking at mountains

Backpacking the Yosemite Falls Loop

By Joe Coleman

The Most Bang for Your Buck

When it comes to Yosemite backpacking trips, few offer the same “bang for you buck” as the Yosemite Falls Loop. Whichever direction you intend to travel the loop, it starts by climbing out of Yosemite Valley, which comes with significant elevation gain. You are quickly rewarded, however, by views of some of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic features. This particular 3-day guided Yosemite trekking tour, led by Southern Yosemite Mountain Guide (SYMG) guides Dahlia and Brendan, doubled as a 20-year college reunion for our guests from London.


Heat, Blasting, & Blisters

The health of our guests and guides alike is of the upmost importance. SYMG relies on our partnership with Adventure Medical Kits to keep our guides equipped and prepared to deal with the variety of medical situations which may arise in the backcountry.

Our first day on trail for the Yosemite Falls Loop brought bouts of intense heat as we moved between sparse patches of shade while ascending the Snow Creek switchbacks, followed by some uncertainty as we listened to trail crews blasting further up the trail.

This challenging day left our guests with a few blisters in need of attention but in the end rewarded them with breathtaking views of Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon and eventually a hot dinner at the cozy Snow Creek camp, topped off with a relaxing sunset viewed from the promontory.


North Dome Summit

After a hearty breakfast and plenty of coffee, 11 miles along the North Rim of Yosemite Valley lay between us and our Upper Yosemite Falls Camp. Despite our biggest day ahead (in terms of mileage) the group still opted to include a North Dome summit along the way.

The summit of North Dome is a great add-on to the Yosemite Falls Loop and provides the opportunity to drop packs just before lunch and head out to yet even more views of Half Dome.

After a long day, we made it to camp at the Upper Falls with plenty of time for the group to relax and swim before our final dinner together.

Dahlia went the extra mile and capped off an already five-star dinner with a dessert of peaches flambé which drew a round of applause. With fully bellies and tired feet, the guys spent the remainder of the evening laying out on the granite slabs surrounding camp enjoying the clear, starry sky.

Friendship & Beauty in Yosemite

Our final morning had us up and out of camp early in hopes of beating the crowds to the view point atop Yosemite Falls and descended the Falls Trail before the full heat of the day had a chance to set in. In good spirits, despite nearing the end of our backpacking trip, we promptly made our way down to the Valley floor with brief stops to gaze at the Falls along the way.

After adjusting to the “real world” on our bus ride to Half Dome Village, we sorted gear and said our good-byes before sending Simon, Ed, Will, and Jarad off to their respective corners of the globe and back to their families. It was a real pleasure seeing such a long-standing friendship and sharing time in the back country with such a fun group.