Mountain Passes in Yosemite

Mountain Passes in the Sierra are thought of in two ways. Those that you Drive and those that you concur by foot. Yosemite National Park with all its trails and Glacial wonders is filled with some of the most heart pounding mountain passes in the world.

Are you ready to tackle your bucket list of Yosemite Mountain Passes? They lead to some of the most beautiful locations: For our list today we will focus on the Passes you take by foot, even though Tioga Pass is one of our favorite Scenic Routes in the Sierra.

Mountain Pass Bucket list Yosemite National Park

Rock Island Pass – Located on the North East Boundary of the Park, Rock Island Pass is accessed via Twin Lake out of Bridgeport Ca and in the Hoover Wilderness. This trail goes by Barney Lake, Peeler Lake, and down into Kerrick Canyon – Rock Island Pass is a saddle in Tuolumne County and has an elevation of 10,157 feet. Consider a 3-4 day backpacking trip to five spectacular lakes in the Hoover Wilderness and Kerrick Meadow in Yosemite National Park. A wonderland of craggily granite mountain tops and pristine mountain lakes. Campsites are abundant, and epic views are interrupted only by peaceful conifer groves or thickets of quaking aspens.

Mono and Parker Pass into Ansel Adams – Mono and Parker Pass are accessed via the Mono Pass trailhead in Yosemite National Park or from the Bloody Canyon trail from the east via Sardine Lakes. The Yosemite route is the most common and will take you up along the Western Flank of Mt Gibbs. The trail splits towards the top for either Mono Pass at 10’604 ft into Sardine Lakes and Ansel Adams Wilderness or Parker Pass at 11’100 ft to Koip Pass in Ansel Adams. Near the trail split, the trail will leave the forest and meadows and bring hikers out on the rugged tundra of these two passes. The paths are filled with crushed rock that looks alien to the surface of Yosemite. You will also find Summit Lake and several un-named bodies of water surrounded by lush meadows.

The Parker Pass split is a dry wasteland with epic views. Windblown and erosion carved, this pass takes you over 11.000 feet and right next to Parker Pass Lake (although you will have to walk off trail 100 years to look over at the lake), one of the prettiest lakes you will ever lay eyes on in my personal opinion.

Donahue Pass – This pass has an exit quota because it is part of the JMT and leads South to Garnet Lake and the John Muir Wilderness. Donohue pass sits at an elevation is 11,066 feet and travels between Mount Lyell and Donohue Peak. At this juncture, both the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) are merged into the same trail.

Vogelsang Pass – Hiking Vogelsang pass gives visitors Access to multiple backcountry lakes and the Clark range region of Yosemite. Best Access is via Rafferty Creek trail out of Tuolumne meadows, a 7.5-mile trek with 2000 feet elevation gain. The Elevation at Vogelsang Pass is 10,670′ and is approximately one mile past Vogelsang lake.

Chiquito Pass – The Chiquito Pass trail is 2.8 miles long and has a top elevation of 8,045 ft. It begins at Road 5s04 Chiquito Trailhead and ends at Yosemite National Park Boundary. A wilderness permit is required for all overnight stays. 

To reach Chiquito Trailhead. Take Beasore Rd. when you see Globe Rock on the right, make a left turn on to rd 5S04 (Globe Rock). After about two miles on this road, you will reach the trailhead. The most common destinations from Chiquito Trailhead are Chain lakes (inside Yosemite National Park) 5.7 miles, and Ottoway Lakes, 15.4 miles from the trailhead.

Styx Pass– Elevation 7,634 ft. Located on the North West Boundary of the park, route destinations Boundary Lakes or Many Island Lakes via the Emigrant Wilderness.

Benson Pass– 10’974 – Benson Pass is 0.8 miles west of Wilson Creek and 1.3 miles east of Smedberg Lake. Benson Pass – Northeast Yosemite Grand Tour is a 53.9-mile moderately trafficked loop trail.

Dorothy Lake Pass – elevation 9’596 – This is the Exit path of the PCT out of Yosemite National Park headed north to Sonora Pass.

Seavey Pass – Seavey Pass is located 1.4 miles south-southeast of Price Peak and 1.6 miles northeast of Piute Mountain. *Elevation: 9,058 miles 

Directions to Seavey Pass: In Yosemite National Park, 2.2 km (1.4 mi) south-southeast of Price Peak and 2.6 km (1.6 mi) northeast of Piute Mountain.

Virginia Pass – Virginia Pass is on the east wall at the heading of Virginia Canyon, 0.8 miles northwest of Camiaca Peak and 1.1 miles east of Virginia Peak. Elevation: 10,531 feet.

Directions In Yosemite National Park, on the east wall at the heading of Virginia Canyon, 0.8 mi northwest of Camiaca Peak. From Outside Yosemite: Virginia Pass is approximately 3.5 miles after you started off from Green Lake past East lake. Or Start through the Virginia Lakes basin and climb to summit lake

Virginia Pass is marked by a typical Yosemite Trail marker that’s left behind from when this was a more heavily used trail. The view from Virginia Pass is an incredible glimpse into Yosemite.

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