Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(42)
Yosemite National Park

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is a 57.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Yosemite Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

Length57.7 miElevation gain11509 ftRoute typeLoop
BackpackingCampingFishingHikingNature tripsForestLakeRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeBugsRockyFeeNo dogs
Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Contact
Getting There

Yosemite National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are $35 per vehicle or $30 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is $20 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $70. This is a rugged overnight backpack into the North country of Yosemite dropping in from Tuolumne Meadows into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Done at the beginning of Spring is best due to the high volume of water but be ready for some river fording through some very icy temperatures. It begins at an elevation just under 9,000' and drops to a low elevation of 4,500' almost 19 miles later at Pate Valley. Coming up out of Pate Valley heading towards Harden Lake is an elevation gain of almost 4,550' in just under 8 or so miles, be prepared for some thigh quivering demands. During the hike you'll pass a series of waterfalls starting with White Cascade Falls followed by Tuolumne Falls, California Falls, Le Conte Falls and finally the geological wonder, Waterwhell Falls, where the water flows down over a series of grooves in the rocks that can propel the water close to 20' into the air in a counter clock wise wheel, really spectacular.

Overnight parking is permitted along the paved road parallel with Tioga Pass Rd. Facilities can be located at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, Tuolumne Meadows Country store and Tuolumne Meadows Visitor center. Backcountry Permits can be secured at Wilderness Permit Station located along Tioga Pass Rd.

Public Information Office P.O. Box 577 Yosemite NP, Ca 95389 (209)372-0356 www.nps.gov/yose Yosemite Wilderness Information P.O. Box 545 Yosemite, Ca 95389 (209) 327-0200 www.nps.gov/yose/wilderness Emergency For police, fire, emergencies Dial 911, 24 hours a day

From the South take Highway 41 into Yosemite take Big Oak Flat Rd to Tioga Pass Rd (Rt 120 East) follow past Tuolumne visitor center and take left into parking near Soda Springs. From the West take highway 140 towards Yosemite Valley and left at Big Oak Flat Rd to Tioga Pass Rd (Rt 120 East) follow past Tuolumne visitor center and take left into parking near Soda Springs. From the East take Highway 395 to Tioga Pass Rd (Rt 120 West) into Yosemite NP via East entrance and follow to just pass Lembert Dome and take right into parking near Soda Springs.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (43)
Photos (99)
Recordings (29)
Completed (80)
View user's profile page
Jason Jackson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 16, 2020
Backpacking

1,000 postcards

View user's profile page
Cheyenne Dorothy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 11, 2020
Hiking

Heaven on earth.

View user's profile page
Nelson Liao
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 19, 2020
BackpackingBugsNo shade

Started from Ten Lake trailhead, clockwise, ended at Tenaya lake in three days at this end of July. I caught two pouring rains on the trail. But I left the tent’s rain cover back home naively believing that Yosemite would be super dry at the time. The rain pushed the well planned easy hiking into speed walking — the fast pace paid its toll. I got blisters on both feet the second day and I had to pull out at Tenaya Lake the third day. The trail is decent, even the descending before Pate valley is little tough. View isn’t super glorious but quite good for hiking. There were still plenty of water holes in the river at the time for dipping and swimming. No bears were encountered but I was told by other hikers rattle snakes were everywhere. Also, mosquito nets are very helpful. I will come back next spring, early in wet season to catch the best water scenes.

View user's profile page
Keira Lynn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
Hiking

White wolf to Pate Valley... ended in Tuolomne meadows. Rigorous day one descent... planned to do while loop, opted to out at the meadows 3 days. So beautiful, would have loved to take even slower and lingered rivers edge to swim throughout... and complete the loop over 6 days.

View user's profile page
Keith Serxner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 24, 2020
Backpacking

The lack of water in any of the streams changed our plans. We camped at a very good campground on the north shore after crossing the bridge at the end of Pate Valley. Then we hiked to Harden Lake and camped. This is an unusually hot year. If we had 5 water bottles each we could have made it through the dry stretches like after McGee creek. Cathedral is dry. Also we had the extreme haze from the California fires . Oh well, lessons learned.

View Keith 's Recording
View user's profile page
Jon Bartelt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 17, 2020
Backpacking

Hiked the 33 miles from White Wolf to the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center over the course of 4 days. It was hot, but great overall. We camped at Pate Valley, across from Grand Mountain, and near the base of California Falls. To get between the end and trailhead we took YARTS. Here is a report with all my pictures: https://backpackers-review.com/trip-reports/grand-canyon-tuolumne-yosemite/

View user's profile page
Jed Antler
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 23, 2020
BackpackingBugsGreat!

An epic adventure best done clockwise (not as described above). Tackling this counter-clockwise means saving an ~11-mile, mostly dry (and HOT depending on the season) climb for the end and is relatively anti-climatic compared to the rhythm of the rest of the route. As of July 2020, several water sources are dry and the road to White Wolf is closed for due to the pandemic. The road adds 1.1 mi (x2) to the hike. All told, it's a 55-miler, including the 2.2 extra miles hiked on the road back to Hwy 120. Recommended camping spots include Tuolumne Peak and the first (easternmost) of the Ten Lakes.

View user's profile page
Rich Geee
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 12, 2020
Backpacking

This is a 50 mile loop out of White Wolf. Both the mileage on my maps and on my GPS said 50 and not the 57.7 that AllTrails says. Also it's 9,800 feet of climbing and not the 11,509 feel AllTrails says. White Wolf road and campground are closed for the 2020 season. Add another 1.2 miles if you can park right outside the gate. Amazing loop! Not sure what other reviewers are talking about there being limited camp spots... there are a ton all over the place. You just have to go a few feet off the trail. lots of water all over also. Morrison creek flowing and should have water the rest of the season

View user's profile page
Keith Blodorn
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 2, 2020
BackpackingBugsGreat!No shadeRocky

My family did this trip one way from White Wolf to Tuolumne Meadows in early July. The Tuolumne canyon is absolutely spectacular, with the emerald green river set against the backdrop of Yosemite's granite cathedrals. We initially planned to do the round trip, but overestimated our ability (or underestimated the difficulty of this terrain). The descent from White Wolf to Pate Valley is really quite difficult, with most of the 3,800 feet of elevation drop squeezed into a 4-5 mile stretch after Harden Lake. We found ourselves spending the first night about 3 miles short of the footbridge, our intended night one destination. Several other groups of tired-looking hikers passed our bail out camp, in much the same boat we were as they tried to decide to forge on to the river or find a place to bail. There are slim pickings for campsites from the Morrison Creek crossing all the way to the footbridges that cross the Tuolumne. Hiking along the river, it's simply amazing how many personalities this river has. Its dramatic waterfalls, cascades and rapids are too numerous to count, but then come around a bend and find the river taking a leisurely meander through a wooded area. On our third night, we set up camp on a bluff above the river, and found the most beautiful swimming hole just below an 8 foot cascade, where the smooth granite bed sloped down into the water like a beach. After taking a dip in the frigid water, we laid on the sun-heated granite that felt like a hot rock massage. Our little swimming hole was set amid lodgepole pines, with the granite walls of the Tuolumne Canyon towering above us in all directions. We did have to fend off mosquitoes, especially in the more wooded sections of the canyon. We also saw plenty of poison oak along the trail, so long pants are highly recommended. We encountered one bear as we were hiking in from Tioga Road to the White Wolf trailhead (White Wolf is closed due to COVID-19), and one rattlesnake on the side of the trail in the canyon who scurried off under some boulders and shook his tail at us from a safe distance. My vertigo-prone wife had a little difficulty on the trail above Muir Gorge, but made it through. Our last night on the trip we spent at Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. The backpacker's campground was open, but the bathrooms were locked. This made for a challenging issue when the call arose. The campground is surrounded by the river and tributary creek on two sides, with fairly steep walls on the other sides. There were also a decent number of backpackers in the campground, so finding a spot with some modicum of privacy and 300 feet from water is virtually impossible. If the bathrooms are closed, it's probably better to stay a little further downriver in Glen Aulin itself rather than in the campground. We were anxious about our decision to convert the trip to a one-way, since we had no pre-arranged plans to get us back to White Wolf. With COVID 19, the backpacker's shuttle is not operating, and we weren't sure if the YARTS bus would stop at White Wolf since that road is closed. On arriving in Tuolumne Meadows, we learned from a ranger that the bus would indeed stop at White Wolf (although it only departs the Tuolumne Meadows area westbound at around 8AM and 10AM). However, we happened upon a day hiker who was happy to give me a lift on his way back up Tioga Road to my car. I would definitely do this hike again, though I would plan from the outset to go one-way with either a two car shuttle or solid plans on YARTS. I'd also suspect that the opposite direction starting in Tuolumne Meadows would be better as you'd spend most of the time descending. Given our "ok-ish" level of fitness, I'd also break the White Wolf to Pate Valley leg into two days, and camp just above the Morrison Creek crossing halfway down (or up) where there were some decent campsites with good water access. I'd also avoid the Glen Aulin HSC unless the bathrooms are open. (It's a beautiful spot just below White Falls, so it's a shame if it can't be used!)

View user's profile page
Liv Adams
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 1, 2020
Hiking

Just completed the whole loop! Took us 4 days, but I would recommend 5-6 honestly if you want to enjoy yourselves. We were hoofing it the whole time and hiking 6-8 hours a day. DAY 1 (10.4 miles): Started at the Ten Lakes trailhead and spend the first night about 4 miles after Ten Lakes at the stream, mostly because we were trying to get miles in so didn't want to stop after 6. There were a few good spots here but of course SO MANY mosquitos in the July. I would recommend a lot of bug spray and probably a face net as well. DAY 2 (17.3 miles): Goal was to pick up a lot of miles here and camp somewhere in the middle of the canyon as it was relatively flat/downhill day after the climb in the morning. Got about 3-4 miles past Glen Aulin and luckily found a great campsite (but small 1-2 tents max) before the first bridge crossing. Not a lot of campsites in the stretch from Glen Aulin to Pete Valley, would recommend doing this stretch in a day. The only other decent one we saw was tucked away to the left of the trail before the accent before Register/Roger's creek. DAY 3 (13.2 miles): Big moring to get to Pate's Valley, great spot to chill along the river and just hang out. Camped by Morrison's creak at the first crossing. You'll see flat area with 4-5 ish campsites overlooking Hetch Hetchy which is the main all trails pictures for this hike. Great spot by water and super pretty. DAY 4 (11.9 miles) : After some up on the last day its pretty much flat the whole day through lots of meadows, this was were going early season was a real treat. So many flowers in bloom and butterflies. this was also the day we saw two bears (on different occasions) seemed like prime bear territory as it pretty heavily wooded.

View user's profile page
Kayla Moreland
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 29, 2020
HikingBugs

I just completed this as a point to point hike from White Wolf to the Lembert Dome parking area. We completed this in four days. The road to White Wolf is currently closed, which adds about a mile to the first day. The hike down to Pate Valley takes you through some beautiful meadows, but it got hot and muggy as the day progressed. The downhill started to hurt my joints and campsites were further into the valley than we anticipated. We had a thunderstorm the first night that lasted about 90 mins. Mosquitoes are out in force! I went through 4L of water on this day. I recommend crossing the bridge for established campsites, though we were able to find a flat area before that since we were tired. The second day involved a lot of hot uphill climbing, so I’d recommend an early start. We found some good spots to cool off in the river. We stopped for lunch at the first creek crossing in Muir Gorge, though I wish we would have waited until the next creek crossing since it had a nice pool and fall. We had to go a bit farther than planned to find a good spot for three tents. The third day had amazing waterfalls and we finally started seeing more folks as they day hiked from Glen Aulin. We even saw a black bear this day. There were tons of beautiful spots to get into the river. Glen Aulin was pretty busy, but the High Sierra Camp was closed. Toilets are open and stocked with TP and sanitizer. The fourth day was shortest as we hiked from Glen Aulin to Lembert Dome. The scenery was gorgeous. If I had to choose a section, I think starting at Lembert and hiking to Glen Aulin or slightly further to camp would be a great short trip, and you could easily day hike down to more of the falls.

View user's profile page
John Helmuth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 28, 2020
BackpackingBugs

Did loop clockwise out of Whitewolf. If have time, I'd recommend a night where cathedral creek discharges into the Toulumne and a layover in 10 lakes basin to explore the lakes on a day hike. If not a layover, then could get midway to 10 Lks at a snow fed tarn by noon to set up camp and summit Toulumne peak. 6/25 (TH) - 6/28 (SUN) https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10217882405598464&type=3 Oh, I think we crossed paths with Kayla and company, we camped on the other side of the river at Pate Valley.

View user's profile page
Keith Redenbaugh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 22, 2020
BackpackingBugsGreat!Rocky

Similar to the last review, we did not do the loop but from White Wolf to Tuolumne Meadows Visitors center. Fantastic hike, agree with everyone on the beauty. I wanted to note that all the river crossings had bridges in good condition, and last year they must have fixed all of them because we only got our feet wet at small creeks. Good trip. There were mosquitos, and parts of the trail were rather rocky, but doable. A mosquito net over ones hat does the trick.

View user's profile page
Alexandra Jordan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 14, 2019
HikingBridge outBugs

NOTE: we did not do the full loop but instead hiked from White Wolf to the Lembert Dome parking lot. Our GPS had the hike at over 30 miles, but by the park map it is about 28.5 miles. We did this hike in four days, roughly 10 miles on day 1 from White Wolf to Pate Valley, and 6 miles each on days 2-4. Conditions were hot and buggy in Pate Valley. Bugs only abated after a storm rolled in on day 3 bringing high winds and low temps. We were surprised by how warm it was and wished we had brought more water capacity--2L per person wasn't sufficient in warm weather given that the river is inaccessible on much of the trail. We did not encounter any bears, though we saw lots of scat, nor did we see or hear rattlesnakes. The bridge over the river in Pate Valley was nearly complete such that we were able to cross it, though the water was also low enough to walk across easily. Though less popular, we enjoyed hiking this trail west to east because the views improved significantly on days three and four. The downclimb from White Wolf is pretty brutal, however, especially if you have a history of knee or ankle issues. We saw a few (between 3-5) people on the first two days and then many more people as we got to the Falls and Glen Aulin, due to the dayhikers. Glen Aulin campground was closed, so there was no running water, but the composting toilets in the campground were open and stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

View user's profile page
Gabe & Crystal Sumner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 7, 2019
Backpacking

My wife & I just did this loop (4 days, 3 nights) and recorded 57.6 miles, not 45.2. Check the recordings. Many of the recordings didn't complete the loop, but instead through hiked to Tioga Pass Road. I was prepared for 45 miles, but wasn't fully ready for what we ended up doing. Day 2 we hiked around 18 miles to make up the ground. And that final climb out of the canyon on day 4 was rough. Don't take this wrong. I loved it! Gorgeous scenery, but be ready for what you're getting into. :)

View user's profile page
Peter Zhu
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 26, 2018

The views are excellent. We arrived before 5 pm on a Friday and hiked down from White Wolf TH for over 5 miles before resting for the night. The next day we hiked all the way past the Waterwheel Falls before looking for campsites. Along the route, there are some really nice places to stay for the night. On Sunday we hiked to Tuolumne Meadows and got a ride from a nice father and son team to the junction with White Wolf. The only regret is that AllTrails could not record most of the route. Once we descended into the forest, it lost GPS signal. So it only recorded the beginning and ending part of the whole trip!

View user's profile page
Hiroko A
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 7, 2018
Backpacking

We started from White Wolf and finished at Tuolumne Meadows. Initially, we planned it as 3 day backpacking but thought better of it and changed to 4 days. I was glad we did. We had much more time to enjoy all the beautiful views, side tripped to every falls to take lots of pictures and took time to soak my feet in the river. We saw a bear coming down a tree on the first night at the camp site in Pate Valley. I was bit surprised and scared but it did not mind us at all and just walked away as if we were not there. The bridge at Pate Valley was not fixed on 9/1/2018. There were still three beams left and we walked on the middle beam to cross the river. More and better camp sites on north side of the river in Pate Valley. Bugs were bad whole time 6000ft or under - I wish I had a net to cover my face - they swarmed around and crawled on my exposed skin everywhere - repellent did not work. The views were better last half of the trail. Lots of water falls. When we were climbing up to Waterwheel Falls, those bugs were finally gone. We stopped at the top of Waterwheel Falls to eat lunch - the view of the canyon was spectacular. 4th and the last day was pretty easy hike to Tuolumne Meadows store. We saw many day hikers at this point but we were surprised we did not see many backpackers during this 3 day weekend. We arrived at the store around noon and pick up some lunch waited the hiker's shuttle to go back to White Wolf. The weather was very nice and the sky was blue whole time. While we were waiting for the bus the dark cloud developed and it started raining. We were glad we did not encounter the rain on the trail. It was tough terrain but we took time to enjoy them all. It was a great trip.

View user's profile page
Brian Nachreiner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 2, 2018
Backpacking

Something for everyone in this hike. The valleys are amazing and scenic. Watch out for rattle snakes.

View user's profile page
Dan Chang
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 17, 2015
Hiking

Hiked from Tuolumne Meadows, from the Glen Aulin trailhead to White Wolf campground over the course of three days at the end of September. Slept at the backpacker's camp in the meadows the night before our hike. With the dry conditions in California, the waterfalls were not the majestic beasts they could be. But with the low water levels it was cool to see the way the rock has been artistically shaped by the erosion caused by the water. Also gave us some great natural pools to take a dip in, which were great mid-day and end of day refreshers. This is a great trail if you're looking to take in the views in a more lightly trodden area of the park. Mind you it was late in the season, but we must've only ran into 10-15 people while we were on the trail. It's amazing how much the landscape can change from a granite rock trail, to a forest of sequoias or grove of aspens, to a desert dry trail in a matter of miles. The last day's climb up from Pate Valley to White Wolf was definitely hard work for day 3, but was enjoyable nonetheless. Wouldn't have minded making this a 4 day trek and take our time, but we spent day 4 car-touring around Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point. Camp spots on the trail: Water Wheel Falls (Day 1); Pate Valley (Day 2)

View user's profile page
Dominic Chaulk
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 7, 2014

hard hike. lots of switchbacks

View user's profile page
Bohdi Silva
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 20, 2011
Hiking
First to Review

This is a rugged overnight backpack into the North country of Yosemite dropping in from Tuolumne Meadows into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Done at the beginning of Spring is best due to the high volume of water but be ready for some river fording through some very icy temperatures. It begins at an elevation just under 9,000' and drops to a low elevation of 4,500' almost 19 miles later at Pate Valley. Coming up out of Pate Valley heading towards Harden Lake is an elevation gain of almost 4,550' in just under 8 or so miles, be prepared for some thigh quivering demands. During the hike you'll pass a series of waterfalls starting with White Cascade Falls followed by Tuolumne Falls, California Falls, Le Conte Falls and finally the geological wonder, Waterwhell Falls, where the water flows down over a series of grooves in the rocks that can propel the water close to 20' into the air in a counter clock wise wheel, really spectacular.

View user's profile page
Liz Forbes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 2, 2020
Hiking
View Liz's Recording
Showing results 1 - 22 of 43