Backpack atop Donohue Pass

Yosemite Tuolumne Meadows Visitor's Center

  • Activities:

    Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    25 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2456 Feet

Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Spend a night atop one of the highest passes along the JMT/PCT. Take in views across the Eastern Sierra and down through Lyell Canyon. You'll have the opportunity to bag Donohue Peak (12,023 ft.) or Mt. Lyell (the tallest in Yosemite at 13,114 ft.).

Donohue Pass lies on the border of Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Both the John Muir Trail (JMT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) route through this pass at 11,056 ft.

A challenging but beautiful hike that starts from Tuolumne Meadows and follows the JMT for 12.5 miles to the top of the pass with an elevation gain of 2,456ft.(most of which is gained in the last mile or so of switch backs to the top of the pass). However your hard work will not go unrewarded. Camping atop Donohue pass is like spending the night on another planet. expansive views (well above the treeline) in every direction. Spectacular star gazing and vistas of nearby Mt. Lyell & McClure. However you are completely exposed to the elements at this elevation so camping here only during fair weather is a must.

If you want a night spent gazing from atop the world this is the place to go.

Pack List

  • Plenty of water
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tent
  • Wilderness permit
  • Camera gear
  • Backpacking essentials
  • Warm clothes
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Reviews

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This is one of my all time favorite camp sites. There is a small lake on the northwestern side of the pass that is perfect to set up your tent. Be sure to check weather conditions before you go, we had wind gusts over 50 mph and I woke up several times throughout the night because I thought we were going to blow away. If possible I'd recommend starting in the Ansel Adams wilderness and hiking down to Lyell Canyon. The canyon is beautiful regardless, but knowing everything is downhill makes the views even better.

11 months ago
11 months ago

Alex Souza

Designer | Photographer | Adventurer

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