• Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Summer

  • Trail Type:

    Point-to-Point

  • RT Distance:

    19 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2500 Feet

Scenic
Wildflowers

Great for one or two nights in the backcountry on the edge of the Eastern Sierras, with camping opportunities at several alpine lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

This trip begins in Yosemite National Park and can be completed as an out-and-back or by hiking one-way to the Ansel Adams Wilderness and exiting at Silver Lake on the east side of the mountains. Start at the Mono/Parker Pass trailhead, a few miles past Tuolumne Meadows. Don't forget to make a permit reservation or get a walk-up permit in Tuolumne the day of your trip or the day before at 11 am.

From the trailhead, hike 3.4 miles of gentle incline until you reach the junction for Mono and Parker Pass. Stay right towards Parker Pass. You'll reach the pass in a beautifully barren 1.8 miles with red dirt mountain peaks and blooming Indian Paintbrush. In a typical snow year, there's water available throughout the summer in the streams before and after the pass. The pass itself is marked by a sign as you leave Yosemite and enter the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Inyo National Forest.

After ascending the pass, continue following the trail (and cairns) for about 2 miles to the base of Koip Peak Pass. This is the true climb of this trip: a strenuous series of switchbacks through the never ending talus. Watch your footing on this section but pause at the top for fantastic views of Mono Lake and Eastern California. The true pass is marked by a USFS sign and a small talus shelter for the huge wind gusts. 

A few miles below Koip Peak Pass are the beautiful Alger Lakes (great spot for camping and fishing). An additional four miles will bring you over Gem Pass to Gem Lake. From there, the possibilities are endless... Exit to Silver Lake Trailhead on the June Lake Loop; Head west to Waugh Lake and beyond; Continue southbound to camp at any number of pristine lakes in the Ansel Adams, like Thousand Island Lake.

Pack List

  • Permit from Tuolumne Wilderness Center
  • Camera
  • Sun protection (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen)
  • Tent (high elevations mean inadequate hammock trees)
  • Sleeping bag & pad
  • Water & treatment method
  • Stove, food, bear canister
  • Fishing gear & CA fishing license
  • Warm clothes for the windy passes and high elevation lakes
  • Sturdy trowel and ziplock bags for packing out toilet paper
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Emily Noyd

Wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park. Raised by Washington mountains and Puget Sound islands. I live for sunrise, backcountry cooking, climbing, roadtrips, and coffee.

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