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Backpack over Koip Peak Pass

Tuolumne County, California

Details

Distance

19 miles

Elevation Gain

2500 ft

Route Type

Point-to-Point

Description

Added by Emily Noyd

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.

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