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
Show More
RT Distance 19 Miles
Elevation Gain 2500 Feet
Activities Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Scenic
Wildflowers

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Backpack the Lyell Loop

Start the hike at the Mono pass trail. You'll eventually take the fork towards Parker Pass a couple miles in.

60 Saves

Photograph Dana Fork

Yosemite is filled with some amazing views but rarely do you get to experience these views by yourself.

17 Saves

Hike to Middle Gaylor Lake, Yosemite NP

The main trail to the Middle Gaylor Lake is 2 miles round-trip, but if you’re looking for more adventure, you can hike a little further to Upper Gaylor Lake (which will add a mile to your trip) or co.

41 Saves