Backpack Yosemite's Snow Creek Trail

Yosemite Mirror Lake Trailhead, Yosemite

Added by R. Adam Prieto

Backpacking the Snow Creek Trail offers hikers amazing views of Half Dome and Basket Dome. 

This is truly a beautiful hike. Although it’s not the easiest, you are rewarded by the views. From the Mirror Lake trailhead (shuttle stop #17), it is 0.9 miles to the Snow Creek trailhead and 1.7 miles to the Snow Creek overlook where you can camp in close proximity.

Once you reach the top, you can take a dip in the water which is about 200 yards from the campgrounds. Beware though, it isn't called “Snow Creek” for no reason. I’d also recommend camping there. The best campground is the one closest to the overlook of Half Dome. This makes for an awesome time for beers or tea around a campfire. This spot also caters to your creativity at night. With views of Half Dome and Basket Dome, you can do some night photography, write your next book, or just be in the present moment and memorize what is in front of you. You can do the optional hike the next day to Indian Rock which is a 5 mile hike.

Tip:Remember that you always need a wilderness permit to camp in Yosemite National Park. When getting this permit you can also rent a free bear canister for your food and scented items. Be sure with any bear encounters YOU DO NOT RUN AWAY. Hold your ground. Remember, bears are afraid of humans and loud noises. So if you come across one or if it finds your food, scare it away by screaming as loud as you can. Also make sure you are always following the leave no trace seven principles and always make sure to check the weather before any backpacking trip. This ensures that you have a good and safe time. Be safe and most importantly have fun!

Pack List

  • 10 essentials
  • Wilderness permit
  • Tent (only if there are chances of rain)
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Water Filter
  • Camera and tri-pod
  • Bear Canister
  • Camp Stove
  • Food
  • Change of clothes (for swimming)
  • Head Lamp
  • Your favorite book
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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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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

7.2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2700 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Forest
River
Romantic
Scenic

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How to Get There

4 months ago

Worth The Effort!

We went in early November and it was spectacular! The day time weather was very pleasant, and very warm in the sun, but it was definitely below freezing at night. This was a workout of a hike with spectacular views of Half Dome. It was too chilly for a swim but we camped overnight which as of Nov 2016 the camping past the Snow Creek Footbridge is now open but not before then. Great effort brought great reward as we explored the Snow Creek Falls and got some stellar views of the valley. We were pretty limited as many of the wilderness access trails were closed for winter and the pass was snowed out, so we were stoked to find some backcountry camping! Highly recommend especially if you want to get away from the crowds and get some unique photos of the valley!

4 months ago

7 months ago

Sublime views, troublesome bear

Snow Creek is one of the only places you can camp in the backcountry with a perfect view of Half Dome from the tent. Well worth the switchbacks from Mirror Lake! An alternative route (all downhill) is to start on Tioga Rd and descend to the Snow Creek footbridge, then finish the trip via Mirror Lake in the Valley. Hitchhiking or the YARTS bus will bring you back to the car. Take note: a notoriously troublesome bear hangs out at Snow Creek. The area is currently closed to camping (July/August 2016) because she knows how to break open bear canisters and is teaching her cub unfortunately. Always check with the Wilderness stations about current trail conditions, including bear reports.

7 months ago

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