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
Read More

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



Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



7.2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2700 Feet




Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

2 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.

2 months ago

More Adventures Nearby

Backpack the Little Five & Big Five Lakes Loop

Yosemite / Sawtooth Trailhead

Day 1: A long, rewarding day. Over the course of 11.5 miles you will complete around 10,000ft of elevation change.

Breanne McNitt
8 Saves

Hike the Shadow of the Giants Trail

Yosemite / Shadow of the Giants Trail

The Shadow of the Giants National Recreation trail is an amazing 1.1 mile self-guided hike through the heart of Nelder Grove.

Dan Deublein
8 Saves

Hike the North Dome Loop via Yosemite Falls Trail

Yosemite / Yosemite Falls/Columbia Rock Trailhead

One of the most challenging and rewarding hikes on the northern rim of Yosemite Valley. This is an alternative to the often crowded Mist, Panorama or 4-Mile Trails.

Matt Purciel
2 Saves