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Blog Peak Bagging in Yosemite
Alex Silgalis | 07/13/2020Hiking, Nature, Rock Climbing, Wildlife |   

When talking about the protruding peaks that exist in Yosemite, near the top of most visitors’ lists are perennial favorites like Half Dome and El Capitan. Less mountain peak and more rather promontories due to sheer faces of granite, we wanted to create a peak bagging list that an everyday traveler might one day be able to summit if they’re willing to put in a bit of work. If you’re looking for a way to get away from the crowds, this peak bagging list might be right up your alley.

What IS Peak Bagging?

Sunset on Half Dome as seen from Olmsted PointBack in 1890, a man by the name of Sir Hugh Munro created a list. Not of summits in Yosemite but rather the highest points in Scotland. His research created one with nearly 282 of them. Less mountaineering and more walking, this array of peaks some 3,000 feet high became the basis of peak bagging. The goal is to keep you moving. The creation of a peak bagging list is either based on something subjective like popularity or objective like being the tallest in the area. And once you’ve reached the top of one of those peaks on the list, you can consider it “bagged” and thus the term peak bagging.

Mount Hoffman

Distance: 6 miles round-trip (2,000 feet elevation gain)

At over 1,187 square miles, you might wonder what the furthest point is you can go inside the park. In other words, where is the geographic center? The answer would be Mt. Hoffman. Starting off on Tioga Road, you’ll climb steadily until you reach Lake May. Nestled in the lap of Mt. Hoffman at 9,270', you still have another 1,500’ of elevation gain to go. While the lake is beautiful, the star is the summit. From there, you'll get to look DOWN upon Clouds Rest and Half Dome.

Cathedral Peak

Distance: 10 miles round-trip (3,000 feet elevation gain)

As soon as your eyes lay upon this piece of granite, you’ll know exactly why the godfather himself John Muir climbed it in 1869. Culminating in a 360-degree panorama of the surrounding wilderness, his words about Yosemite will ring ever so true. Most of the climb is steep, and just like other summits, it also becomes very challenging near the top.

Mount Lyell

Distance: 26.4 miles (4,500 feet elevation gain)

Looming above at a height of 13,114’, Mt Lyell is the highest point in the park. The journey to the roof of Yosemite intersects both the PCT and John Muir trails. Although this trail is popular, just like many of the other trails in the high country, once you pass the first few miles, you’ll be in relative solitude. Despite most of the journey being relatively easy, the final push to the top requires class III and possibly class IV scrabbling to reach.

As we mentioned, peak bagging lists are designed to keep you moving forward. We hope at a minimum this list sparks you to explore the more hidden sides of Yosemite that are a bit different. Happy trails!


Like what you see? Save any of these pins (or possibly all of them) to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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