Do It Strap on snowshoes, and you’ll enjoy some of Yosemite’s most remarkable pinnacle-top views in total solitude. And this beginner-friendly 7.2-mile (round-trip) snowshoe trek is a perfect place to start. The route crosses gentle, rolling terrain dotted with lodgepole pines, ending at 7,385-foot Dewey Point, with views of Half Dome and Clouds Rest. From Badger Pass Ranger Station (1), snowshoe northeast along Glacier Point Road (don’t walk in the machine-groomed cross-country ski trail) for .7 mile to a junction (2) with the Ridge Trail—an alternate, more strenuous route to Dewey Point.
Stay straight and ascend moderately for another quarter-mile to the Meadow Trail (3) (directly across from Summit Meadow). Turn northeast (left), and if there isn’t a path already broken, follow the triangular reflectors through the trees. In .9 mile, you’ll reach Dewey Meadow (4). Surrounded by red fir and lodgepole pines, this long, flat meadow is the perfect place to break and scan for animal tracks (flip the page for a field guide). From here, continue north to cross the meadow, then head .5 mile through dense, lichen-covered pines and drop into a small valley. Reach the junction of the Ridge and Meadow Trails (5) in .3 mile.
Soon after, you’ll get your first glimpse of Half Dome and Clouds Rest. Continue north as the route roller-coasters to the top of Dewey Point (6), 3.6 miles from the trailhead. El Capitan, towering 3,500 feet above Yosemite Valley, soars directly across from you; Mt. Hoffman and Mt. Conness rise to the northeast. Camping on Dewey Point proper isn’t allowed, so cruise 200 feet back into the woods; find a level site off-trail and away from snow-loaded trees. Return the way you came.
Trip Planner Driving From Yosemite Village, take CA 140 west 6.1 miles to CA 41/Wawona Rd.; turn right and go 9.3 miles. Turn left on Glacier Point Rd. and drive 5.1 miles to parking at Badger Pass Ranger Station.
Permits Required. Self-register at Badger Pass Ranger Station (209-372-0740; nps.gov/yose).
Gear Up Yosemite Mountain Shop (209-372-8396) in Curry Village has most supplies. Rent snowshoes at Badger Pass cross-country ski center ($19.50/day, 209-372-8444, yosemitepark.com/BadgerPass.aspx).
Map & More Send a topo, photos, and route info to your cell by texting “imap 51745” to 32075. Or download it at backpacker.com/hikes/51745