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Where Solitude Rules – Surprise Escapes

Find real solitude amid the crowds at these secret stashes.

Yosemite, California
Mt. Watkin’s trailless summit yields sweet views.

The granite walls of Mt. Watkins form one side of Tenaya Canyon, the eastward extension of Yosemite Valley. From the summit, you’ll see lines of hikers crawling like ants up Half Dome, but odds are you’ll be all alone on this trailless peak. Start at Olmstead Point, just off Tioga Road, and follow an unnamed trail west toward Snow Creek.

When the trail climbs over a ridge at 2.5 miles (UTM 11S 0278251E 4185983N, WGS 84), head cross-country and follow the ridge south and southwest to reach the peak after less than a mile. For the best views, continue down gentle slabs toward the lip of Watkin’s south face. From July to Labor Day, you can take the Tuolumne Meadows Hikers Bus (yosemitepark.com) from Yosemite Valley to Olmstead Point and climb Watkins midway through a 10.9-mile, mostly downhill hike to the valley.

Days 1
Map Trails Illustrated Map #206, Yosemite NP ($12, natgeomaps.com)
Permits None for dayhikes
Info nps.gov/yose

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