Yosemite National Park: Mount Conness

Walk a scary-narrow rock fin to an airy summit.
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Walk a scary-narrow rock fin to an airy summit.

Want the exposure and views that Yosemite’s big wall climbers get, without the risk, ropes, and heavy gear? Tackle Mt. Conness’s South Slope for vertiginous cliff-edge walking above the 12,590-foot peak’s sheer granite south face with panoramas high above the Cathedral Range. The crux of your climb: a 2.5-mile, class 2 scramble that crosses a breathtakingly narrow stretch of rock with sheer drops. You’ll see climbers attempting long technical routes approaching the same summit.

The Young Lakes Trail climbs 1,500 feet over 6.5 miles from the Glen Aulin trailhead to Young Lakes. You’ll take in IMAX views of Sierra giants, including Mt. Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite at 13,120 feet, as well as peeks at lupine and monkeyflower blooming in May along Dingley Creek. Campsites at the lower lake are protected from wind (not bears: canisters required).

Summit day: Hike 1.5 miles northeast to an unnamed tarn at 10,560 feet. Find a use trail on your right; take it to the summit plateau. Pick your way across a 100-foot-long catwalk, at times only 10 feet wide, with 1,000-foot drops, to the summit block.

BOOK The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails, by R.J. Secor ($33, mountaineersbooks.org)

MAP Trails Illustrated Yosemite NE ($10, natgeomaps.com)

PERMITS Required; $5 up to 24 weeks in advance. Free (first-come, first-served) the day before your hike at the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

CONTACT (209) 372-0740; nps.gov/yose

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 13.4

Waypoints

CON001

Location: 37.880844, -119.359101

Hike south to the road.

CON002

Location: 37.87883, -119.3584

Turn right, heading west.

CON003

Location: 37.878583, -119.365361

Turn right.

CON004

Location: 37.878973, -119.367022

Continue straight onto the Pacific Crest Trail at 4-way junction.

CON005

Location: 37.884166, -119.37716

Bear left, heading north.

CON006

Location: 37.888774, -119.38098

Bear right at Y-junction.

CON007

Location: 37.899157, -119.382702

Cross Dingley Creek.

CON008

Location: 37.928056, -119.36706

Continue straight at 3-way.

CON009

Location: 37.936918, -119.348855

Young Lakes: Hike along the northern shore of the lake. Take in IMAX views of Sierra giants, including Mt. Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite at 13,120 feet, as well as peeks at lupine and monkeyflower blooming in May along Dingley Creek. Campsites at the lower lake are protected from wind (not bears: canisters required).

CON010

Location: 37.947124, -119.320425

From this unnamed tarn at 10,560 feet. Find a use trail on your right; take it to the summit plateau. Pick your way across a 100-foot-long catwalk, at times only 10 feet wide, with 1,000-foot drops, to the summit block.

CON011

Location: 37.967074, -119.321394

Mt. Conness (12,590 ft.): Soak up the panoramas high above the Cathedral Range. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.