We had some beautiful high lakes all to ourselves and those views of Mammoth Mountain, Kuna Crest, Mt. Gibbs and Mt. Dana were well worth the trip! Plus the fish were jumping right onto my hook!!
Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 9 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Range: 9,597′ – 11,193′
Date: August 14, 2013
Maps: Tioga Pass, Mount Dana, Koip Peak
Highlights: We wandered off trail to several high lakes off of the historic Mono Pass Trail, saw some late flowers, relaxed at gorgeous high mountain lakes, caught some nice fish (and released some back); saw some deer and wonderful views of the red mountains along the crest.
We parked our car at the Mono Pass Trailhead, about 5.6 miles east of the Tuolumne Meadows Campground and 1.4 miles south of Tioga Pass. After using the restrooms there and stowing our stuff in the bear box, we headed up this historic trail. The Mono Pass Trail is an old Indian trail that was “discovered” by Americans around 1852 when Army Lieutenant Tredwell Moore pursued Yosemite’s Chief Tenaya’s band through Tuolumne Meadows and over Mono Pass. The Army did not catch up with him that day.
This trail was also utilized for silver mining that occurred in this area as early as the 1860s. The largest mines were the Golden Crown and the Ella Boss but there were many smaller mining efforts in this area. The Golden Crown Mine was established in 1879 by Orlando Fuller during the Tioga silver boom that also produced Bennettville and the Great Sierra Mine near Tioga Pass. Although the potential of these mines was talked up quite a bit, they were abandoned by 1890.
The Mono Pass Trail passes right by one of these old abandoned cabins.
The trail also passed by this doe with a split ear that watched us as she munched.
The trail splits at about 3.5 miles, with the left fork going to Mono Pass and the right fork heading to Parker Pass. The left fork will take you to the Sardine Lakes where I have done well on fishing. The right fork will take you up toward Spillway, Helen, Parker Pass, Bingaman and Kuna Lakes and this is the direction we headed on this hike. We went off trail shortly after this picture was taken, heading to the southwest.
We brought our water shoes for crossing the creeks but we didn’t need them. We were able to successfully rock hop our way over the creeks. We then headed up the hill.
Much higher up, a wide spot in a small stream created a little pool full with reflections of Mammoth Mountain.
My hiking partner relaxed at the first lake that we visited.
And I fished.
The German Brown Trout in this lake were really biting! Photo by Gail Gilbert.
Beautiful views of the Kuna Crest.
After lunch, some relaxing and fishing, we headed onward to our next lake. . .
Where my hiking partner rested and I fished.
The Brook Trout were biting but I released them all back.
I love the way the red on Mount Gibbs contrasted so beautifully with the blue sky, water and the rocks.
As we worked our way to the outlet, we could also get views of Mt. Dana.
We headed down the hill, wandering down a small creek where we spotted Monkeyflower.
The Ranger buttons were on their last legs but I thought this one was pretty, having faded from it’s snow white color at its prime to show off a purple cast.
Now, how does a day get more perfect than this??