Mount Dana hike
Hiking up to the summit of Mount Dana is a great day out to Yosemite’s second highest peak with astounding views in all directions. We love this hike!
Head to the eastern gate of Tioga Road (Highway 120) and park in the small parking lot or along the road.
|When to do|
June through September
Out and back
Route Description for Mount Dana
Park as close as you can to the eastern park entrance along Tioga Rd. Walk to the gate itself, then head south towards the visible peak of Mt. Dana. The path is directly in line with the gate. This is an unofficial path so don’t expect the rangers to be able to answer many of your questions.
You will stroll past meadows and lakes as you approach the beginning of the climb. The first part of the ascent is in the shade, but it’s still quite steep. As you leave the trees, snow banks appear if it is early in the season – start thinking about your route as they can make route finding difficult. Our general rule of thumb is to avoid the snow as much as possible on the ascent, as it can be slippery and risky, especially if steep. Descending, however, can be made much easier by glissading, sliding down with your feet. Beware of descents where you are punching through the snow, as you can easily injure your legs or get your foot wedged on rocks.
As you climb you will gain a shoulder and you can see a peak to your left, however the main objective is to the right. Continue to ascend to your right on the quickly fading path. After you cross a level area there are many paths to the summit. Pick the most travelled and, again, avoid the snow.
Closer to the summit the climb gets steeper and turns into a light scramble. You may encounter some scree and have to use your hands. Hiking poles could be helpful for those unsure on their feet. The best path seems to be marked by enormous Cairns on the right-hand side of the mountain.
On top of the summit the views are gorgeous. You are right on the edge of Yosemite Park (literally straddling the boundary) and you can see down into Lee Vining and Mono Lake. If there is snow, please DO NOT stand on this cornice. It can break off and send you tumbling down several thousand feet. To our surprise we saw footmarks on the cornice.
A small shelter has been made at the summit to get you out of the wind, but if you use this you are looking into a wall of rocks. It’s probably going to be windy at 4000m, so bring extra layers to be able to soak in the view instead. Go down the way you came up and head towards the visible park gate and parking lot.
The drive east past the park gate on Highway 120 is incredible, one of our favorites. Go all the way down to an intersection. You can go left to check out Lee Vining but we suggest going right. Head South on Highway 395 and take your first right on Highway 158 heading out to Silver Lake. This is beautiful as you pass Grant Lake, then Silver Lake and finally come to the town of June Lake, a favorite of ours. There’s a fine brewery here and it’s a great place for a break. Continue on the 158 and hit Highway 395. Head North, and go right when you see Mono Basin Road (highway 120 again) to see the Tufa on Mono Lake at the South Tufa Area.
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