The Pohono Trail is a 12 mile backpacking hike that goes along the south rim of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. The trail is commonly hiked point to point from Glacier Point to Inspiration Point, near Tunnel View. Overall, the trail has 2,020 ft of elevation gain and is rated as moderate on AllTrails.
Permits In 2021
Wilderness Permits for overnight trails in Yosemite National Park are working a bit different for the 2021 season. 60% of the permits are available 24 weeks ahead of time, on a rolling basis and are processed via lottery.
The other 40% that would regularly be available on a walk up basis, are available 15 days ahead of time, and are being chosen via lottery. Many permits are reserved immediately, so put in your request as soon as it becomes available.
You will need to research your information on the Yosemite National Park Website before applying for a permit. You will need to know:
• Hike Start Date
• Starting Trailhead
• 1st Night’s Camp Location
• Group Size
• Trip Leader Contact Information
• Hike End Date
• Ending Trailhead
After entering the lottery, you will be notified of your permit via email within a few days. If chosen, you must pay for your permit online for it to be fully accepted and you must pick up a physical permit at a Wilderness Center in the park before 10am the day you plan to leave on your trip.
Backpacking Point To Point
The Pohono Trail is most commonly completed as a Point To Point trail from Glacier Point to Tunnel View. You have a few different options for this:
- Use two cars at both Glacier and Tunnel View
- Backpack The Pohono Trail as an Out and Back
- YARTS is an transportation system that runs in the park, but it is running on limited capacity. Make sure to check for reservations.
(and after 2021)
4. Take the shuttle that runs in the park from these two points. Shuttles and tours are not running in 2021. For current updates on shuttles, check the park website here.
Important Trail Information
↟ You must camp at least 4 miles from designated trailheads. Starting from Glacier Point, Wilderness Rangers gave us the footbridge as a marker for how far we had to be to camp. This was about a mile after Taft Point.
↟ Your wilderness permit covers your entry into Yosemite National Park. You do not need to make a separate reservation in order to enter the park for the 2021 season.
↟ You can stay the night before and after your wilderness trip at Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy, and (once Tioga Road opens) Tuolumne Meadows backpackers camps. The camping fee is $6 per person. There is also free dispersed camping in the National Forest area off HW 120.
↟ All things with smell must be stored in a Bear Can, this includes toiletries. They are available for rent at Wilderness Centers if needed.
↟ If parking at Glacier Point, Wilderness Rangers recommend parking in the back of the parking lot loop. This lot fills up quickly, so try and get there in the morning if possible.
↟ This is an extremely popular area, so do not expect to have the feeling of being alone in the wilderness. Because backpacking the Pohono Trail is so popular, make sure you take care of it! Pack out your trash and toilet paper and be a good trail-samaritan and pick up litter if you see it. Good trail-karma is a nice thing to have.
Trip Dates: 5/15/21 – 5/16/21
Total Mileage: 16.5
Trail Type: Out and Back
Trailhead: Glacier Point
We picked up our backpacking permits for the Pohono Trail from the wilderness rangers station around 8am on the Saturday of our start date. We made it to the trailhead at about 10am. I did make the mistake of drinking some of my water supply on the drive up and there was no water at Glacier Point. Bring an extra bottle or jug just in case you need it.
During the first portion of the trail, the views to the right of the Valley and Yosemite Falls were incredible, and probably some of my favorite views. The trail up until Taft Point was incredibly busy during the early/mid-afternoon.
After having lunch at Taft Point, we continued down towards Dewey Point. After the footbridge there were several trees down, but nearly all of them had a clear trail around them. There was a steady incline most of the way to Dewey Point, we made it there around 4pm on Saturday. This was a really popular place to set up camps and most people who were backpacking seemed to be set up here. It was relatively hard to find an open spot.
Sunset was phenomenal, and it cleared up just as the sun was going below the horizon! After walking around the point, we returned to our tent to make some dinner- my sustenance for the night was Annie’s Mac and Cheese, Tuna, and Brookside Pomegranate Chocolate. When it became darker in Yosemite Valley, I could see two headlamps from climbers making some progress on the left side of El Capitan. There were also several campfires on the opposite side of the rim, likely from backpackers. (“Wood fires are allowed in existing fire rings only, and prohibited above 9,600 feet in elevation”, nps.gov)
I woke up for sunrise around 5:20am. Very few people were out of there tents, but there were a few that had already walked over to Dewey Point and were waiting to see the sun come up behind the low clouds behind the visible portion of Half Dome. After a post-sunrise nap, we packed up camp and made our way back to Glacier Point.
Favorite Packed Gear On The Pohono Trail
You can find a complete list of gear that I use on my blog post My Must-Have Backpacking Gear.
1.Patagonia Women’s Nano Puff Hoodie in Spanish Red | This is my go to jacket that I am always wearing
2. Patagonia Synchilla in Oatmeal Heather w/ Wood Brown
3. Everlane Belgian Waffle-Wool Beanie | This was a new addition to my gear and I loved it! Love the color and its really thick and warm
4.Sony A7Rii | This was my first backpacking trip with my larger camera and I think it made a huge difference in my photo quality this trip. For more information on my photography gear read my blog post What’s In My Camera Bag 2021.
Have you backpacked or hiked the Pohono Trail in Yosemite National Park? What are your favorite wilderness trails in the park? Let me know in the comments below!