This is a great beginner-intermediate snowshoe in Yosemite National Park! It was my first legit snowshoe: something more than a flat terrain, and I absolutely loved it! Unfortunately the fog stuck at the top, blocking most of the views of El Capitan and the Valley, but it was still worth it!
- Date: 2.19.17
- Miles: 7-8 mi depending on route
- Elevation profile: approx. +/- 800 ft
- Trail Type: Out-and-back
- Cost: YNP entry fee
Getting around Yosemite National Park can be difficult in the winter, especially if you don't have winter driving experience. Be aware that chains can be required at any time in the park, even on 4WD vehicles with snow tires. Click here to see park conditions. Not to fret though, if you don't want to worry about driving up to the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area! There is a FREE shuttle that runs between the valley and badger pass. You can look at the schedule here. Scroll down and click on the "shuttle" tab to get accurate times.
You can also rent snowshoes from the rental shop for a really decent price, so if you don't know if snowshoeing is your thing yet, you don't have to pay a fortune to find out! Though, if you're getting into snowshoeing, I can't recommend the MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes enough! You can also cross-country ski this trail and rentals are available as well.
Your snowshoe adventure begins at this mileage marker, at the back of the parking area. You will travel on this relatively flat path (actually an un-plowed Glacier Point Road) for about 1 mile until you reach summit meadow. This trail is groomed, so snowshoers, make sure you stay away from the cross-country ski lines so you don't mess them up!
At about a half mile, you will begin a slight incline until you reach Summit Meadow. The nice thing about this trail is that the groomed portion on Glacier Point road is pretty beautiful on its own. If your group is new to snowshoeing, this is a great trail to get acclimatized to the new sport. Just stay on this path until you want to turn around!
The adventurous and in-shape however, will want to continue out to Dewey point! We opted to take the Meadow trail to Dewey point. It is a mile shorter (round trip) than the Ridge trail, and easier too. I can't speak for the scenery on the Ridge trail, but the Meadow trail was spectacular. To take the Meadow trail, continue on Glacier Point Road until you see the second trail sign to Dewey Point. The trails are signed very well, you shouldn't miss the sign.
You'll continue through a large meadow for about a quarter of a mile, and then you'll go back into the trees. We were so entranced by the untouched snow. It looked so soft and fluffy that I didn't dare disturb it!
After a few minutes, you'll come to a rather large hill: this is probably the biggest single climb on the Meadow trail. After you conquer that, its a little more up & down until you reach the trail junction with the Ridge trail. This junction is signed and points to 1.5 more miles until Dewey Point. It's easy to get pretty tired on the section right before the rest of the trail. Take your time and remember to stay hydrated and fueled, even though it may be cold!
If you were able to go through the Meadow trail, the "hard" part of the rest of the trail to Dewey point really isn't that bad. It is a lot of up and down though, which may be difficult for first-time snowshoers. It does get pretty annoying, and the up-and-down severity will depend on the amount of snow too. I loved that my snowshoes come with a "Televator" heel, which is so helpful with going uphill!
After a few more hills, you'll finally reach the valley rim and get to see some awesome views! Unfortunately, it was super foggy when I hiked this, so you'll have to use your imagination, or go for yourself!
Once you get to the rim, its a tad bit confusing where Dewey Point is exactly. Many people will probably be sitting down somewhere, but you'll want to continue further east until you see a large point that is sticking out into the valley. It will be much more obvious where this is if you have a clear day.
You'll know you're there when you see this tree at the edge of the cliff!
Just imagine: El Capitan is behind those clouds!
Finally got a little peek of the granite monolith, but nothing better than this! Dewey Point is a great place to hang out for a while, especially when you have views. It's a pretty popular snowshoe, so you likely won't be alone, especially on a weekend. Once you're done enjoying the views and your lunch, head on back the same way you came out, or, take the opposite trail back (Ridge/ Meadow).
I highly recommend this snowshoe. I think even as a beginner, as long as you are in good shape and are physically capable of hiking 7-8 miles, attempting the Meadow trail is definitely doable. If you're not a hiker or a snowshoer, I recommend sticking to the groomed Glacier Point Road. If you're an expert, try the ridge trail, or attempt a longer snowshoe, like out to Taft Point, Glacier Point, or even overnight to the Ostrander Ski Hut!