Place Name: Yosemite National Park
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 13,057 Feet
Prominence: 2,417 Feet
Elevation Gain: 3,124 Feet
Lists: Sierra Sampler, Western States Climbers List, Vagmarken Sierra Crest, Sierra Club Sierra Peaks Section
5-Star Summit Views
Mount Dana lies at the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park and gives you a chance to get to 13,000 feet with less than 3 miles each way. The trail is steep, but the views are worth it!
- Amazing views
- Trail is easy to follow
- Parking available nearby
- Very steep
- Known to have a lot of traffic
- Very exposed once above treeline
When you think of hikes in Yosemite National Park, Mount Dana probably doesn’t even crack the top five. In fact, it’s not even listed as an official trail in the park catalog. Don’t let this deter you, there is a trail to the 13,057-foot summit and the views are fabulous.
Mount Dana lies right at the eastern edge of Yosemite where the trail can be picked up right at the toll booth to enter the park. There is no sign marking the start, however, it’s easy to spot.
The trail the summit clocks in at 2.9 miles and around 3,100 feet of gain. Don’t let that fool you. While that averages out to about 1,000 feet per mile, there is a lot of flat walking early in the hike. It will flatten again during the middle of the hike when you reach the upper plateau. The first half mile meanders through the forest before climbing up above the trees. It really steepens at this point before reaching a plateau at 11,500 feet. Mount Dana finally comes back into view here. Enjoy the smooth walk across this upper valley because it won’t be this easy for long.
The Final Climb
Now the flat section is over, you find yourself about 1,000 feet away, with less than one mile. Some people have trouble following the trail through this extended talus pile, but it is pretty easy if you have any hiking experience. Even if you lose the trail, large cairns are placed throughout and as long as you are going up, you will get there. By now, you are over 12,000 feet in elevation, so take your time and enjoy the views behind you to the north.
After fighting the altitude and the steepness of the trail, you are rewarded with 5-star views. Directly to the east lies Mono Lake around 5,000 feet below and Mount Grant over 50 miles away beyond that. The 360-degree views are something else and extend all the way to Mount Diablo over 130 miles away on a clear day.
All in all, this is a breathtaking hike and one that should not be missed. It took me 4 hours round-trip to complete. Don’t forget to tag Gaylor Peak across the highway on the Gaylor Lakes Trail if you have extra time.