Back to index Mt Dana Hike
Trip Date:  07/17/2015

Distance
: 5.75 Miles

Vertical Gain: 3300'

Group Size: 1
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
Mt Dana Hike
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Mt Dana Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 37 54.736, W 119 15.483     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates

Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   From Highway 395 turn west toward the Yosemite park entrance on the eastern side of the park.  Follow Highway 120 (Tioga Pass Road) approximately 10 miles until you see the entrance to Yosemite National Park ahead.  You will park on a paved area just before the entrance on the right, across from an Inyo National Forest sign.  
Hazards of Note:   Route-finding required, extreme elevation gain, high altitude, changeable weather and high winds at times. Crowd Factor:   Moderate.  Although this is not officially a trail, it is very well maintained and is considered a must-do Sierra Nevada Peak climb.
General Notes:
After parking at the above coordinates, you will need to cross the highway and head toward the entrance gate on the south side of the road.  Just before you get to the service vehicle parking area, find the start of the trail, which is unmarked but obvious once you are in the right place.  Follow this through Dana Meadows and past a couple of lakes, and then you will reach a rocky section that will begin the unrelenting uphill nature of the rest of the trail.
About a third of the way up you will reach the Dana Plateau, a long flat area that crosses over to the talus field that will be your trail up to the top of the peak.  There are also large rock cairns from this point forward, which are there in order to help people navigate to the top when the trail itself cannot be seen due to snow or hail.  The entire last thousand feet to the top is very steep and exhaustive, as it finishes up at just a little over 13K feet in elevation.  The views from the top, however, make all the exertion well worth it.
Yosemite Panorama
Panorama looking west into Yosemite from the top of Mt. Dana

The destination peak for this hike, Mt. Dana, as seen from near Saddlebag Lake to the northeast. Destination
The eastern entrance gate to Yosemite National Park from the road.  The trailhead for the Mt. Dana hike is just before the white SUV seen parked in the service vehicle area on the left.
Starting point
Early morning steam rising off the lakes with water warmer than the air outside. Early morning
Reflection of Tioga Peak in the second lake passed by on the Dana Meadows section of the trail. Lake reflection
For a 'use' trail and not officially maintained, this trail is very well marked most of the way and has some pretty amazing rockwork for stairs and steps most of the way to the top of the mountain.
Well marked path stairs
Do not be fooled by this false summit on the way up.  It is only a little higher than Dana Plateau, and the true peak is about another 1000' past this. False summit 
There is a brief respite from the relentless uphill when you get to Dana Plateau, about 1500 feet up.  It still climbs but much more gradually for about 1/4 of a mile.  The bottom picture shows the trail winding across the plateau.
Dana PlateauLooking down on the plateau
This sequence of three pictures shows the general view west toward Tuolumne Meadows as you make the climb up to the top of Mt. Dana. Tuolumne Meadows Tuolumne Meadows Tuolumne Meadows
This sequence of three pictures shows the general view west toward Tuolumne Meadows as you make the climb up to the top of Mt. Dana.North View North View North View
Past Dana Plateau the trail is harder to follow through the jumble of rocks, and a series of massive cairns help guide you up the proper path to the top of the mountain. Rock  Cairns Rock  Cairns
Finally reaching the summit, there is a phenominal view of Mono Lake to the east, 5500' in elevation below the summit. Mono view 
This marmot was already at the top when I got there, and he was apparently (mistakenly) expecting some food for his trouble. Partner at the top
The benchmark at the top has taken a beating but is still mostly legible. Battered benchmark
From the peak the last two buildings remaining from the ghost town of Bennettville, credited with being the reason Tioga Pass was originally created.  The second picture for reference is a shot back up at the peak of Dana from Bennettville. BennettvilleBennettville
Yours truly at the summit with the Yosemite High Country in the background. Yours truly at the summit
A toast to my dad for the great views from the peak. Dad's toast
The mountains to the north are pretty rugged and pretty spectacular. Rough country 
Looking southwest toward Mt. Lyell, the tallest peak in Yosemite which has Mt. Dana in second by less than 30 feet. Mt. Lyell
After signing the summit register, one last look at Mono Lake before starting the descent back down to the trailhead. One more mono look
Starting on the way back down, I finally saw some other humans making their way slowly across Dana Plateau.  Got to talk with both of the groups, one of which included someone from nearby Sacramento (to me.) Other climbers 
Still above Dana Plateau, I was able to see my car parked along the road and the ever lengthening stream of cars waiting to get into the National Park. My car
The way back down was definitely much faster than the climb, and though it looks far from this point, I was back down to the Plateau within about 15 minutes from this spot. Closing in on the plateau
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike