Trip Report: Dewey Point, Yosemite National Park
Location: Dewey Point, Yosemite National Park
Duration: Overnight trip
Difficulty: Super Mellow! 4 mile hike, 8 mile round trip, 300ft elevation change.
Kid Friendly: Yes
Usefull links: www.nps.gov
The Full Report:
At around 5:00 pm, I semi-frantically arrived at the Big Oak Flat ranger station on the western entrance to Yosemite National Park. I had just dropped some friends off at the summer camp they were working at, and I had to be back at the camp the next day by noon. This gave me less than 24 hours to spend in the park. To be honest, I was considering sleeping in the national forest just outside the ranger station for the sake of convenience: Would it even be worth it to get a park pass, a backpacking permit, rent a bear can, drive through the massive park, and potentially hike through the dark just to wake up and book it out of there the next day?
The Answer--Yes. I told the ranger my predicament and she suggested I camp at Dewey Point and hike in from Glacier Point road. I worked for several summers leading kids on backpacking trips through the park and I felt pretty familiar with the area, but I had never hiked this trail. Now that I have had the pleasure, I can honestly say Dewey point is arguably the best beginner/mellow backpacking destination you can do in Yosemite National Park. Not only is it relatively short hike, just under 4 miles, it is fairly flat with only 300 feet of elevation change. Best of all, Dewey Point is a spectacular viewpoint: it is perched directly across the Yosemite Valley from El Cap and has views of Half Dome, Cloud’s Rest, and Yosemite falls.
The hike from the Glacier Point Road starts at the McGurk Meadow trailhead. The trail rolls up and down mildly, as it weaves through meadows, pines, and granite boulders. The hike is pretty straightforward with only one fork, 2 miles in, where the McGurk Meadows trail joins the Pohono Trail. I was hiking it in late May, so there were some creek crossings, where I had to get a little creative with my footing but other than that, the trail was mellow and beautiful. As soon as you reach Dewey Point, the trail suddenly opens to a breathtaking view of the valley, and the forest and meadows fall away to granite cliffs. There are plenty of clear sandy patches to set up camp and while there were two other groups camping nearby there was plenty of space and trees to really feel immersed in wilderness. Even though I got on the trail late, there was plenty of sunlight left to pitch a tent, make dinner, and watch a classic Yosemite sunset over the Merced River.
Given the short nature of the hike and its spectacular finale, I would recommend this hike for anyone looking for a non-strenuous backpacking trip or for those who only have a little bit of time in the park. It’s perfect for kids, first-timers, and casual backpackers who just want a quick hike but still want the views. Additionally, it was very easy logistically: just get a wilderness permit from a ranger station, rent a bear can for only $5 a week, and get out there. The hike is short enough that one can even pack in water. It’s also a great way to get a campsite as Yosemite can get overwhelmingly crowded in the peak season. I would 100% recommend.