Skip to content

2006: Toulomne Meadow to Matterhorn Pass Loop

August 26, 2006

Trip report for Tuolumne Meadows to Matterhorn Pass Loop
(40 miles)
July 23–27, 2006
Nick and Fred

Day 1: Tioga Pass to Cascade Lake (8 miles)

Day 2: Cascade Lake to Virginia Canyon Return (4.2)

Day 3: Virginia Canyon Return to Spiller Creek (4.7 miles)

Day 4: Spiller Creek to Pacific Crest Trail, with first attempting to do Matterhorn Pass (8.8 miles)

Day 5: PCT to Glen Aulin (9.6 miles)

Day 6: Glen Aulin to Tuolumne Meadows (5.5 miles)

Topo with route

Profile full

This trip report is a little sketchy on details, as I did not keep a journal of it at the time, so having to recreate it just from the pictures and where we stayed each night.  This trip was cross-country for the first 4 days. While the mileages those days were not difficult, the terrain and passes made it challenging, at least for us. Also it had been a heavy snow year, so there was a bit of crossing snow fields. It also made for great views.

I had only met Fred online though Craigs List before the trip, and he had done the route planning. We met the evening before at the Tuolumne campground.


Day 1: Tioga Pass to Cascade Lake (8 miles)

Profile day 1

10,000 – 11,000 – 10,300 – 10,800 – 9,800′ – 10,500 – 10,000 – 11,000 – 10,400 – 10,700 – 10,300

Nick and Fred at Gaylor Lakes Trail Head at Tioga Pass

We took one car from the Tuolomne Meadows to Tioga Pass at about 10,000 feet, and started there on the trail to Gaylor Lakes.

Gaylor Lake?

It drizzled on us a bit that morning, as we got to the Great Sierra Mines, where we headed off trial, up Mine Shaft Pass, over to Spuller Lake.

Nick crossing snow field

Then we went over Saddle 10350 and down to Lee Vining Creek. Luckily it did clear up to be a nice day alter. From there we headed over the east ridge of Mt. Conness and down to Conness Lake. We went then up North Peak East Ridge, and finally down to Cascade Lake, where we camped.

Campsite at dawn

That was a long day and we were exhausted by the time we got there, probably near 6pm. While no great elevation gains and losses it was a lot of up and down.

Day 2: Cascade Lake to Virginia Canyon Return (4.2 miles)

Profile day 2

10,300′ – 11,600′ – 9,200′

Fred was a late riser, and cooked real meals, even for breakfast, so we did not get early starts.

Nick at col

This day started with use heading up over Sky pilot col, a climb of about 1300 feet.

Shepherd lake

Then a quick drop back down to Shepherd lake.

I enjoyed a quick dip in this ice cold lake.

Nick at Campsite

Coming down into Virginia canyon we had to do a little bush whacking, and ford a stream. There were no clear camping sites, so we just found the best we could, a little clearing among the trees.

Day 3: Virginia Canyon Return to Spiller Creek (4.7 miles)

Profile day 3

9,200′ – 11,200′ – 9,800′

Nick Hiking

This day started with an initial climb up to Grey Butte Saddle.

Nick at pass

Then up over Stanton Pass, for a gain of abut 600’.

Nick climbs down

Had to do a little scrambling down the other side. Then down to Spiller Creek for a drop of 1,300 feet, just below a bit below 10,000.

Nick at campsite

We camped in the valley, finding a nice spot by a few trees.

Day 4: Spiller Creek to Pacific Crest Trail, with first attempting to do Matterhorn Pass (8.8 miles)

Profile day 4

9,800′ – 10,900′ – 8,600′

Where am I?

We started by heading up to Matterhorn pass. The plan had been to go over the pass to meet the trail down Matterhorn Canyon. However, after getting abut two thirds the way up, we were not sure if we would be able to do the pass, and after some discussion decided not to spend the time going further and possibly getting stymied, we decided instead to go back and head to Spiller creek.

The day was all gradual down, but not always easy going through areas of downed trees. We did stop by a nice pool where I took dip in the stream.


We ended the day meeting up with the Pacific Coast Trail, down at about 8800.

Day 5: PCT to Glen Aulin (9.6 miles)

Profile day 5

8,500′ – 9,400′ – 7,900′

After four days of off trail hiking and not seeing a soul, we were back on a real trail again.

Fred fording stream

We did ford one easy river, The started with a slight drop down to the Virginia Canyon Trail, and the a 600 climb up to McCabe Lake Trail,

then down Cold Canyon to the Glen Aulin campsite.

Near the campsite were some beautiful falls.


Glen Aulin was a bit of a shock for us, as it was a very busy crowded place, with even a outhouse. We managed to find a secluded area up and away from the main campsites.

Day 6: Glen Aulin to Tuolumne Meadows (5.5 miles)

Profile day 6

7,900′ – 8,600′

Our last day out was along easy trail, with a total gain of abut 600 feet, getting us back to Tuolumne Meadow campsite.

Fred crossing the bridge

Nick and Fred the Glen Aulin trailhead

To see the full set of pictures from this hike you can link here to my Flickr album

One Comment
  1. Fantastic trip. Great post. I highly recommend carrying microspikes for trips where you have to cross a snowfield but don’t really need full ice gear (an ice axe and crampons).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: