A moderate winter trek with spectaclar vistas
By Matt Johanson
Distance: Seven miles
Time: Four to six hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Parking and trailhead: Badger Pass Ski Area, elevation 7,216 feet
Highest point: Elevation 7,560 feet
Best season: January through March
Permits: None needed for day use but required for overnight travel; visit the Badger Pass A-frame rangers’ office
A marked, well-traveled trail leads to a spectacular viewpoint and an especially good view of El Capitan. The gentle route meanders through a peaceful meadow and forest before descending to the valley rim where visitors can see deep into the snow- capped backcountry. Return the same way or take a more challenging ridge variation back instead. This is a must for Yosemite winter enthusiasts.
The ski trek
Start east on the well-groomed Glacier Point Road, climbing gently and then descending at Summit Meadow. About a mile from the parking lot, look for the signed Dewey Point Meadow Trail (#18) on your left, breaking from the road and heading north. The next mile is easy going through the flat meadow along a creek and framed by lodgepole pines.
Then the trail drops and becomes more difficult, joining with the Dewey Point Ridge Trail as it passes through denser trees before emerging for a final climb to the rim and viewpoint at 7,385 feet. You’ll feel like you’re looking off the edge of the world. Spend some time here admiring El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks and other spectacular landmarks.
When you’re ready to return, you have a choice of routes. If the trip out challenged you, then it’s best to return the same way. But if you’re ready for some variety, a few hills and a more rigorous segment, then you might try the Dewey Point Ridge Trail (#14). To choose this option, retrace your steps about a mile to the signed trail junction and turn right up the hill. The signed route rolls up and down like a roller coaster. As usual, skiers will get a bigger payoff on the downhills than snowshoers.
The trail connects with Glacier Point Road. Turn right towards the Badger Pass parking lot, less than a mile to the west.
Because skiers and snowshoers both frequent the Dewey Point Meadow Trail, it’s important for each group to stay on their respective tracks. Snowshoes break up ski tracks by walking over them and put skiers at risk of falls and injuries.
Skiers should take skins for the steeper parts of the outing, especially if they intend to return on the Dewey Point Ridge Trail.
If you have time at Dewey Point, you may want to trace the rim west for a half- mile to reach Crocker Point or a mile to reach Stanford Point.
Consider spending a night here. The sunset and sunrise are incomparable.
Matt Johanson is the author of Yosemite Adventures, a guidebook of hikes, climbs and treks to be released in 2014. His writing can be found at mattjohanson.com.