“A run through wide-open alpine tundra with spectacular views of the High Sierra.”
— Adam Hodges
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers
This run starts and ends at the Mono Pass Trailhead off Tioga Road (Highway 120) in Yosemite. It takes you above treeline where you’ll run through alpine tundra and soak in spectacular views from the top of two passes. Mono Pass, at 10,599 feet, sits between Mount Gibbs (12,772 ft.) and Mount Lewis (12,296 ft.) and affords a glimpse of Mono Lake from just over its eastern side. Parker Pass, at 11,100 feet, sits below the other side of Mount Lewis and provides an ideal vantage point for viewing Parker Peak (12,858 ft.), Koip Peak (12,972 ft.), and Kuna Peak (12,986 ft.).
Need to Know
There is a pit toilet and bear-proof storage lockers at the trailhead. Don’t leave food in your car; use the food lockers.
If you’d like to filter water, water sources along the route include the lakes on Mono Pass and creeks along the trail below the Mono Pass Trail
and Parker Pass Trail
juncture. There are no reliable water sources higher up on the Parker Pass Trail
From the Mono Pass trailhead, the trail starts off with a gentle climb through the forest for the first few miles and then ramps up for about 1.5 miles.
At about 3.25 miles, you reach a trail juncture. The Parker Pass Trail
branches right and the Mono Pass Trail
branches left. Continue left up to Mono Pass, which is only a third of a mile further.
Once you reach the top of Mono Pass, drop over the other side just a bit to gain a glimpse of Mono Lake in the valley below. Then turn around and head back to the trail juncture with the Parker Pass Trail
Turn left onto the Parker Pass Trail
. It climbs up a short hillside and then proceeds through a grove of conifers before opening up onto the wide-open alpine tundra. The trail then proceeds at a very gentle grade to Parker Pass, giving you time to admire the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
If you’d like to extend your run, continue over Parker Pass for a bit. Otherwise, turn around at the pass and head back down the way you came to the trailhead along Tioga Road.