|Yosemite Valley from the Mt Hoffmann saddle|
Among the trailheads to choose from for a partial-day hike on the way up Tioga Road, the May Lake area offers what is arguably one of the best payoffs in terms of the interestingness and character of the landscape, compared with the relative ease of accessibility. The May Lake trailhead provides access to the 10 Lakes Basin, and other longer distance trails, but is also a great area for some fantastic hike destinations that provide a real back-country feel, but can be reached without embarking on an all day trek covering scores of miles and challenging elevation changes. The trailhead elevation of 8700 feet also makes it a good acclimation day hike venue. That’s important if you live at virtual sea level as I do nestled in the heart of the anthill in the bay area. The weather-beaten sub-alpine terrain and ubiquitous granite features are stark and compelling and a lot of fun to ponder and explore. Plus there are lots of little un-named lakes and ponds all around, and plenty of wild flowers to keep you interested. One of the most prominent features in the area is Mount Hoffmann. The striking profile of this peak is popularly recognizable and is a visible feature from many of other vantage points around Yosemite; which tends to make one wonder what sights you could see if you were to hike to the top. The actual summit of Mt Hoffmann, being a collection of jagged rock pinnacles and crests, is not accessible to hikers, but there is a hike-able “saddle” at the top which is covered by what is essentially, a high meadow. There’s a lot of room to wander up there, and yes; there is a trail despite it's absence on most maps.
The trail to Mt Hoffmann is not marked on many of the maps I’ve seen including my own National Geographic topo map. Apparently, it’s not an official park trail, but many people know of it, especially if they’ve ever stayed at May LakeHSC. Many of the peak trails in Yosemite are referred to as “social trails”; meaning, that they are not officially maintained. Often, on this type of a trail, it is your responsibility as the hiker to look for the cairns that mark the way, and recognize the signs of usage routes in order to discern the trail. And they often can have some very steep sections requiring careful footing, or even some scrambling. A GPS device is always a good thing to have, but not essential for this hike. The trail to Mt Hoffmann is one of the friendlier of the social trails. It’s very easy to follow despite the lack of permanent markings. To find it, you need only make your way to May Lake.
|May Lake from the Mt Hoffmann saddle|
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Click here to see my track log and trip report on Every Trail