2012 Mono Meadow to Ottoway Lake

Description: 5 day 37 mile out-and-back from Mono Meadow to Lower Ottoway Lake with a layover day to Red Peak Pass


Unlike most trails that gain elevation immediately from the trailhead, the Mono Meadow trail descends for about the first 3 miles, allowing one to slowly prepare for the miles ahead. The trail bottoms out and begins to ascend at the junction with the Buena Vista Trail. Richard and I had great views of granitic domes and also passed through 2 burn areas where regrowth was evident before settling down to camp along the Illilouette Creek.

A less viewed side of Half Dome

Remnants of a forest fire

Illiloutte Creek ponds

Day 2:

From our campsite, we hiked a little over 4 miles to the Merced Pass junction before turning left for another ~3.4 miles to Lower Ottoway Lake.

Lower Ottoway Lake below Red Peak

Day 3:

Today we would dayhike up to Red Peak Pass, the highest peak on trail in Yosemite and also explore Upper Ottoway Lake. We passed a few backpackers along the way and were glad we were only carrying our day packs. The last section before the pass was especially steep but we were rewarded at the top with views of many Yosemite peaks.

Lower Ottoway Lake

Upper Ottoway Lake

Trail to Red Peak Pass

NE from Red Peak Pass, L-R: Mt Florence, Mt Maclure, Mt Lyell, Rodgers Peak, Banner Peak, Mt Ritter

Upper Ottoway Lake from Red Peak Pass

Sunset at Ottoway Lake campsite


Days 4 and 5:

With the main events of Ottoway Lake and Red Peak Pass over, our plan was to head back along Illilouette Creek. We found a nice campsite along the Clark Fork just above a waterfall. On the last day after exiting the trail, we drove up to Glacier Point to marvel at the panorama along with the other tourists.

Lower Ottoway Lake

Ottoway Lake

Waterfall at the Clark Fork of Illilouette Creek

Mt Starr King

Glacier Point view