trail up mt dana in yosemite
Hiking to Mt Dana summit.
Mt Dana
Snow-covered Mt Dana

Mt Dana

Northern Yosemite

Mt. Dana Hike, Tuolumne, CA, USA

Overview

Distance: 6 miles (9.6 km)
Elevation: 3,100 feet (945 m)
Difficulty: Hard

Mount Dana, located along the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park, is a majestic peak that captivates adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Rising to an elevation of 13,061 feet (3,981 meters), Mount Dana is only 61 feet shorter than the highest peak in Yosemite, Mt Lyell.

Mount Dana commands attention with its distinctive pyramid-shaped summit and rugged terrain. Named after James Dwight Dana, a prominent American geologist of the 19th century, this peak is mostly composed of a reddish metamorphic rock. 

Hiking Mt Dana

For peak baggers, Mount Dana represents an exciting challenge once the Tioga Road opens. Don’t let the relatively modest mileage fool you. Starting at an already breath-stealing 9,945 feet (3031m), and climbing an additional 3,000+ feet (900+ m) to the summit, requires fitness and preparation.

The most common route to the summit begins at the Tioga Pass entrance station. Park in the parking lot near the entrance station and then cross the road to begin the hikeing.

Although it is not an official park trail, the route is initially easy to follow. Hikers are treated to sweeping vistas of the surrounding wilderness, including the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada range, and the sparkling waters of Tioga Lake. In the right seasons, you’ll also want to stop and appreciate the flowers – from giant larkspur to alpine columbine and corn lilies, just to name a few. These “spring booms” last well into
August and even September.

As you continue higher, the landscape transforms into a stark alpine environment characterized by hardy shrubs and flowers (sky pilots!), rocky outcrops, and patches of snow that can linger into the summer months. The trail steepens and gets harder to follow across the increasingly large rocks and boulders. Sets of cairns (aka ducks) provide suggestions on possible routes, but can also be misleading depending on who created the stack of rocks. Know your abilities, be aware of your surroundings, and make good decisions.

Mt. Dana is a striking summit with awe-inspiring views in a magnificent location, whether you choose to hike to the summit, venture part way, or simply enjoy this mountain from the base.