Trail Mavens


Skill-based camping and backpacking trips for groups of extraordinary women. Ready to build fires, read maps, pitch tents, hike, laugh, and drink wine around the campfire? Join one of our weekend adventures.

yosemite backpacking
july 2-4

adventure type:


activity rating:

extremely rigorous


Make sure you read our FAQ for juicy details that are relevant to all our trips!

Trip Highlights

  • Conquer the ultimate Yosemite challenge: Half Dome
  • Explore Yosemite's pristine high Sierra backcountry, far from the crowds that clog the Valley floor
  • Learn and practice lightweight packing, map reading, backcountry cooking, water purification, and Leave No Trace principles
  • Conquer 26 miles of the John Muir Trail passing through evergreen forests, granite mountains, and blue alpine lakes
  • Hang, learn, and laugh with a posse of inspiring, go-getting women
  • Relax and unplug without emails or cell phones
  • A portion of your ticket goes back to Yosemite National Park, to preserve and protect this resource for future generations

Itinerary Summary


9am meetup at Yosemite's Big Oak Flat ranger station to obtain permits, divide and pack gear, hold Trail Mavens opening ceremonies, and drop our cars off on the Valley floor before busing to our trailhead in Tuolumne Meadows. Hike 7.1 miles along the John Muir Trail, crossing Cathedral Pass, before setting up our tents for the night at Sunrise Campsite.


Early morning wakeup with oats & coffee to fuel our bodies, 7 miles along the John Muir Trail and Sunrise Creek before dropping our packs to tackle the toughest 5 miles of our trip (Half Dome), descend the dome and stuff our faces before falling into bone-tired sleep.


Hike 6.5 miles down to the Yosemite Valley floor via Nevada Fall, the Emerald Pool, and Vernal Fall, finally emerging at the Happy Isles trailhead; wrap-up and closing ceremonies, hugs and high fives, and departure!

Guides reserve the option to modify itinerary as necessary to accomodate changes in weather, illness, injury, or other unforeseen incidents.


  • All Yosemite / Half Dome backcountry permits and fees
  • Guided, hands-on outdoor skills instruction and facilitation
  • Meals: Saturday lunch/dinner, Sunday breakfast/lunch/dinner, Sunday breakfast/lunch; snacks, wine, and bourbon for sipping in the moonlight
  • Shared items: tents, maps, stoves, cookware, fuel, camp chairs, lanterns, and care from a WFR-certified guide
  • Backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, mess kit, and headlamp are provided at no additional cost for any woman who does not have her own

physical fitness

As a group, we'll be tackling 26 miles over three days, including one twelve mile day and a Half Dome summit, carrying between 30-35 lbs. in your pack. We'll hit a max elevation on Saturday of nearly 10,000 ft., and much of the trip will take place between 7,000 and 9,500 ft. As such, this trip is recommended only for women with previous backpacking experience, experience at elevation, and comfort with long distance hiking. 

If this trip sounds too strenuous, we recommend our backpacking trips in August and September, which feature stunning scenery with less mileage.


You probably already knew this, but we'll be sleeping in two- or three-person tents. You'll share your tent with 1-2 other awesome trip participants.

We are strong believers in delicious food to fuel adventure, and take care to create healthy, tasty menus (think oatmeal and dried berries before a big hike, or couscous and veggies for dinner). We're happy to plan around our vegetarian and vegan Trail Mavens. Gluten-intolerant? We've got you covered! However, because providing gluten-free meals requires us to shift our plans for the entire group, we ask you note it during registration only if it presents a health issue for you, rather than an inclination.

+ Packing List

  • Sleeping bag rated at 30° or colder
  • Sleeping pad
  • Headlamp with new batteries or spares
  • 50L backpack (or larger) with rain fly
  • Backpacking bowl/cup/spork
  • A sense of adventure
  • Sleeping bag liner (if borrowing a Trail Mavens sleeping bag)
  • Personal clothing
  • Sturdy, broken-in walking/hiking shoes
  • Water bottles and/or hydration bladder with a minimum 2L capacity
  • Sunscreen/sun hat/sunglasses
  • Health insurance card & ID
  • Tampons/pads as needed
  • Toothbrush/mini toothpaste
  • Personal medications
  • Glasses or contacts with solution
  • A pen
  • (Trail Mavens alumnae only): previous Field Notes
  • Optional: hiking poles (esp. if you have knee issues), lightweight backpacking pillow, earplugs, lightweight sandals for hanging out at our campsite, camera, bandana or Buff to keep sun off your neck

Items in bold provided at no additional cost for any women who does not have her own!


Participants are responsible for their own transportation to/from Yosemite. For trip participants departing from the Bay Area, Trail Mavens will make every effort to coordinate carpools. Each passenger will contribute to their driver to cover park entrance fees, gas, wear, and tear (not included in trip investment).

If no trip participants/insufficient trip participants own cars, Trail Mavens will share contact information so you can band together and split a rental.


We take participant health and risk management very seriously on our trips. All Trail Mavens primary leaders hold Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid certifications. In remote destinations, we carry a DeLorme two-way signaling device, allowing us to contact authorities and Trail Mavens HQ in case of emergency. We minimize risk on the trail by keeping groups together while hiking, encouraging everyone to drink water and apply sunscreen, and making sure we're prepared with gear appropriate to our activities. Before registering, please read the terms of conditions of Trail Mavens' release. Any questions about participant health and risk management on our trips? Contact


Plan to book flight arriving in the Bay Area on Friday and departing no earlier than 10pm Monday night, or Tuesday morning.

+ Gift certificates

Want to give this trip as a gift? Trail Mavens gift certificates are available here.

+ payment plans

We don't want finances ever to be the thing that gets in the way of your coming on a Trail Mavens trip. With that in mind, we offer installment plans, so you can spread out trip payment over three months. Sound appealing? Email and we'll get you set up.

+ cancellation policy

Should you decide to cancel your trip for any reason, Trail Mavens is able to offer refunds at the following rates:

  • 21+ days prior to trip departure date: 50% of trip cost refunded.
  • 14-20 days prior to trip departure date: 25% of trip cost refunded.
  • 0-13 days prior to trip departure: No refunds.