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I needed to get out and check on my condition after taking about a month off, also to see if I would have any problems witht he altitude (8000-9000 feet). This hike has a (shuttle bus) bailout that cuts 9 miles off the total. Map(s) of perambulations below.
The weather forecasts were for sunny, clear, and pleasant to warm. I was looking for a moderate hike with good mileage, at decent altitude. Bonus for being (partly) on trails new to me. I didn't remember doing the McGee Creek Trail before, but once I was on it, I remembered it from a very rushed hike a few years ago and the waterfalls on the Tuolumne are always nice. From Tuolumne Meadows, I followed the Tenaya Lake Trail, which more or less follows the Tioga Road.
After an early start from SF, I arrived at Tenaya Lake at 10:30, and was on the trail by 10:45. Since I was there, I did a little loop towards the May Lake Trail and back on the Olstead Point Trail, including the tiny Connector Trail (0.7 miles new mileage).
After casting about a bit I found the Sunrise - Murphy Creek Trail Connector, actually is almost directly across the Tioga Road from the Sunrise Trail. About a mile of nearly unused trail (overgrown in places...although the tread is in good condition, the connection with the main Murphy Creek Trail is unsigned and obscure, at a stream crossing). It does provide a pleasant alternative to roadwalking between the Sunrise TH and the Murphy Creek TH.
To Glen Aulin, the trail is mostly through forest, with few views, although the ones you get are awfully nice, not much breeze, so a bit hot. McGee Lake is very pretty, and quite a few people were splashing around in it. After the drop into Glen Aulin, it is a uneven climb up to Tuolumne Meadows, made rewarded by the series of waterfalls and cascades you pass. Quite a change from last year, when I did it early in the season, this time, there was more definition to the falls, unlike the huge rambunctious water in early June. Fair number of backpackers and dayhikers on this trail. Somewhat less tree cover and more expansive views in general.
Once I was on the Tenaya Lake Trail, I only saw people crossing the trail, at the JMT and some climbers headed for some pretty rocks near Fairview Dome. Even through the trail is almost entirely within earshot of the Tioga Road (indeed, some portions are abandoned road traces), it is surprisingly pleasant, and provides interestingly different views of very familiar sights from the road. There is also nobody on it, and the tread is more like a remote forest service trail, except for the incongruous overbuilt park service footbridges. It has a pleasant amount of up and down. The final section on the south side of Tenaya Lake is easy and very pretty.
A good hike with nice mileage and decent ascent, although it lacks major sustained ascents and descents, in this case, a good thing! Total mileage of 23.5 miles, total ascent about 2450 feet, 7:35 from start to finish.
Map of hike location and route detail maps, route in fuschia
Tenaya - Tuolumne Loop / Robert Parks / firstname.lastname@example.org / revised