Yosemite: Trail Running With Respectful Abandon

For outdoor enthusiasts, Yosemite National Park and the surrounding wilderness areas provide near-limitless recreation options. But it's unlikely runners immediately think of the locale for their long-distance pursuits.

But with its vast hiking trail system and enticing scenery, it's no surprise the southern areas near the park, for example, have hosted three unique events at Bass Lake and Fish Camp.

Unofficially, of course, the park's miles of hiking trails are ideal for long-distance runners. They can train with respectful abandon.

But it's the official events, with enticing names like Shadow of the Giants 50km and the Smokey Bear Run, that could enhance a vacationing family's visit. Likewise, the events provide niche options for runners seeking small crowds and homespun races.

The Shadow of the Giants 11K and 50K trail runs begin in Fish Camp, about two miles south of Yosemite's southern entrance.

The course progresses past 2,700-year-old Giant Sequoia trees in the famed Nelder Grove and encompasses elevations from 5,000 to 6,500 feet. For the past several years, the field has included about 100 runners, some of whom are the country's finest ultramarathoners.

The Wawona Hotel (info: www.yosemitepark.com), a short drive into park, is the host site for the post-race barbeque and one of many options for runners' accommodations.

The hotel, a National Historic Landmark built in 1876, is home to Wawona Golf Course, the second-oldest course in a national park. The golf course and the hotel's surrounding property are also the starting point for a series of six detailed hiking and running routes ranging from 3.5 to 12 miles.

The 3.5-mile option, the Wawona Meadow Loop, is categorized as an easy, 90-minute hiking loop and is partially paved. Another option, categorized as strenuous, is called Alder Creek.

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About the Author

James Raia

James Raia, co-author of Tour de France For Dummies, is a freelance writer in Sacramento, California. Visit his web site: www.byjamesraia.com

James Raia, co-author of Tour de France For Dummies, is a freelance writer in Sacramento, California. Visit his web site: www.byjamesraia.com

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