IN THE 209 BACK­YARD Plenty of fun for ‘peak freaks’ within 3 hours

Mt. Dana, Sonora Peak eas­i­est lofty 209 goals to ac­cess

Riverbank News - - LIVING - By DEN­NIS WY­ATT

I ad­mit I’m a peak freak. If there is a peak above 3,000 feet that I can do within a three-hour or so drive from Man­teca I’m on it.

And by hik­ing I mean walk­a­ble with maybe some rock scram­bling and on a rare oc­ca­sion an ex­cur­sion that in­cludes a very small stretch that slightly pushes the limit to­wards need­ing rock climb­ing skills.

I have two “go to” peaks that I’ve now tack­led five times each in the past seven years – Sonora Peak and Mt. Dana. Both are within the 209. Both have easy to reach trail­heads right off a state high­way. Both have clear trails. Both of­fer com­mand­ing views. Both are right around three hours from Man­teca. And both are doable for most people.

I re­vis­ited Mt. Dana ear­lier this month. At 13,045 feet it’s the sec­ond high­est peak in Yosemite Na­tional Park topped only by Mt. Lyell some 66 feet higher.

It is also the eas­i­est peak over 13,000 feet to ac­cess in Cal­i­for­nia.

All you have to do is get on High­way 120 and head east on 120 un­til you reach the east­ern en­trance to Yosemite Na­tional Park at Tioga Pass. Keep in mind there is a $35 en­trance fee to the na­tional park that’s good for seven days. You can also get a 12-month Yosemite pass for $70 or an an­nual na­tional park pass for $80 if you plan on be­ing a fre­quent visi­tor.

The 4.8-mile round trip trail starts on the south side of the road at 9,624 feet. It goes through mead­ows and forests pop­u­lated with small lakes (about half have dried up

DEN­NIS WY­ATT/ 209 Liv­ing

PHOTO ACROSS THE TOP: Look­ing north to­ward Tioga Pass and High­way 120 from Mt. Dana’s 13,045-foot sum­mit in the spring of 2016. TOP PHOTO: Den­nis Wy­att on the top of Mt. Dana in July of 2015 with Mono Lake be­hind him. BOT­TOM LEFT PHOTO: A re­tired cou­ple mak­ing their way up the fi­nal 1,000 feet on their way to Mt. Dana ear­lier this month. BOT­TOM RIGHT PHOTO: A hiker al­most at the top of Mt. Dana dur­ing July of 2017.

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