Mount Hoffman Route Delineation

Yosemite National Park » Mount Hoffman Route Delineation » Document List

This project proposes to delineate a route from May Lake (9,350') to the top of Mt Hoffman (10,850'). The approximately two mile hike up to the top of Mt. Hoffman is very popular with day hikers and visitors staying at the May Lake High Sierra Camp. There is not a designated trail to the top of the peak, resulting in multiple informal paths crisscrossing the fragile slopes and dozens of rock cairns leading in different directions. Delineation of one route would promote preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources and wilderness character.

The most heavily used path begins at the southwest end of May Lake and quickly ascends to a rocky bench near a small drainage. A population of Congdon's sedge (Carex congdonii), a Yosemite special status plant, the type locality (where a plant is first identified and described) of Bishop's Cap (Mitella breweri)and a unique moss not yet described and recorded in only three locations in the park are found in this area and need to be protected.

The most heavily used path continues up the drainage to a small meadow. Multiple paths (becoming rutted) go through the edge of the meadow and then switchback through an open forest. The soil is loose and gravelly and several routes braid upward through the denuded, eroding slope. There are two more known populations of Congdon's sedge in this area. The last 0.75 miles of the route is characterized by sparsely vegetated alpine scree, highly erosive without anchoring vegetation. Most of these informal paths (except for those that lead to a false summit) eventually lead to one wide path (nearly 10 feet wide in some places) that steeply ascends to the top of the peak. This path heads straight down, is devoid of vegetation and has many washout gullies and water channels. Some hikers have also taken up "scree skiing" which causes further erosion and vegetation loss. Another small population of Congdon's sedge grows on the summit and would be protected through route delineation.

Wilderness, trails, restoration and cultural resource staff will collaborate to identify and delineate the most appropriate and resilient route location. Once a route is defined, it is imperative that all informal paths and impacted areas are restored to natural conditions to encourage hikers to stay on the delineated route. In order to preserve and protect the fragile subalpine and alpine vegetation and control erosion, the following actions are proposed:

• Delineate (by using rocks, logs and natural features and by restoring alternate routes to natural conditions) a route considering wilderness, hydrologic, vegetative and social impacts (Beginning in 2007)
• Build cairns (< 24" tall) to direct hikers to the route where it is difficult to find (2008)
• Remove existing rock cairns that mislead hikers (2007 & 8)
• Improve drainage patterns and minimize erosion with swales (2008)
• Re-route the path out of the small meadow and restore the rutted paths to natural conditions (2008)
• Restore and re-vegetate the lower, steeper portion of the "superhighway" to natural conditions and narrow the footprint of the upper, more gradual portion. (2008)
• Restore and re-vegetate informal paths and impacted areas to natural conditions (2008)
• Complete surveys for and protect known location of the unique moss genus Yosemitea (2007)
• Protect special status plant species and type localities (2007 & 8)
• Install signs at May Lake informing hikers of the project and encouraging them to stay on the delineated route. (2008)

In 2007, an inter-divisional group will delineate the route. Swales, route definition and restoration work will be completed in 2008. Cultural resource staff will conduct necessary field surveys and advise on all actions. Annual maintenance will continue for the first couple of years and then on an as needed basis. All minimum impact techniques will be used in completing this project.