OverviewMount Maclure is the good-looking peak just west of Mt. Lyell, and just slightly shorter. This peak requires a fairly long approach to any of its routes, but the route from Tuolumne Meadows is probably the easiest of the bunch, at around 13 miles and 3500 feet of elevation gain (most of the gain comes in the last 4-5 miles). You will likely cross the Lyell Glacier on your way up if approaching from the Northeast, and for those that care, the Lyell Glacier is the 2nd largest glacier in the Sierra (Like most of the others, it has been melting fast).
Getting ThereThe easiest place to start an ascent of Mt. Maclure is from Tuolumne Meadows, at the eastern trailhead for the John Muir Trail. This trailhead is located along the road leading to the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. There is a large parking area there. Tuolumne Meadows is alongside Highway 120, at about 8,600 feet elevation. The trailhead is on the south side of the parking lot. Follow the trail for about 1/2 mile, until just after crossing the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, and then tun left. Follow this pleasant, mostly flat trail along the river trail for about 8 miles more, and it will begin to climb. The trail works it way up toward Donohue Pass, and just before you cross the river for the last time, don't. Stay on the west side and continue up the drainage. The peak will soon come into sight. Head for the toe of the glacier, and then choose your route.
Red TapeTo enter Yosemite National Park, you must pay $20 for a 7-day pass, or $40 for an annual pass (Yosemite only). The other option is the America the Beautiful-National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass which gets you entrance to all of the National Parks for $80 per year. If you are dayhiking, there is no need for a wilderness permit. If you plan to bivy, you will need a wilderness permit, which may be hard to get, as this is a quota trail. For complete details check the NPS Yosemite site.
When To ClimbThe best time to climb this peak is when HIghway 120 is open, otherwise the approach is real long. Generally, Highway 120 is open May to October, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. To know for sure before you go, check in with the California DOT for the latest road conditions. Early season, expect lots of snow in a normal year due to the high elevation.
CampingIf you can get a wilderness permit, you may camp in the wilderness along the way. There are many popular sites along the Tuolumne River, and some good spots after Donohue Pass alongside the many tarns and seasonal streams. If you're dayhiking (best plan), there is camping in Tuolumne Meadows, and this site offers comprehensive information on camping in Tuolumne, and local weather as well. Also close by is the campground at Saddlebag Lake, and a couple of small campgrounds just outside the eastern border of the park along Highway 120.
EtymologyThis etymology info was posted by snwburd, and his contribution is appreciated.
"Named before 1868 by the Whitney Survey. 'To the pioneer of American geology, William Maclure, one of the dominating peaks of the Sierra Nevada is very properly dedicated' (Whitney, Yosemite Book, 1869, 101) . Maclure (1763-1840) became known as 'the father of American geology' because he produced, in 1809, the first geological map of the United States. The name is on the Hoffmann and Gardiner map of 1863-67 as 'Mt. Maclure.' The Wheeler Survey atlas sheet 56D had it misspelled as 'McClure Pk.' Both the mountain and the creek, called 'Fork,' were misspelled as 'McClure' on the first five edtions of the Mt. Lyell 30' map, 1901-22; corrected to the proper spelling with the edition of 1927. The former 'McClure Fork' (of the Merced River) was changed to 'Lewis Creek' on the 30-minute map in 1944. The BGN in 1932 approved 'Maclure Glacier' (on the north slope of Mount Maclure), and 'Maclure Lake' (at the head of Maclure Creek). Neither name has thus far been on the maps."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
"The very first true geological map of any part of North America and one of the earliest such maps compiled was the work of William MacLure. Born in the town of Ayr, MacLure made a brief visit to New York before returning to London where he became wealthy with an import-export firm. After another brief stay in the US where he became an American citizen, he returned to Europe to indulge his new love of geology, traveling throughout the continent to collect geological specimens and textbooks on the subject.
Upon his return, MacLure investigated the Appalachian Mountain range (at that time practically the Western frontier of the nation) publishing Observations on the Geology of the United States in 1809. He also helped found the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, which he generously endowed and in which his valuable library is now safely ensconced."
- Britannia (online)
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