Snow Peak is located near the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park in a remote area that sees few visitors each year. It sits at the northeast end of Tilden Lake, separating it from Stubblefield Canyon. The area is home to alpine meadows, a plethora of wildflowers, pockets of Lodgepole, Hemlock and Whitebark Pine trees, as well as a 20 foot waterfall in Tilden Creek that feeds down from Mary Lake.
There is some very enjoyable climbing to gain the south ridge from Tilden Lake over granite slabs and mostly stable boulders. The ridge cliffs out near the top to offer some Class 4 and Class 5 challenges, depending on your route selection. You can avoid the technical climbing by traversing south to a gravelly col. The south ridge is an easy run until it starts to ascend towards the summit, at which point you can hug the western ridgeline for some enjoyable Class 3 climbing and boulder hopping, or you can ascend the sandy slopes to the east, navigating the maze of Scrub pine trees. Either way, the final ascent will require some Class 3 climbing and boulder hopping.
The ascent from the north ridge is quite a bit more technical with some exposed Class 4 climbing required to gain the summit.
The closest trailheads to Snow Peak are located at the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the south, or at Leavitt Meadows from the north.
1) Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is accessible off of Route 120 near the western entrance to Yosemite National Park. From Hwy 120, drive north on Evergreen Road. Turn right on Hetch Hetchy Road and drive for 9.1 miles until you get to the parking area at O'Shaughnessy Dam.
The Hetchy Hetchy Road is only open at certain times, usually 7am-8pm. Check the NPS site for current times.
Take the trail north to Jack Main Canyon until you reach the PCT. Continue north until you reach the trail for Tilden Lake. Follow the trail on the western shore past the lake until you reach Snow Peak on the northeast side of the lake. (21 miles total)
2) Leavitt Meadows Pack Station is located on CA Hwy 108, just west of I-395. Free parking is available in the trailhead parking area near the campground, north of the pack station. You can hike the 19.5 miles to Snow Peak, or have Leavitt Meadows Pack Station take you all or part of the way. Rates for horses are available on their web site*.
Follow the West Walker River trail south all the way to Tower Lake. Continue south over a low use trail over the saddle to Mary Lake. Follow the use trail along the eastern shore past Mary Lake until you reach Snow Peak to the east.
* Call well in advance to reserve horse and guide if you decide to pack in with either one of the pack stations.
Free wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in Yosemite National Park.
Depending on your point of entry and which direction you are coming from, call one of the following ranger stations for wilderness permits.
Food Storage Bear cannisters are required by federal law in most areas of Yosemite National Park, and in all areas above 9600 ft. If you plan to camp at Mary Lake, you will need a bear cannister. Currently, they are not required at Tilden Lake. Please check here for the current requirements as conditions change over time.
The climbing season varys each year depending on how much snow the area receives during the winter months. Hwy 108 closes during the winter, making winter access from the north more difficult. The distance of Snow Peak from the nearest trailhead adds complexity to winter climbing. So typically the most popular time to climb the mountain is from June through October.
There are several excellent camp sites at the north end of Mary Lake. There is also a fair camp site at the northwest end of Tilden Lake, and another one near the middle of the lake by the peninsula/beach. There is better camping at the south end of Tilden Lake, albeit farther from the peak.
There is also excellent fishing in both Tilden and Mary Lakes. We caught 17-18 inch Rainbow Trout in Tilden. There are Golden Trout in Mary Lake.
There are numerous other peaks that can be bagged while in this remote area of northern Yosemite. Craig Peak, Tower Peak, the Saurian Crest, Keyes Peak, Chittenden Peak, Haystack Peak, Schofield Peak, Michie Peak, and Kendrick Peak, are all within a 5-mile radius of Snow Peak.
"An old, obvious name; the namer is unknown. The name is on the first Dardanelles 30' map, 1898." - Peter Browning, Yosemite Place Names