Climbing Mt. Dana: an easy and inspiring day hikeMt. Dana is a mighty but accessible peak on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park. It's the second-highest mountain in the park, and it is also one of the most convenient to climb: Dana rises to 13,061 feet, but you can reach the summit with an easy half-day hike.
Expect class 1 trails, 3,000 feet of elevation gain, and several hours of somewhat strenous hiking. The trail to the top is not always well-maintained, but it is marked clearly with cairns, or "ducks": small piles of stones that indicate the way. Follow the signs of your fellow hikers as gnarled pines give way to a stony moonscape.
The view from the summit is panoramic and breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see for miles: west across the Sierra, east into the Nevada desert, south into Death Valley, and north along the long, lonely sweep of Highway 395.
Look for the trailhead to Mt. Dana along Tioga Road, just inside the eastern portal to Yosemite National Park. This is a convenient stop for those entering or leaving the park, but it is also a short pitch from the north-south thoroughfare of Highway 395. Park at the Tioga Pass Entrance Station and follow signs for Mt. Dana. Ask a ranger or a fellow hiker for directions if you have any trouble.
Be conscious of the weather, and look out for the sudden onset of summer thunderstorms. Make sure to bring a snack for the summit!