This trail begins from the White Wolf Campground and traverses northwestward to join Smith Peak Trail. The trail starts by following an abandoned road that leads north on the western side of the campground. This road parallels the Middle Tuolumne River for the first mile and a half then crosses a tributary curving westward.
The road steadily descends as it leads past a once developed area of the park. Approximately two miles from the campground the road forks with trails leading northwestward and southwestward. Take the high route (north) passed Harden Lake.
After walking nearly one mile north on the Harden Lake Road you'll come to a trail junction. The trail to the right leads eastward as the Pate Valley Trail. The trail to Smith Peak is still as wide as a road and leads toward the northwest corner of Harden Lake.
Beyond the lake the trail narrows and becomes a single track. It continues to descend slowly and crosses glacial remains as it turns westward. The trail leads westward through a series of meadows, crossing small streams. Three and a half miles from Harden Lake this trail crosses Cottonwood Creek and skirts the southern flanks of Smith Peak. From this stream crossing it is approximately one mile to the junction with the Smith Peak Trail. This junction lies at approximately 6,500 feet. Backcountry campsites are available in this general area.
To reach Smith Peak turn right on to Smith Peak Trail. From this junction it is one and a half miles to the summit. The trail climbs quickly from this junction in a northeasterly direction. It leads through three high meadows which may be snow covered through June. The trail traverses the western slope of the peak then reaches an overlook of the reservoir. It then turns eastward and climbs 250 feet to the 7,751-foot summit.
Directions from Arch Rock Entrance: Travel northward along the Merced River to Old Big Oak Flat Road. Turn left on this road and travel 9.5 miles to Tioga Road. Turn right on Tioga Road and drive eastward to the turn off for White Wolf Campground. Park near the campground and begin your hike toward Harden Lake.
July through Mid-October
(NOTE: Opening and closing dates may vary depending on snowpack.)