Mt Tolkien (3404m) is the name we gave to the unnamed highest peak of the
several Echo Peaks in Yosemite.
It can be reached from Tuolumne Meadows going south or from Tenaya Lake
from the west. Below i describe both routes as a one-way hike from
Tuolumne Meadows to Tenaya Lake via Cathedral Lakes and Sunrise Lakes.
It requires leaving one car at Tenaya Lake (either at the Sunrise trailhead
or at the picnic area of the northeastern tip of the lake).
The hike starts at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead near the visitor center of
Tuolumne Meadows. This trail climbs up quickly to the lower lake (which
requires a 1km detour) and then to the second lake (that is much closer to
the trail). It then starts going downhill. This pass (Cathedral Pass) is
a good place to leave the trail and start climbing east towards the very
visible Echo Peaks, which are just south of the very popular (but lower)
Cathedral Peak. head for the left ridge that can be easily climbed to a
saddle. From the saddle there is only one peak that can be climbed easily.
It is not the highest but it has a nice western view and it is a really
short scramble. If you descend the saddle and keep going down you will
reach Echo Lake.
If you descend the saddle and turn left (avoid the steep granite slabs, of
course), you get to another saddle, from which you can summit the much higher
Mt Tolkien. This same mountain can be reached directly from the north (from
the Cathedral Lakes) as well as from the south (from Echo Lake).
This is the highest point around, from which you have perfect views of
Cathedral Peak (north), Unicorn Peak (northeast), Cockscomb (east) and
Matthes Ridge (south).
Descend to Echo Lake by simply following the drainage and then coast the lake to the west (left). If you stay a bit higher than the creek, eventually you will hit the trail that comes up from Lake Merced. Climb that trail to the pass and then down to the John Muir Trail. Turn left into the JMT for a short section until you reach the vast meadows of the High Sierra Camp (HSC). Turn right at the junction and you'll be climbing again. After this pass you descend towards the first and second Sunrise Lake. Eventually you hit the Sunrise trail that goes to Tenaya Lake (north) and Clouds Rest (south). Go north (right) and you descend quickly to Tenaya Lake. Just before the lake there is another junction: now you have to remember where you parked your second car. If you parked it at the Sunrise trailhead, go straight; if you parked it at the picnic area at the northeastern corner, go right.