Caltech Y: Making a World of Difference

Y-Hike 2017

The annual Y-Hike to the Sierras is a spectacular way to begin your Caltech Adventure!

On the 2017 Y-Hike, organized and led by current Caltech students, you will backpack in the magnificent High Sierras of California.  Our group will be divided into smaller student led backpacking teams based on participant trip preference. . . so everyone from the novice to the seasoned outdoor enthusiast is welcome to join in on the Y-Hike. In the past, groups have also included new and returning students, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as women and men. The Y-Hike is a great way to meet other students.



Orientation and Packing late morning – Monday, September 11th - 11:00 AM at the Caltech Y (Map)

Packing and Equipment List Here

Cost: $

Please fill out the electronic form below. You will be asked to pay the full amount on the final pages of the e-form. If you prefer to send a check instead of paying by credit card you may. The deadline for on-line applications is July 26th. However, applicants are accepted on a first come first served basis, so make sure to sign up early.

You should receive an email confirmation indicating that we have received your form once you have submitted it.  We will send you a confirmation indicating your status as a trip participant by the end of July with additional information you will need to prepare for the trip. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Caltech Y at:

(626) 395-6163 or


Wednesday, July 26th - Deadline for applications to the Y-Hike. Spaces are limited, applicants accepted on a first come first serve basis. Preference will be given to new students. Please complete the form and make payment with credit card or mail your check for $ by this date to hold your spot on the trip.

You will receive a confirmation via email.

Monday, September 11th, 11:00 AM - Mandatory Orientation and Packing Session for all Y-Hike participants. You must attend this meeting to go on the trip.  Lunch is provided but dinner will be on your own.  We should be done by late afternoon. 

Please note that we will be packing our backpacks for the trip, with group equipment and personal gear, so even if you are returning home Tuesday night you should bring everything with you to the meeting.

Tuesday, September 12th, 7:00 AM - Depart for the Sierra's. We will be gone for five nights.

Sunday, September 17th - Return to campus.  We will arrive late afternoon just in time for Orientation activities.  If parents are planning to be here on Sunday for new student check in, be advised that we will not be back until late afternoon.

Meals while backpacking will be provided, but we will make fast food stops while traveling to and from the Sierras that will be your responsibility.


When should I arrive on campus?  It is essential that you be here for the mandatory Orientation and Packing day Monday, September 11th – starting late morning… but you can arrive early if that works better for your travel plans.  There are typically a few who arrive the day before.

Where can I stay before the trip?  Those who are local, including grad students who’ve checked in, usually return to their own lodgings at night.  Most of those coming from farther away choose to “camp-in” on the floor at our office.  Our office is located in a small house with restrooms, a few couches, and a nice carpeted floor. 

What should I do with my stuff?  Those of you arriving with items for the year - that aren’t going with you on the trek - can store them in one of our offices or rooms at the Caltech Y while you are on the trip.

When can I get into my room?  Undergrad check-in is Sunday, September 17th.  Early check-in is typically available through the Housing Office for a fee if you would prefer to check in prior to the trip.  If your parents plan to here and you would like them to have access to your room to drop off supplies prior to our return, you will be able to grant them approval to access your room on Sunday before we return.

Grad check-in is separate and most incoming grads are in prior to the trip.

Who will be in my hiking group?  Each hiking group will be made up of 6 to 12 participants, including the leaders.  The groups are typically co-ed with a mix of grads and UGs… although from time to time we have a single gender or class group.

How difficult will the trek be?  You will be placed in a group with others who have a similar preference for trek difficulty and who have made a similar assessment of their experience / fitness level as you have.   It is backpacking in the high sierras so it is not a walk in the park, but routes will be selected to provide easier or more difficult treks based on the sign ups.  Easier routes will likely still present some challenge while those selecting strenuous will be reminded that our focus is on getting to know one another while appreciating an amazing setting… not just checking off peaks.  The leaders are also prepared to make adjustments based on participant abilities on the trail. 

Who leads the hiking groups?  Most of our leaders are current Caltech students who have participated on the Y-Hike at one point themselves… however from time to time we also have alumni, and/or other students who have experience but never went on the Y-Hike as a participant.  Our leaders are not professional guides, but are experienced in the wilderness.  The Y-Hike, like other Y programs, is student led.

What equipment will I need?  The Y will have all the group equipment (tents, stoves, etc.) you need and can also provide you with a backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad if you don’t have your ownSee the packing list for a complete list of recommendations for personal attire and gear.

What is the Caltech Y anyway?  The Caltech Y is a separate, student driven, non-profit organization affiliated with Caltech.  We were founded as a student club, affiliated with the YMCA, in 1916 to provide programs planned by, and for, students… and to promote leadership development and self-discovery.  While the Caltech Y is no longer affiliated with the YMCA, the spirit of our founding remains - to enrich student life and provide opportunities that challenge students to be engaged citizens of the world. 

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2017 Y-Hike

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Click here to access the Y Hike Online Registration Form