• Activities:

    Stand Up Paddle, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    14 Miles

Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Hike to beautiful High Sierra lakes for breathtaking views and solitude.

Before you head out for the trip, you’ll need to get a wilderness permit. You can get one online from the Yosemite website or pick one up at the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center or from the Wilderness Center in Yosemite Valley.

Go to Yosemite and take Highway 120 up to Tuolumne Meadows. You can park along the road for free where there is space. The first part of the trail is combined with the John Muir Trail, so you can join from the road near the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center (about 600 feet east of the Visitor Center) or continue slightly further down 120 and go through the Tuolumne Meadows Campground, which is located behind the Tuolumne Meadows Store. Just beyond the store, Yosemite National Park Road eventually turns into the trail after passing through the campgrounds.

As you leave the campground area you’ll be following along the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. The Pacific Crest Trail joins up and eventually you’ll come to a fork in the trail right before a bridge crosses Rafferty Creek. Follow the Rafferty Creek Trail and head south. You’ll continue on the trail and pass through a lodgepole forest and switchbacks. Then the trail will open up a bit as you pass through several meadows. The trail will ascend a bit to Tuolumne Pass and then ascend further up to the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp area.

From here it’s just a short walk east to Fletcher Lake. This area offers some nice spots to camp with tree cover and easy access to water (and access to the High Sierra Camp bathrooms). If you want an even more secluded spot, break from the trail and continue east along Fletcher Lake and stay at Upper Fletcher Lake. This also a nice place to swim and hang out during the day.

For a great peak hike, take the trail south to hike Vogelsang Peak. It offers spectacular views of the area and you can even see Half Dome down in Yosemite Valley. You’ll want to follow the trail past Vogelsang Lake. At this point, you’ll be going off trail to the southwest. There’s a grove of trees that you’ll want to work your way through and then head up the elbow of the ridge where there are a bunch of boulders. Be careful in this area as many of the rocks are loose and it can be a bit of a scramble.

Once you climb your way to the top of the ridge, enjoy the view before heading north along the ridge and towards the peak. Cairns will give you a general idea of which way to go, but it’s really a free for all as you weave through bushes to reach the top. From the peak you can see down to Vogelsang Lake, over to Mt. Dana and can even make out Half Dome. After enjoying the view, head back down the same route and back to camp.

Vogelsang Pass, just south of Vogelsang Lake offers beautiful views as well.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camping stove/fuel
  • Food/snacks
  • Bear canister
  • Trekking poles
  • Water filter
  • Water
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Bugspray
  • Clothes/Jacket
  • Headlamp
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Camera
  • Wilderness Permit
  • Map
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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