Summit Parsons, Vogelsang, and Rafferty Peaks

Rate this Adventure Tuolumne Meadows Campground

Majestic views of northern Yosemite to include Half Dome far off in the distance. You are on top of the Vogelsang area with vast landscapes for miles.

Starting in Tuolumne Meadows off of Highway 120 at the Lyell Canyon Trailhead at roughly 8,500 feet, you traverse through Lyell Canyon for about 5.5 miles. The steady walk through the canyon follows a beautiful river with tons of trout. About 3 miles into the canyon a beautiful bend in the river offers a nice deep pool for a dip on a hot day and lunch. At the 5.5 mile mark you hit a junction where you climb about 2,100 feet over 3 miles (a steep climb). Another junction appears where you turn south on a 1.5 mile trail straight to Ireland Lake. This lake is rarely camped and few visitors venture here. A wonderful place to camp.

The next day you back track 1.5 miles to the trail junction where you head to Vogelsang HSC. The backpacker's camping area is roughly 5 miles from Ireland Lake. That same day the motivated hiker can set up camp and go for Vogelsang Peak. The trail will bring you straight to Vogelsang Lake and from there it is a scramble. The workers at the HSC will gladly show you the best route (but I preferred to make my own). There are multiple ways to ascend the peak but I went for the shortest path and straight shot up to the saddle and then the peak. To each their own on that one. Atop the peak you can see the ridgeline for the next day's hike and this view is what inspired me to go for that peak the next day (unplanned!).

After a restful sleep, Parsons Peak is a long day hike for the motivated hiker. Again, head towards Vogelsang Lake and continue on the trail up to Vogelsang Pass. From there, you scramble up the ridge. This requires a lot of bouldering and level 1-2 climbing. Once atop the saddle, you head east along a 3 mile ridge that overlooks vast landscapes and valleys with Half Dome off in the distance. The trek is lots of rock walking so attention is essential. One can then descend down the scree above Hanging Basket Lake. It seems scary, but I assure you it is quite doable and absolutely worth the effort as you hike next to Hanging Basket Lake and Fletcher Lake back to Camp.

The 4th day offers a peak across the valley from Vogelsang. Rafferty Peak is a pure scramble. Once you reach Boothe Lake it is up to you how you ascend but the view from Rafferty Peak opens up a beautiful vista unseen from the other peaks. Upon completion Boothe Lake offers some great areas to take a jump into the lake to cool off.

The trip finishes by hiking out on a 5th day through the Rafferty Creek trail. The trip length is about 36-40 miles in length depending on your routes for the ascents. Vogelsang backpackers camp sits about 10,200 and the surrounding peaks are 11,516 (Vogelsang), 12,147 (Parsons), 11,110 (Rafferty). The gains in elevation are difficult.

Pack List

  • Permit
  • Tent
  • Bear Canister (required)
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Face cover for wind on ridge line
  • Food for 5 days
  • Fishing gear (if desired)
  • Water Purification ability
  • Hiking Boots
  • Suitable Backpack
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RT Distance 36 Miles
Activities Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer
Trail Type Loop
Features
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping

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