Back to index Lyell Canyon to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp Hike
Trip Date:  08/19/2015

: 11.2 Miles

Vertical Gain: 35

Group Size: 6
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
Lyell Vogelsang Hike
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Lyell to Vogelsang Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 37 44.342, W 119 24.389     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates

Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   The parking for the Lyell Canyon trailhead is at Tuolumne Meadows, just a little west of the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge.  To get there, take Highway 395 south from Monitor Pass toward Mono Lake.  At Lee Vining, turn on Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) and enter Yosemite Park on the east side.  About 10 miles into the park turn at the Wilderness Permit area (Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Road) and continue to the parking coordinates for backpacker vehicles.
Hazards of Note:   None. Crowd Factor:   Medium.  The first 5 1/2 miles up Lyell Canyon is along the John Muir trail, and is a relatively popular backpacking area on the way between Yosemite and Mt. Whitney further to the south.  Once the trail leaves and heads up toward Ireland Lake and Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, the number people you will encounter drops significantly.
General Notes:
From the parking area near the lodge, cross over the road and find the signed trailhead for the John Muir Trail.  What follows for the next 5 miles is a pleasant journey  along the JMT as it meanders it's way up Lyell Canyon, along the river which is never too far from you on your left.  At the junction for Vogelsang HSC just near the base of Potter Point, the trail quickly changes from a casual stroll to a truly strenuous climb of almost 2000' in the next 4-5 miles.  It is a rigorous hike, and frequent breaks to catch your breath in the high altitude and some water are highly recommended.  Two miles after the climb begins there is a tempting side journey to Ireland Lake, but unless you are going to spend the night there, that will add another two miles to the day's long trek.
Another mile further you will pass along the shores of Evelyn Lake, and then begin to drop slightly back down to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp at just a little over 11 miles from the start, at the elevation of 10,300 feet.   This is a very strenuous hike, and we were the only ones in camp who had attempted to attain Vogelsang camp via this method as opposed to coming up the Rafferty Creek trail, which is much shorter.

At the John Muir Trailhead near Tuolumne Lodge.  The mileage to Vogelsang here is about 5 miles shorter than the path we took up Lyell Canyon. Starting point
Crossing the river just past the trailhead, and saying goodbye to most of the only people we saw along the way.
Early views
Starting up the Lyell Canyon is where the topography really opens up into a wide, glacially-carved valley.  Looking ahead
These pack mule trains are the primary method for getting supplies to and from the High Sierra Camps during the summer months.  It's wise to give them a wide berth along the way. Resupply train
For the five miles hiked through the Lyell Canyon, there is very little elevation gain, and lots of water.  Even in this drought year.  It is a good idea to stay hydrated and carbo-load in preparation for what lies ahead.
Further up the valley 
Potter Point is an impressive peak jutting out above the trail, which the path to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp splits just in front of.   However, it does feel like you are climbing this peak (and more) on the second half of this trail. Potter Point 
Extremely necessary, and very welcome are short rests as the trail begins to gain significant elevation after leaving the long stretch of Lyell Canyon far below.
Lots of breaks
The advantage of constant climbing is that the views open up tremendously.  Across the valley to our east are Ragged Peak, White Mountain, and Gaylor and Tioga Peaks in the distance. Mountains to the east 
And the views got even better and further as we made our way up to the elevation (but still a mile from) Ireland Lake.   More views
Finally we got high enough to see Mt. Conness and the range which separated us from the 20 lakes basin to the east. Mt. Conness
Finally reaching Evelyn Lake, the majority of the climb for the day was over and it was just another mile and a half to camp. Evelyn Lake
Past Evelyn Lake the trail stayed mostly level, heading toward Fletcher Peak, which the Vogelsang HSC is situated at the base of.   Fletcher Peak
Below Fletcher Peak was the welcome sight of tent cabins at the Vogelsang HSC.  After checking in we went out and found a good campsite to set up and finally rest after a very long, strenuous hike up from Tuolumne Meadows. Finally to camp
From our campsite we could plan our route up to the top of Vogelsang Peak (on the left,) which was to be our destination for the hike the next day. Vogelsang Peak 
This sunset from camp was our reward for the hard work put in on the day.  As was the fantastic meal of salmon we had at the camp that night. Sunset Dinner
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike