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Lyell Canyon-Vogelsang Loop

A tramp through the heart of Yosemite's Cathedral Range.
id_1554936
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 20.1 miles
Duration: Multiple days

Overview :  This delightful trip takes you through some of the most accessible and spectacular parts of Yosemite's High Country and its... more »

Tips:  This trip is doable during the summer and early fall, roughly from July through October, with August and early September being the... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Mammoth Mountain and the Lyell Fork

Mammoth Mountain rises over the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, right by the crossing of the Tuolumne River (bridged). Your trail will go right by Mammoth Mountain through Lyell Canyon.

2. JMT/Rafferty Creek Trail Junction

Here, the outbound hiker will want to continue straight (along the John Muir Trail/PCT towards Lyell Canyon), while the return hiker will rejoice at the return to relatively flat ground.

3. Potter Point and Amelia Earhart Peak

Potter Point and Amelia Earhart Peak rise over Lyell Canyon, next to Ireland Creek. You will be heading up the valley along Ireland Creek shortly.

4. Summer Runoff

Snowmelt raises the level of the normally placid Tuolumne River in Lyell Canyon. This viewpoint is shortly before the junction with the Ireland Creek Trail. This particular spot is an excellent place to cool your feet or filter water before the Ireland Creek junction.

5. Ireland Creek Trail Junction.

At the (unobtrusive) sign, leave the PCT/JMT/Lyell Canyon Trail and start heading upwards. There are excellent campsites just around here, right by the creek.

6. A Break in the Trees

An opening in the forest along Ireland Creek. This is a possible campsite -- the first since leaving the Lyell Canyon floor -- but there are better ones up ahead, as you traverse along the side of the ridge. Most of the camping from here until the Ireland Lake Trail Junction has great views but water availability is limited after early summer.

7. Ireland Lake Trail Junction

Ireland Lake Trail Junction. Head south about 2 miles to Ireland Lake, camp here (there are some sites right by the trail), or keep heading up towards the ridge. Numerous nice campsites are just a little bit further on as you traverse the ridgeline; there are seasonal creeks in early summer but nothing permanent. This is the last reliable water... More

8. Tarn 10,425.

Early July finds the tarn surrounded by snow and lush growth. With lush flowers come bugs, which may be slightly better on the southwest side than the north side. The north side has very nice camping, but the lakeshore is boggy (filter water by the outlet stream).

9. Sills.

Note the layers within the granite on the way towards Vogelsang. This is on the descent to Evelyn Lake and is an intriguing look into the geology of the park.

10. Evelyn Lake

Evelyn Lake is big, beautiful, and windswept. Plenty of camping here, but be gentle! (And note the lack of trees to stop the wind, if it's a windy night).

11. Fletcher Peak, Fletcher Lake.

Fletcher Peak rises next to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. From this point on, you're by the High Sierra Camp.

12. Vogelsang Peak.

Vogelsang Peak, just above the High Sierra Camp. You can follow the trail to Vogelsang Lake and climb the peak from there (search Everytrail for useful links).

13. Vogelsang Trail Junction

Head north (down) towards Tuolumne Meadows.

14. Tuolumne Pass.

Tuolumne Pass represents the last bit of climbing from Vogelsang - it's a long gradual downhill from here down to the Tuolumne River.

15. Rafferty Creek Falls

Two creeks merge with a delightful waterfall. From here on, the gradual drop of the trail becomes considerably steeper on the way down towards the Tuolumne River.

16. Lyell Fork

The Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River winds through Lyell Canyon. Donohue Peak rises in the distance. This is an example of the open spaces -- and delightfully flat terrain! -- in Lyell Canyon.

17. Lyell Canyon

The John Muir Trail winds through Lyell Canyon.

18. Moonrise, Fletcher Peak.

An example of the views you can expect descending towards Vogelsang.

19. Sunset, Cathedral Range.

20. Ridgeline.

Near the ridge seperating Rafferty Creek from the Tuolumne River. You are almost at the high point here. The really nice campsites are mostly behind you but the views just keep getting better.

21. Cathedral Range

The eastern Cathedral Range from the ridge line over Lyell Canyon.

22. View from the Ridge.

Looking south from the ridge between Lyell Canyon and Rafferty Creek.

23. Fletcher Peak and Tarn 10,425

A small tarn provides nice campsites near Fletcher Peak. This is the first water since the Ireland Lake Trail Junction; there is good camping on both sides of the tarn, but note that the north (near) shore is fairly boggy in early summer.

24. Western Cathedral Range

25. Tuolumne River.

Wildflowers speckle the banks of the Tuolumne River in Lyell Canyon in early summer.

26. Near Tarn 10,425

Wind limits tree growth near tarn 10,425. You can see how this makes for great camping, however.

27. Wildflowers

Wildflowers carpet the meadows near Tarn 10,425.

28. Corn Lilies

Corn Lilies and wildflowers brighten up the side of the trail along Ireland Creek, making the continuous climb not so bad.