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Backpack the Yosemite Sierra High Camps Loop

October 3, 11:00 am - October 8, 5:00 pm

Backpack the Yosemite Sierra High Camps Loop

We have 6 permits for the beautiful Yosemite Sierra High Camps loop in early October! While the High Camps are not operating this year, we can still visit them & camp there. We will begin at Glen Aulin trailhead and do the full 49-mile loop counterclockwise in 6days/5nights, finishing back at our cars.

This is a moderate intermediate-level backpacking trip. Bear canisters are required. Early October weather in Yosemite will likely be fine, clear, and a bit nippy, highs in the 50s, lows in the mid 20s.

Each day will generally include a moderate-paced 6-8hour backpack to the next camp, plus a cool optional dayhike. Backpacking portions are on well-established, if sometimes rocky and steep, trails. Some optional dayhikes are off trail up to class 2. Hiking time estimates in the itinerary below use the common formula: 2mph + 1hr per 1000ft gain, which seems to work well in practice for moderate on-trail backpacking trips.


Sat 10/3 Trailhead to Glen Aulin

Meet at Lyell Canyon trailhead on Tioga Pass Road around midday (TBD), park cars. Place all excess bear attractants — food, trash, toiletries — in trailhead bear lockers: this is REQUIRED in Yosemite. Cross Tioga Pass Road to Glen Aulin trailhead and backpack to Glen Aulin High Camp.
Optional dayhike up Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne to California Falls, LeConte Falls, Waterwheel Falls. (Flow may be low in October.)
Camp at Glen Aulin High Camp backpacker’s camp.

Backpacking miles: 6mi, +400ft -1100ft, approx 3.5hr.
Optional dayhiking miles: 7.5mi RT, +1000ft, approx 4.5hr.

Sun 10/4 Glen Aulin to May Lake

Backpack Glen Aulin to May Lake High Camp.
In pm, optional dayhike up Mt Hoffman, with gorgeous views.
Camp at May Lake High Camp backpacker’s camp.

Backpacking miles: 8mi, +2250ft -750ft, approx 6hr.
Optional dayhiking miles: about 4mi RT +2000ft, on use trails, class 2.

Mon 10/5 May Lake to Sunrise

Backpack May Lake to Sunrise Lakes, crossing Tioga Pass Road.
Optional dayhike to Cloud’s Rest viewpoint, which famously includes walking a narrow 1/2 mile-long arete with steep dropoffs.
Camp at Sunrise Lakes (not Sunrise High Camp, which is further).

Backpacking miles: 6mi, +/-1900ft, approx 5hr.
Dayhiking miles: 3.5mi 1way from Sunrise Lakes trail junction +1300ft -800ft, approx 5hr.

Tue 10/6 Sunrise to Merced

Backpack Sunrise Lakes to Merced Lake High Camp.
Camp at Merced Lake High Camp backpacker’s camp.

Backpacking miles: 10mi, +1000ft -3000ft, approx 6hr.
No optional dayhike today, we can relax & enjoy!

Wed 10/7 Merced to Vogelsang

Backpack Merced to Vogelsang High Camp via Vogelsang Pass (longer, steeper, but more scenic than the alternate Fletcher Creek route).
Optional dayhike up Vogelsang Peak. I am not sure how difficult this peak is, but we can take a look. It is said to be class 2.
Camp at Vogelsang High Camp backpacker’s camp.

Backpacking miles: 8mi, +3700ft -800ft, approx 8hr.
Dayhiking miles: 0.8mi 1way class 2 from Vogelsang Pass, plus 1.25mi 1way on trail from Vogelsang High Camp.

Thu 10/8 Vogelsang to trailhead

Backpack Vogelsang to Lyell Canyon trailhead via Lyell Canyon (longer but more scenic than the alternate Rafferty Creek route), mostly downhill.
Depart for home.

Backpacking miles: 13mi +800ft -2300ft, approx 7hr.

So that’s the basic itinerary! I will post more information on logistics in the comments section. Thanks!


October 3, 11:00 am
October 8, 5:00 pm
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