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High Sierra Loop

Highlights

  • Guides Choice backpacking trip in Yosemite
  • Yosemite's stunning & expansive high country
  • Sections of John Muir & Pacific Crest Trails
  • Portion of the scenic and pristine Tuolumne River
  • Camps near breathtaking rivers & lakes
  • Rejuvenating solitude in the "Range of Light"
  • Good potential to see wildlife

Description

This quintessential Yosemite trek takes us high into the backcountry of the famed Cathedral Range through narrow canyons, stunning alpine meadows and crystal clear mountain lakes. The High Sierra Loop is an adventure into some of the prettiest country in the entire Sierra Nevada Range and highlights the best of Yosemite's high country in just four days!
We will begin our hike from historic Tuolumne Meadows along the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails as they parallel the Tuolumne River through stunning Lyell Canyon. As we climb higher into the mountains, panoramic views of the Cathedral Range are the talk of the day. Mountain lakes appear around every corner as we trek across the granite slopes of John Muir’s High Sierra. Our camps on this trek at Vogelsang and Emeric Lakes are in expansive high altitude meadows and are absolutely beautiful places to read a book, photograph the magnificent scenery, or explore the wide open granite-filled landscape!
Call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more or book a spot today!
Click here to have a detailed PDF information packet emailed to you, or request a reservation today. You can also call us at 800-715-HIKE.

 

Photos of this Trip

Photos: Peter Scott

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

This Yosemite trip begins with rendezvous in Yosemite Valley on the patio of Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) in front of the Yosemite Mountain Shop at 6PM on Day 1. The Mountain shop is located on the street-facing side of the Half Dome Village Pavilion (closest to the parking lot). You will easily spot your guide waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat and shirt. We'll conduct an orientation meeting and enjoy dinner together here at Half Dome Village, after which we'll get settled in the Backpackers Camp a stone's throw away from majestic Tenaya Creek and under the spectacular domes and cliffs of Yosemite Valley.


Day 2

Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Elevation Loss: none


Our hike begins in Yosemite’s world renowned Tuolumne Meadows, among soaring granite domes, jagged mountain peaks, and lush fields of wildflowers, high in the heart of Yosemite’s "Range of Light." From our trailhead we follow the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River into wide Lyell Canyon as the river meanders its way through wide meadows and cascades over glacially smoothed granite shelves. Mammoth Peak and the Kuna Crest dominate the horizon to the east and the lower wooded slopes of the serrated Cathedral Range are closer by to our west. We will take it slow today to acclimate to the thin High Sierra air and hike approximately six miles to the junction with Ireland Creek, a mere 200 feet higher than our trailhead. Here we will make our camp among the gnarled lodgepole pines along the banks of the Tuolumne and enjoy an incredible meal as the brilliant summer constellations and the Milky Way slowly appear above us.


Day 3

Hiking Mileage: 7.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Elevation Loss: 300 feet


After an early wake up call, we eat a hearty breakfast as we prepare for our hike up beautiful Ireland Creek into the high peaks along the crest of the magnificent Cathedral Range, one of Yosemite’s most celebrated regions. But, first we must tackle what could be the most difficult part of our adventure as the trail ascends 2000 feet to the high point of our trip at 10,850 feet in just three miles. After catching our breathes, we descend to an idyllic spot alongside Evelyn Lake and enjoy a filling, well-earned lunch as we enjoy the beauty of the surrounding peaks: Johnson, Rafferty, Fletcher and Parsons, all above 11,000 feet! Our camp tonight will be near Vogelsang Lake at 10,300 feet, two miles further up the trail. There, we will enjoy truly spectacular views, including even looking down on the summit of Half Dome!


Day 4

Hiking Mileage: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: none
Elevation Loss: 1000 feet


Today we will have the opportunity to kick back and relax. We will spend the morning around camp, swimming in the lake, or, perhaps, taking a short hike up to Vogelsang Pass, and if we feel particularly energetic, we can try a summit attempt on Vogelsang Peak at 11,516 ft. After lunch we will head downhill 3.2 miles to the absolutely stunning Emeric Lake. There we will have more opportunities to explore the surrounding area or just relax around camp until supper time. Our appetites stimulated by the high alpine air, we will enjoy our last dinner in the high country as the alpenglow slowly bathes the mountain vastness in ever-deepening shades of pink, purple and rose.


Day 5

Hiking Mileage: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Elevation Loss: 1300 feet


After a steaming cup of coffee and a hot breakfast we will make an early start for the nine mile trek back to Tuolumne Meadows. After an initial three mile ascent to Tuolumne Pass, the rest of our trail today is all downhill! We follow Rafferty Creek, an absolutely beautiful stream, as it rushes through wide-open meadows until it’s junction with the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne in a thick lodgepole forest. And after just a short, level 1.1 mile hike, we exit our adventure back at the Tuolumne Meadows trailhead. With congratulations all around, we can celebrate our successful High Sierra Loop trip with an ice cream cone from the Tuolumne Meadows store and plan next year’s adventure with the Wildland Trekking Company!


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • Transportation logistics to the trailhead and back
  • All meals are included from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Yosemite hiking guide
  • National park backcountry camping permits
  • Bear cannisters for food storage
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear cannisters
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

This trip meets in Yosemite Valley on the patio of Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village) in front of the Yosemite Mountain Shop at 6PM on Day 1. The Mountain Shop is located on the street-facing side of the Half Dome Village Pavilion (closest to the parking lot). You will easily spot your guide waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat and shirt. This trip includes dinner and camping that night at the backpackers camp. Personal vehicles can remain parked at Half Dome Village during your trip.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.


Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's rendezvous time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will be out of the backcountry normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time) on the final day.


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in the Sierras

Being a high mountain environment, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in the mountains. On trips in June, snow is a possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:
 
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
         
 
Month
Valleys
Alpine
 
 
hi
low
hi
low
 
 
January
49°
26°
45°
25°
 
 
February
55°
28°
46°
26°
 
 
March
59°
31°
48°
27°
 
 
April
65°
35°
54°
30°
 
 
May
73°
42°
62°
37°
 
 
June
81°
51°
71°
46°
 
 
July
89°
57°
77°
50°
 
 
August
89°
56°
81°
53°
 
 
September
82°
51°
71°
46°
 
 
October
74°
39°
62°
37°
 
 
November
58°
31°
51°
29°
 
 
December
48°
26°
46°
25°