DISTANCE
34.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,337 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

backpacking
10 months ago

My wife and I just did this hike over the labor day weekend 2017. We parked and started hiking from the Dog Lake parking area though. Plenty of bear boxes at that car park too. We did this the opposite way than what this review spells out. And in my opinion, going up Rafferty Creek and down into the Lyell Fork is the way to go. The first 3/4 of a mile or so up Rafferty is the only section that involves any real climbing. Beyond that, it is the nicest gradual ascending trail I've been on in a while. Literally almost flat. And from what I had read about going up out of the Lyell Fork prior, was absolutely correct. That route is steep, for a long ways!!! Was glad we were going down that, not up. So the hike up Rafferty Creek was right at 7 miles to the backpackers campground at Vogelsang. It took us 5 hours but we were in no hurry. The scenery doesn't really unfold until you can start to see Fletcher and Vogelsang peaks. Once you get to Tuolumne pass, you are within a mile of the High Sierra camp. We lucked out with a cloudy hiking day, so that was a bonus. We camped out for 2 nights and did day hikes around the area. Up to Vogelsang Pass one day and up to Townsley lake the next. We were going to spend one more night, but smoke from the fires down by Glacier point changed direction, and changed our plans too. We left in the middle of the afternoon for the PCT along the Lyell Fork. A little disappointed, but we had done all we wanted to do anyway, and had 2 really nice days up there. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the scenery along the stretch from Vogelsang down to the Lyell Fork due to all the smoke. Oh well. We set up camp that evening right before it got dark at the junction of the PCT and the trail to Vogelsang. Pretty tired after an unexpected 6.3 mile hike. And we had already hiked over 4 miles earlier that day up by Townsley Lake. Hiked out the next morning back to Tuolumne meadow a day early but no regrets. This is a great loop, and a fairly easy one going the direction we did. One cool surprise we weren't expecting, was that you can see Half Dome from the trail up to Vogelsang Pass, right before Vogelsang lake. Clouds Rest is visible to the right too. Pretty awesome!! If you haven't been up here, put it on the list!!