Established over 120 years ago, Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular and visited parks in the country, and for good reason. With its iconic scenery and mountains, including Half Dome and El Capitan, there are really no other National or State parks like it. Famous naturalist John Muir was instrumental in establishing Yosemite as a National Park, which lead the way for the entire National Park system in the United States.
This 28-mile, two to four-day backpacking trip includes stretches on many different trails in the park. You begin your trek at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor’s Center, then make your way along flat meadows and meandering streams along The Pacific Crest Trail. After a few miles, take the fork to the right and up the ridge to the High Sierra.
Once over the ridge, you will pass many alpine lakes on your way to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Spend a night or two at the Vogelsang Camp if you can. When you first hit the lake, turn left along the northern shore. There are many spectacular campsites overlooking the lake and the mountains, and if you have the time, the day hike up Vogelsang Peak is well worth the effort. Moving on, you will slowly descend toward the valley, alternating between wooded paths and bare granite. There will be campsites scattered along this route. Your most likely place to find a site is at Merced Lake.
The final miles of the trip bring you into Yosemite Valley. The downhill often consists of rocky steps, which can challenge your feet and legs, so take your time and rest often. While you may have only seen a few people each day in the High Sierra, this final section may be extremely crowded with tourists and day hikers visiting the waterfalls and Half Dome.
Once you reach the valley, you will need to take a shuttle back to Tuolumne Meadows. The shuttles run every half hour. Enjoy a final night at the Tuolumne Meadows Campsite to unwind.
Note: You will need a wilderness permit. Permits open six months in advance and fill up quickly, so sign up early. There are no designated campsites or zones, but try to camp in preexisting sites. No campfires in the High Sierra. Also, Tioga Pass is closed during the winter.