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[Yosemite]

Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby Justin-T » Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:21 pm

AlmostThere wrote:If you are within a mile of a HSC you are expected to camp in the designated backpacker camp area.

That's something I didn't know (and it doesn't seem to be mentioned on the wilderness regs on the nps.gov page?), so it would be good to hear other people's recommendations for good spots to camp either before or after each of the HSCs. I'll be doing the standard loop in late July (25-31) with my 17yr old son, and we're planning to avoid the backpackers campgrounds associated with the HSCs. Last summer we hiked from Tenaya to Happy Isles and we're planning to reuse a spot we found near the middle Sunrise Lake, but have no experience of hiking trails near any of the other camps. Anybody got some favorite spots they'd care to share?
Last edited by Justin-T on Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby balzaccom » Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:07 pm

We try to avoid those camps unless we're low on water--then it's lovely to stop in and fill up your bottles from a tap!

Around Vogelsang, we liked camping at Bernice Lake, which is up and over Vogelsang Pass from the HSC. Instead of Merced Lake, we prefer Washburn...and we've also hiked up Conness Creek a couple of miles cross-country to camp up there.

But none of those are exactly "around the corner" from the HSCs. Most are three miles or more away...

Sorry, those may not help if you heading to May Lake!
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Re: Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby Justin-T » Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:43 pm

Thanks for the tips and yes, we'll be heading to May Lake first.

Here's some specific ideas for people to give me their 2 cents on if they wish:

First night near McGee lake.
Second night either at Raisin Lake or somewhere in the wooded area short of May Lake.
Third night we're good, with a spot near the middle Sunrise Lake.
Fourth night, short of Merced there looks to be a likely area shown as Echo Valley, just east of the junction of the trail to LYV, looks flattish with either wooded or more open terrain to choose from. Look to be some creeks nearby also.
Fifth night Bernice Lake looks like it would be great, but would leave us further than I'd like to go on the last day (we want to finish going the Lyell Fork route, not Rafferty Creek), so I'd thought about somewhere between Fletcher and Evelyn Lakes.

Any thoughts on those?
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Re: Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:20 pm

Actually, the area around Tuolumne Pass is lovely. That whole upper valley of Fletcher Creek is beautiful--lots of small tarns:

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Re: Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby Phil » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:45 am

McGee Lake will work well in lieu of the backpacker's camp at Glen Aulin, although there are some nice spots at the camp towards the back, up the hill in the rocks at the camp itself. A little further on, there are some sites up by where you cross Cathedral Creek.

Raisin Lake works well enough.

You got Middle Sunrise, but there are some sites on the far shore of Upper as well.

I'm assuming you're going down the Cathedral Fork of Echo Creek trail. Either hold up short and look for spots after the bridge or push on to Merced and bite the bullet. Echo Valley is dense and stays pretty boggy. The sites you find are going to be desperation sites for people that can't quite make it up to Merced.

The next section depends on whether you're heading up Fletcher Creek or Lewis Creek. Don't underestimate the climb up from Merced Lake. Babcock Lake is nice, but I see that it's not as far as you want to get that day. You can't camp at Boothe Lake, but as Balzaccom says, the tarns along that trial before that are pretty nice and leave you in good position for the last day. With that in mind, I wouldn't bother to burn the energy to go over to Emeric. With that route you'll have about a mile of backtracking to get back up to Vogelsang from Tuolumne Pass, or you can take off cross-country and get back on route that way.

For all intents and purposes, Fletcher Lake is Vogelsang. Fishing is lousy. Between there and Evelyn is a really open and exposed [windy] meadow, so it's not a particularly good area to look at. There's another nameless lake further along to the east where you can tuck into the rocks for a site before you go over that last ridge, but your best bet is to go ahead and head down to the bottom of Ireland Creek (it's only going to be about 8-9 miles from where you camped the night before) and go to your right into the trees right before the PCT and spend the last night there, leaving yourself only about 6 miles of easy trail back to Tuolumne the last day. Ireland Lake is another last night alternative.
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Re: Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby Justin-T » Mon Mar 21, 2016 5:33 pm

Thanks for all the advice.

We were thinking of going the Lewis Creek side, but without a specific reason (or maybe I read about it when I first started planning several months ago...). Any thoughts on Fletcher vs Lewis routes?

For that matter, what about the difference between the last day hiking back to TM via Rafferty vs the longer route past Evelyn Lake? I think I've read elsewhere that the longer route is more scenic, thats why I wanted to go that way, but I'd be interested to hear your views.
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Re: Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby Phil » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:48 pm

Sorry, Justin. I just came across your last post.

Justin-T wrote:We were thinking of going the Lewis Creek side, but without a specific reason (or maybe I read about it when I first started planning several months ago...). Any thoughts on Fletcher vs Lewis routes?


No particular reason. The immediate elevation gain along Fletcher is less though, but it is still a climb. I just happen to like the upper part of the Fletcher Creek trail because it's flatter, and I think, prettier.

Justin-T wrote:For that matter, what about the difference between the last day hiking back to TM via Rafferty vs the longer route past Evelyn Lake? I think I've read elsewhere that the longer route is more scenic, thats why I wanted to go that way, but I'd be interested to hear your views.


Rafferty Creek is okay, but it's what I more or less consider a get down and out trail. This way, you'll also shorten your trip by at least a night. I'm never in a hurry, so I'll usually go Lyell Canyon for the beauty and views. If you don't go this route, you'll have this overwhelming compulsion to come back and see what you missed...and you should.
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Re: Fave spots to camp near (but not at) the HSCs?

Postby Justin-T » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:26 pm

No need for any apology!

I'm hoping we'll feel up to the longer Lyell route on the last day, your comment is consistent with what I've seen elsewhere, clearly a nicer way to end the trip. 11 miles should be OK with most of the food eaten, a net loss of a couple thousand feet, and a shower and hotel bed to look forward to that evening. 8)
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