Side Trips from High Sierra Camps

Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp to Waterwheel Falls -- This walk is long and arduous but takes you to six major waterfalls along the Tuolumne River. You'll climb about 1,000 feet along open ledges on the river. There's a lot to see, so get an early start. The trail switches along the noisy Tuolumne, plunges into a forest, and meanders across a meadow. The most notable waterfalls begin about 1.5 miles into the hike and range from long ribbons to 50-foot-long, 20-foot-wide masses of white water. The trail descends through a canyon. Watch for signs to Glen Aulin (about 3 1/2 miles away). You'll see LeConte Fall on your left beyond a few campsites. It cascades in broad, thin sheets of water, some stretching 30 feet wide as they flow down steeply sloping ledges along the river. A half-mile past LeConte is the top of Waterwheel Falls, a set of long, narrow falls that roar through a trough in the ledge to the left of the trail. With enough water and force, some of the water hits the ledge rock with sufficient force to propel it upward and back in a circle, like a pinwheel. Backward water wheels are rare and should not be confused with the upward- and forward-spinning water wheel of LeConte Fall. You can climb down to and back from Waterwheel Falls -- it'll add a steep 0.3 miles to your trip -- before returning to Glen Aulin.

7.6 miles/8 hr. Strenuous (but worth it). Cross Conness Creek; the trail head is on your left about 30 ft. ahead.

Sunrise High Sierra Camp to Upper Cathedral Lake -- Views of the stunning Cathedral Peak are the highlight of this hike. Descend the stone steps to the John Muir Trail along the north side of a meadow. The trail skirts the meadow and crosses several small creeks. Stick to the John Muir Trail, which will bring you to a branch of Cathedral Fork, which has a riverbed lined with rust-colored rocks. After 2 miles, the trail falls away from the creek and toward Columbia Finger, climbing a rocky slope that quickly levels off. You'll see a variety of peaks along the way, and toward the end, when Cathedral Peak comes into view, you'll be surrounded by 2-mile-high pinnacles that somehow escaped the prehistoric glaciers. The trail descends through a meadow, then on to Upper Cathedral Lake. The trek back to camp offers stunning views from the reverse perspective.

10 miles/6-8 hr. Moderate to strenuous. The hike begins next to the dining tent.

Vogelsang High Sierra Camp to Vogelsang Pass -- This hike offers broad views of an assortment of peaks. Turn left from the trail where it crosses the creek (just past the intersection of the pass trail and the camp trail), walk 50 feet upstream, and cross the creek. You'll find nothing but spectacular views. The two towers of Vogelsang Peak lie before you, stretched apart like some enormous saddle, along with views of Vogelsang Lake. The rough slopes of Vogelsang Pass are straight ahead; a 50-foot-wide pond surrounded by pinkish granite marks the top of the pass. Cross to the north side for one of the most spectacular views in the High Sierra. Walk a few feet more, to the point where the trail begins to descend toward Lewis Creek, and a magnificent panorama will greet you: 12,080-foot Parson's Peak; 12,503-foot Simmons Peak; 12,960-foot Mount Maclure; the wide 12,561-foot Mount Florence; the summits of Clark Range, Triple Divide, and Merced peaks; the aptly named Red and Gray peaks; and Mount Clark. Look down and you'll see the blue-green Bernice Lake.

3 miles/2-3 hr. Moderate to strenuous. The walk begins on the west side of the dining tent and descends to Fletcher Creek.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.