Mariposa County High Point Trip Report

Date: September 9-11, 2000
Author: Edward Earl

Parsons Peak is a short distance SE of the Mariposa CA county HP. The trip is practically identical to Kings Peak, the UT state HP, in every measurable way. Both have about the same foot travel distance (Parsons is just a hair greater), both have about the same elevation gain (Kings is a hair greater), both involve a fairly lengthy trail hike followed by a class 2 boulder scramble on the upper slopes of the peak, and both have marvelous scenic views of alpine lakes and meadows. Both are either a leisurely 3-day trip or a somewhat more strenuous 2-day trip. We opted for the 3 days in the back-country.

The peak is located in the high country of Yosemite National Park near Tuolomne Meadows. Despite being a week after Labor Day, the season was still active enough that a permit reservation was recommended, which I had arranged a couple of weeks before. For information on wilderness permits in Yosemite, see the Park Service web site at and follow the links to Yosemite.

We picked up our reserved permits early Saturday (9/9) morning at the permit office and headed south up Lyell Canyon. The first half of the trip follows the floor of the canyon past meadows along the Lyell Fork of the Tuolomne River and has very little elevation change (only about 200 feet gain in 5.5 miles). At an appropriately signed junction, we turned right up the Ireland Creek drainage which tops out at the tree line amid alpine meadows at Ireland Lake, where we camped for two nights.

The next day was a leisurely and uneventful summit, with a 4 mile off-trail round trip and 1400' elevation gain. Views from the summit included Half Dome, White Mountain, Mount Dana, and the top 250' to 300' of Mount Lyell. During the long summit siesta, I made the obligatory trip about 800' NW to the Mariposa county HP. At the risk of confusing future visitors using Suttle's book, which says there is no cairn marking the county HP, I built a 16" cairn at a point determined by careful estimates of distance and the appropriate amount of elevation loss shown by my altimeter.

The descent from the summit, second night's camp, and return hike were uneventful.