Twenty lakes basin - Hoover Wilderness
Lakes of California #2
When you can drive to an alpine lake and start a day hike from there, you must be in for a treat.
Saddlebag lake in Hoover Wilderness, just outside Yosemite National Park is such a place. The Twenty Lakes Basin loop trail starts at Saddlebag lake and covers some of the prettiest lakes I have seen in the high Sierra.
If you are lucky, there exists a ferry that can take you across Saddlebag lake for a shorter trail. If not, you hike 3 more miles.
I liked doing this hike counter clockwise once you reach the end of Saddlebag lake, since in that direction, you get to see North Peak and Steelhead lake in front of you and you hike towards them for most of the hike.
Lundy Pass is towards the North of this trail, there is an alternate hiking trail to exit Lundy Canyon from this trail as well.
Once you go past Saddelbag lake, you cross Hummingbird lake, Twin lakes, Shamrock lake, Steelhead lake, Wasco lake and Greenstone lake before you loop back to Saddlebag lake.
There are many short side trips you can take to Cascade lake and a few other lakes.
Since the trail is outside Yosemite National Park, dogs are allowed on this trail. However, a good portion of this trail is filled with talus and scree and is very hard on the paws of a dog. We bought little booties for our dog when we hiked with her. The boots kept coming off and trail angles provided us with masking tape that we could use to keep the boots in tact.
The trail only gains a thousand or so feet. Our extended friends and family hiking group slowly lumbered along the trail taking in the stunning views at every twist and turn and enjoying the challenging terrain.
As far as day hikes go, the Twenty Lake Basin trail has to be one of the best bang-for-the-buck hikes.
There is no reservation required to backpack this trail, but you need a wilderness permit and you can obtain a same day walk-in permit at the Mono Lake ranger station as well. I will go back and camp here some day.