Twenty Lakes Basin

Bridgeport, California

Twenty Lakes Basin

Twenty Lakes Basin Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This splendid balloon trip from Saddlebag Lake to Lake Helen and back passes more than one lake per mile, plus a number of ponds, and in doing so offers you some of the Sierra’s finest subalpine scenery along an easy grade. With the high and low elevations only about 400 feet apart, there are no significant ascents and descents.

Still, at over 10,000 feet, you will notice the rarefied air if you try to hurry along. Note that you can cut 3.1 miles off this loop by taking the ferry across Saddlebag Lake—just show up early to get your reservation on busy summer days."

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pittsburgh, PA
Pathfinder | 70 pts
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We crammed just a portion of this trail into the end of a long day: took the boat across the lake to the trailhead and walked to Steelhead lake: great scenery, wonderful flowers, rushing water and patches of snow. Since we missed the last boat back we walked along the eastern side of Saddlebag Lake and enjoyed new views to the south and west. Mosquitoes were definitely fierce (but adequately discouraged by DEET) and other hikers said were much worse further in.
Hidden Valley, NV
Explorer | 51 pts
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Beautiful area, but at the time of this posting 8/02/05, there were so many mosquitos we opted to cut our stay a day early. This year has seen an intense population due to the major amounts of snow recieved this winter. I recommend face nets. Also, contrary to the published trail guides you cannot get your wilderness permit at saddlebag lake. You must get this at the Mono Basin Ranger Station just north of Lee Vining (there is no quota at this time).
Bakersfield, CA
Pathfinder | 80 pts
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Awsome views good fishing and a fairly easy hike for begining backpackers. Although most people were doing the hike in a few hours with nap sacs. We went in with full back packs and stayed overnight. It took about 2hours to get to the half way mark just below Shamrock lake. There we set camp and went fishing for dinner. My dad is 64 and he made it pretty well and I say he is not in the best of shape.I recomend this trail to someone that wants to learn about what its like to pack pack. At 10,500' just at the timber lineyou get a feel of the high Seirra close to the parking lot.
Gladstone, OR
Adventurer | 230 pts
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The Saddlebag Lake area isn't spectacular but the rest of area is terrific. In mid July we encountered quite a bit of snow down to Lake Helen. Because of the snow we did not complete the loop towards Shamrock Lake. Great scenery. It was one of my favorite dayhikes while camping at Tuolomne Meadows.

More Twenty Lakes Basin Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking The Sierra Nevada (Falcon Guides)
Barry Parr
"This alpine basin studded with lakes and ringed by spectacular mountains should appeal to hikers seeking exceptional scenery without the stiff elevation gains required of most lakes in northern Yosemite. Even small children can enjoy a short segment of the route as far as Greenstone Lake, especially with the boat taxi ride across dazzling Saddlebag Lake." Read more
"This is the ultimate location hike, for every step of the route is beautiful. You pass seven named lakes and many more unnamed tarns. The steep northern faces of Mount Conness and North Peak are visible much of the way, and flowers are abundant throughout. This makes it a good walk with young kids because you will have had a stunning walk even if you don’t complete the circuit." Read more

Trail Information

Nearby City
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
950 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
3-6 hours
Additional Use
Views, Wild Flowers
Yosemite National Park
Local Contacts
Tom Harrison Yosemite High Country map (1:63,360 scale), the National Geographic Trails Illustrated #308 Yosemite NE map (1:40,000 scale), and the USGS 7.5-minute series Tioga Pass map (1:24,000 scale).
Local Maps

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