Twenty Lakes Basin

The perfect easy backpacking trip and no trailhead quota.


The Highlight

A number of small lakes and waterfalls below North Peak - and (because the hike in is so easy) having plenty of energy to explore.

North Peak 20 Lakes Basin

Getting There

The downside to this trip, for those of us coming from the South, is the drive. The road to Saddlebag Lake is just outside the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite. After picking up permits at the Lone Pine Ranger Station, my nephew and I headed up to Rock Creek Road and camped below Little Lakes Valley. Staying there worked out well. It meant less driving that first day. Also, it's a pretty flat hike into Little Lakes Valley and the scenery gets good right away. So, after finding a campsite, we headed up to the Little Lakes Valley trailhead and wandered out to the first lake. I'm always cautious about hiking at 10,000' when I started the day at sea level. The next morning we drove up to Lee Vining for breakfast at Nicely's and then continued on to Saddlebag Lake. The hike from Saddlebag Lake to Cascade Lake (one of many possible camping spots in the basin) is maybe 4 miles, and maybe a few hundred feet of elevation gain. The trail is easy to follow. There are few trees. There are pretty obvious landmarks in the mountains to the West. The bottom line is it's straightforward to find your way in and out of here. If you want to make the trip even easier you can take the water taxi across Saddlebag Lake and cut out roughly half the miles.

20 Lakes Basin