Saddlebag Lake Trail is a 4.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Lee Vining, CA that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
This hike is one of those you can choose to make longer or shorter depending on your preferences. I choose to make it a loop. So I hiked along one side of saddlebag lake. The trail here gave me the first of a lot of hiking of talus which would be common later. The trail never gains very much elevation, but there is a lot of ups and downs. Not enough to be a real issue. Please note too, there is a water taxi if you want to save yourself some walking.
There are a lot of fishermen in the area, and if you like to fish, try this lake. I could see a lot of fish in the streams and lakes. Shamrock lake was simply majestic. Helen Lake less so, and to leave this area I had to go through a steep and rocky path, not too bad but you are warned. There are a lot of lakes, all really nice. So check it out
Totally amazing hike. It's a top 10 for sure. But it's not "easy." I would definitely rate this MODERATE. There's some steep parts of the trail & challenging inclines. But truly gorgeous experience!!!!!
I hiked this beautiful area a LONG time ago (while visiting in 1984 as a 14 year old). Shortly after exiting Yosemite NP at Tioga Pass, we made a quick detour up Saddlebag Lake Road. Despite the many years that have passed, I distinctly remember being mesmerized by the surrounding peaks and the fact that a good portion of the surface of the lake was still frozen in July...with lots of snow still around (no drought back then)! I would definitely like to visit this one again someday!
Hiked this gorgeous trail in search of life sightings of the White-tailed Ptarmigan and Grey-crowned Rosy Finch. Ptarmigans proved elusive but got many wonderful views of the finches; females and males hopping on snow fields gleaning insects around the lake. Take the boat ride! Don't waste your time and energy hiking along Saddleback Lake which is bleak and boring. When buying my boat ticket I talked to the friendly and informative marina operator who told me to forget the trail book directions which have you hike in a clock-wise direction but instead hike around the loop counter-clockwise. This proved to be an excellent suggestion.
We had spent a few days at Onion Valley and ended up in Lee Vining to check out Mono Lake and its alienesque tufa. That took us all of an hour with three days left before we returned home. Our campground neighbor suggested Saddlebag Lake so off we went. The views were more stunning than I was expecting and it was a relatively easy trail and only took us a few hours to complete, though it easily could've taken us the entire day to explore if we weren't meeting the water taxi to take us back! Overall it was a lovely hike and my favorite part of our recent camping trip.
This hike turned out to be quite an adventure for us. We hiked the loop starting along the eastern side of the Lake. It was my first opportunity to try out my new telescopic fishing pole with several scenic areas to stop and "wet a hook". The northeastern portion of the Lake is vegetated and offers many chances to view wildlife and photograph this beautiful area. As we passed the ranger lodging along the north side of the lake, we lost the main trail because there are several side trails that lead hikers off the ridge and back towards the Lake. This would not have been a big deal except that a hail storm blew in (Yes, in June), and left us vulnerable along the unvegetated west side of the Lake. We did hunker down behind some boulders and covered our heads with our pack covers. Upon weathering the storm, we finished the hike along the very steep west side. The area is a talus covered slope that still had pockets of snow along the trail. This made traversing the west side more difficult than I imagine it normally is during the summer. We finished the hike along the dam, and I did catch a rainbow trout to finish the adventure. We give this hike 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone, especially the hiker-fisherman type.
Could it get any better? Too much to see for words! Easy, relatively flat with a boat ride back to the car. No. Peak is literally right there in an 1.5 hours. Twice this summer, which isn't enough! This place sure needs some rain, very sad to see. Perhaps next year I'll get back?
MY FAVORITE TRAIL EVER TO DATE!!! I've been hiking for 15 years!
We camped at Mammoth Lakes RV Park and did this hike for our second hike. It took an hour to drive to Saddlebag Lake. We parked and bought a boat ride ticket at the store/restaurant. We got a 10:30am depart (half an hour from when we arrived). It was super fun to ride across the Saddlebag Lake (cutting off boring trail on the side of the lake).
We were told to do the loop counter clockwise so we would be doing the ascent at the start and the descent at the end (6.1 miles - went off trail in a few places). This was fantastic advice because our guide book told us the opposite (clockwise) and that would have sucked. The first lake you encounter on the right is Hummingbird Lake. This is an adorable, small lake. Before you hit the next lake is the 1 mile mark. Odel Lake is magnificent. It is quite long, it had the first patch of snow I'd seen right off the trail. Then you see a peek of Lake Helen, on the way to it a creek runs next to you with gorgeous wildflowers. You proceed on the east side of the lake which is all small rocks (careful). A trail to Lundy Lake goes off NE. I took it through a meadow to a ridge and looked down on Lundy Pass, this is the 2 mile mark. I then headed back to the original trail and over granite slab (easy to lose trail here but will find it again soon). Once you leave the granite slab you come upon Shamrock Lake (3 miles). It is gorgeous and has many "fingers" protruding out from it. I went off trail a bit and ate lunch on some rocks. Then I went over a bit more of a slab, not much and saw Steelhead Lake. A trail to the right heads to Hess' Mine, I started on it but was told it wasn't much, so I just took a picture of a debris field from it and head back. Steelhead is large and long. Some people were cliff jumping from its western shore. Nearby them was a water fall. A bit past was a junction (mile 4) to Secret Lake (future back pack). Then I came upon Wasco Lake, quite small. The last lake was Greenstone Lake, mile 5. There was a trail going along its north side that should have lead to Conness Lakes which I heard is the most beautiful place on earth (future hike). Then a trail going on its south side, also to Conness Lakes. I was told the south side is faster but I think the north side is easier to follow and more popular. I headed back to the boat ramp to see if my parents were there yet. I got there at 2pm. Our reservation back was not until 3:45pm so I thought I might have time to go to the first Conness Lake. I tried the "faster" way on the south side and got stuck in mud flats so I ended up having to go all the way to Saddlebag lake to try to get around the mud flats but by that point I gave up and just hung out at the lake and put my feet in until my parents arrived around 2:45pm. We took at earlier boat back to the car. This is my favorite hike to date (including all of Mammoth trip).
I turned this into a 9 miler by hiking Saddlebag lake in conjunction with the Seven Lakes loop trail. It is a high elevation hike (around 10,000 ft), but with very little elevation change on the route, so it is a great way to acclimate to the altitude. Beautiful lakes, especially the view of Shamrock from the rockslide above it. There is also a wonderful side trail near Lake Helen, that gives views of the Mill Creek waterfall, and vistas down the canyon. A great hike!
We gone to saddlebag 5 times Great hike, kid-and dog friendly . We took the ferry across and hiked the 20 lake basin . Easy beautiful lake after lake . We fished a couple . Pack a lunch . We took the ferry at 9 and took are time and returned at 2 to fish . We took our two small 15 pound dogs . They did great . I've seen a lot of people walking around with small kids . I'm sorry we didn't tack this hike .
LOVE THIS HIKE . I RECOMMEND TAKING THE TRAIL ALL THE WAY BACK TO LUNDY LAKE , ABSOLUTELY STUNNING VIEWS
This is a great hike! From saddlebag you can take a ferry to the other side of the large lake and hike the 4 miles or so around the smaller lakes and do the loop, however there is also the Saddlebag loop around the large lake. Unfortunately for us the ferry was not operating when we just went (last week) so we did the entire hike around Saddlebag plus we hiked up to Steelhead, then back to Saddlebag and around the other side to the car. In total our hike was about 8 miles and took us 6 hrs including breaks and stops. We had our 4 1/2 year old who hiked the whole thing, and our 17 mo old in a back pack. Not a strenuous hike, but the west side of Saddlebag is all lose rocks. Tiring to walk over since it's not solid ground. We didn't hike the entire trail this time because we had our oldest walking with us but Lundy pass is similar to the West side of Saddlebag with the lose rocks only you have to hike uphill (or downhill depending on what direction you are coming from) instead of semi level, and it would have been too much for his little feet. We have only seen this hike in the fall and would love to see it in spring time.