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A second trip to this wonderful place is in store with the family. Went with the Fresno Fly Fishers for Conservation and this hike to long lake was awesome. Highly recommend for all ages.

hiking
9 days ago

I wanted to write a review to explain a few things about the hike to Minaret Lakes.

My buddy and I are in our early 50s. We're both sporting pot bellies but still in good shape. So, no, we're not 20 years old. The important thing to remember is that we live close to sea level in Southern California.

We made it to Mineret Lakes, but we certainly struggled. The main issue is that we overpacked for this trip. My pack was around 50 lbs. Originally, we were talking about staying for days. The plans changed after we arrived. The ranger station is 7560 feet and Minaret Lakes is 9800 feet in elevation. The major issue we had was that we weren't aclimated to the elevation. The last two miles of the hike has a lot of switchbacks. The last mile in particular had no shade so you're exposed to the sun. And, in our case, we suffered due to the high altitudes. I found that the air was very arid and I needed water fairly often.

So, we had the perfect trifecta of bad. We were not used to the high altittudes, we carried too much weight, and we weren't really in shape fthe way we needed to be for this trip. There was also a fire close by that ate into our oxgyn supply. We strugled but we did it! And to be fair, we did run into a guy who was 80 years old who was on the trail, but he had help carrying his gear.

What I learned from this trip would be to keep my backpack without water at around 20 pounds. You have to have a bear can, you can find light ones. I wouldn't even bring a stove if I were to do this again, and just rely on cold foods. We got on the trail at 9:00AM. i would start at 8:00AM. I didn't have poles, they certainly do help.

If you plan to spend a couple of days fishing then perhaps you should extend your stay. I found that this is a good overnight trip. Beause of this you can pack lighter. You also have to keep in mind that there isn't a lot of shade at Minerte Lakes. So, if you plan on staying a day it very well may be in broad sunlight.

If i were to fish the lakes I woiuld leave by 8:00AM and arrive before 3 and spend a few hours fishing. Wake up the next morning, take pictures (it's breathtaking first thing in the morning) fish for a few more hours and head back home. The fish are swelling at first light.

Mineret Lakes is stunnning. It's a gerat place for fishing, and photography. The trail up is wonderful as well. Plan on having lunch at Mineret Falls. This is reated as intermediate, which seems accurate. However, from the Devils Post Pile ranger station to the lakes the rangers tell me that it's 8 miles.

Overall, this is a great hike. I learned a lot about what not to do from t his hike and despite struggling I did love this hike! There are rental showers within close driving distance. We managed to hike down the mountain, used the bathrooms, showered, went out to dinner in Bishop and slept our own beds before midnight (O.C. area) all within the same day. We did this entire trip over a three day weekend. We also showed up at the ranger station on Friday and got our free passes instead of applying online. After Labor Day, it's easier to get the passes.

hiking
10 days ago

Ok. Let's start the list

1. 6.5 hours for 12.41 miles on a artificial knee celebrating my 62 birthday
2. It is a moderate trail, only hard for those not accustomed to long treks or wearing the wrong shoes
3. Get there early if you want any decent parking spot. We arrived before 7am and still had to park up the hill.
4. Parking at the marina is only for 4 hours
5. It is dog friendly - we passed a few dozen dogs today. Be sure your fur friend is use to rocks
6. Aloha Lake is very low but the lower end is still holding water. The low water exposes a lot of rock formations which adds to the value
7. We had animal encounters - one small black bear - one mini bear (aka chipmunk) who felt he was obliged to check out our pack, our pants, our shirts, anywhere to find food
8. Take water - We took 4 quarts and used it all for 2 people
9. The trailhead starts at Echo Lake dam where the check-in point is
10. It is difficult to find the place to begin with so check you maps well

Now this really is the tale of 3 trails
1. The lower section travels along Echo Lake and Upper Echo Lake. It is mostly in trees. Mostly sand and small rock. Changes elevation very little as it follows along the shores. You will also walk behind a number of cabins which are interesting in the fact they are built there to begin with. The lakes are beautiful and offer different views depending on the sun and time of day
2. The climb - This middle section of the trail is rock, rock, and more rock. The rock is jagged in many areas which will bruise your feet if you not wearing good shoes. The climb is standard 2-3% forestry grade and not hard. Just a lot of rock. It is open but has a lot of interesting cedar tree formations growing in crevices. Just as you start the ascent up to the pass, you get the best views of Echo Lakes by far.
3. The top - fairly easy walk thru trees as you top out of the pass and start a slight descent into the Aloha basin. The rock is glacial and definitely different from the ascent. Trees are massive. We are puny in comparison. Once you arrive at Aloha, trails go every which direction, just stay to the right. The lake is low now so you need to go another few hundred yards down the shoreline to find open water. Majestic and grand views in all directions.

Enjoy.

The name is not an exaggeration, so many lakes! I only saw about 7 people past Saddlebag Lake so the solitude was great. If I had more time it would've been enjoyable to fish some of those lakes.

backpacking
13 days ago

My first backpacking trip in 30 years and this was a great one - not too hard or too easy - and camping at Lake Aloha was wonderful.
The lake was quite low this time of year so would like to go back in June next year. The echo lake shuttle boat was not operational so we didn’t have the option to cut a few miles off to get back. Not that my daughter would have let me!
My favorite part of the hike was the forest after the switchbacks and also a little outing up the ridge to the west side of the lake.
I’m an older hiker and had planned to use a trekking pole but sadly it broke before I could use it and it wasn’t necessary for me even though there were some quite rocky parts.
Love this hike and will definitely do it again.

hiking
14 days ago

Nice day hike. At this temperature (low in the 40’s at Trapper Springs campground) at end of Aug, NO MORE MOSQUITOES :)...and no water in any of the stream beds.
Beautiful destination. Only 2 groups staying at the lake the Friday before Labor Day weekend.
I’m going back with my 13 yr-old and dog for an overnighter before it snows.

backpacking
14 days ago

We did a three day/two night trip over Labor Day weekend, 9/1/18 - 9/3/18 with a dog. The drive up was slightly rough (the roughest was right at the beginning of the 2 mile dirt road) but not bad and we made it just fine in a small sedan. We started at Saddlebag Lake, taking the trail on the east side of the lake. We chose this trail after reading reviews on here stating that it is longer but easier on dog's feet and more shaded. I would agree with this, even after only taking this trail, and would recommend this side to anyone with a dog. As others have said, there is no boat running to get across this lake.

We got a free permit (required to camp) for Steelhead Lake. There wasn't much camping around this lake but we took the little trail off to the left to Towser Lake (very close to Steelhead) and camped there. Awesome spot to camp! It was a popular spot but there is a lot of area to spread out and be away from others.

The next day, we did the Twenty Lakes Basin loop, going clockwise. This was not a very tough hike but very rocky, we had doggie booties but Osker blew out two of them on the trail. We completed the trail fine, but we were worried that he was going to have pad issues; luckily he did not. The trail itself was ok, nothing too special; a lot of the lakes were not easily accessible, but were pretty scenic. Also, the trail is not well marked when doing this loop clockwise. Right after passing Lake Helen, keep your eyes out for the signpost to continue on the trail. It is across a small water crossing and down hill a little ways. It could easily be missed if not paying attention.

Overall, I would highly recommend hiking out to Towser Lake and camping there but would only recommend hiking the Twenty Lakes Basin loop trail to those that are looking to get some miles in with some good (but not great) views. Also, make sure to have doggie booties if you're doing the loop trail!

Loved it. Nice easy day trip or overnight.

backpacking
15 days ago

We went in early June. The meadows were green and the lakes were gorgeous. There are plenty of good camping spots around the lakes. The hike cuts through various types of alpine scenery and is capped off by a killer view of New Army Pass.

Beautiful hike with different degrees of difficulty along the way. I’d rate it somewhere between moderate to strenuous due to its distance round trip. Some parts of the trail along the Echo Lakes were gently sloping with packed dirt and rock. Past that the trail got steeper with only rocks underfoot. As you approach Lake Aloha the trail flattens and gets easier on the legs. The stark beauty of Desolation Wilderness opens up before you as the final destination approaches. There were a few dry shallow lakes along the way but Lake Aloha still had significant water as of Labor Day weekend. Our dog definitely felt beat after the 12 mile hike. Highly recommend booties for your canine buddies to protect against the sharp rocks.

We did this trail on 9/2, as a group of 10 folks of varying fitness and ages. We also had a 15 month old puppy. I had read this page thoroughly, so I was prepared.

- Get AllTrails Pro, the trails are not marked. This saved us.
- For the puppy, we got booties and they kept coming off. Thanks to the kindness of strangers who were returning after backpacking, we had a pack of self adhesive tape that they used for their dog. This was a life saver.
- 4 out of the 8 miles is on scree and talus. I was afraid for the puppy, she did fine, but for one small cut in her paws, the booties helped. You have to watch each step you take.
- From the top of saddlebag lake, I highly recommend doing it the counter clockwise (see my track upload). The climb down to Lake Helen is hard and I was glad I was going down in that scree and not up. Further, you hike towards North Peak when you go counter clockwise and it is stunning.
- Yes, there is not much elevation gain, so our group was able to do it comfortably, but it did take us nearly 7 hours (4:30 moving), between the scree, the puppy and the elevation of this area (10,200 feet+).
- The views are astonishing. The teenagers in our group was awestruck. "Bob Ross painting in each turn" - one exclaimed.
- It is more or less completely exposed, so be prepared.
- We had plenty of company during labor day long weekend, but we didn't mind it. If we were a noisy bunch and ruined your day, we are sorry. We had 5 teens in the group :).

Highly recommend this trail. Highly recommend AllTrails pro.

hiking
16 days ago

09-02-18: Overall this is a very nice hiking trail. The trail through Echo lakes is easy to traverse with a nice view, if you don’t mind see cabins all along the shoreline. Past Echo Lakes, the trail becomes more harsh and quite rocky for some distance until getting closer to Lake aloha where the trail smoothes out through the forest. Unfortunately at this time of year, the waters around Aloha were very low or completely dried up. Better to go earlier in the season. I recommend that dogs wear booties and some of the trail may prove difficult for smaller breeds.

I loved this hike so much. Not difficult at all, absolutely beautiful, bring a picnic and hang out! However, I would call this heavily trafficked, not moderately. I went on a Sunday and parking was a nightmare. Definitely go early.

hiking
17 days ago

The trail is definitely not a “Hard” trail. It’s rocky but no elevation really. We hiked almost 6 miles back and couldn’t find Lake Aloha but we found plenty of other lakes and island. Definitely pretty view but if your the type of people who like your heart rate up for a strenuous hike this isn’t it. Mostly flat rocky trails. There is a lot of loose rock too so make sure your balanced and stable.

We did this hike on 8/30. We were excited based on the description and reviews. It is a great trail with amazing views. But we realized we didn't do enough homework before heading out. Here are my Cons and Pros

Cons
1. The water taxi (as someone mentions from July below) is not running. We have an old dog and a child and the extra miles and exposure weren't great.

2. Although dogs are allowed, the surface of the trail was tough on our dogs paws. It has taken him 3 days to recover from the experience.

3. You are exposed for 98% of the trail. We applied sun screen before we headed out, but you will need to reapply. Wearing a hat and pants and long sleeved shirt recommend. Also, bring more water than you thing you will need.

Pros
1. It is an easy hike - this is true as there isn't a lot of elevation change but I would rate it as moderate with the water taxi not running, the trail surfaces, exposure, etc. But it is doable.

2. There were just a few people on the trail.

3. The views.

hiking
19 days ago

relaxing easy trail to lake aloha. water level is a little low but was still pretty easy to find a secluded spot to hangout. trail was very busy. I took the dogs with me and it wore them out pretty quickly. I wouldn't recommend taking dogs with you on a clear day. not much shade for a majority of the trail and their paws got pretty beat up on the Rocky parts.

hiking
20 days ago

Did this as a day hike in about 10 hours. I was hurtin pretty bad for the last few miles but it was so worth it. Saw a bear and about 6 deer. Bring a head net for the bugs or you will be sorry. I would love to come back and camp at low or middle paradise valley. My favorite part was the view down the canyon looking at the Sphinx. What a beautiful and amazing trail. This was an experience I’ll never forget.

Fun trip off the beaten path. The paths are dried creek beds from snow runoff. I was breathing heavy at 10,000 ft but the backpack trip wasnt as hard as something like Half Dome in the same area. We left Saddlebag and went counterclock wise from the old boarded up resort.

Hummingbird-Nothing
Odell-nothing
Helen-2 Brook, 1 Brown
Shamrock (campsite day 2) - 2 Brook
Steelhead- 4 Brooks
Small Lake above Steelhead-2 Brook
Secret - little Brooks no bites
Sadlebag-nothing(not much time spent)

Found multiple ponds, If Tadpoles and frogs are presnt no fish.

4 people, 2 Fly poles with wet flys on big lakes, dry on little ones.
2 powerbait poles, also used local grasshoppers

Start the loop via the right fork - many people get lost going the other way due to the way the trail is marked. Very exposed, bring good sun protection. Overall not a strenuous hike at all, but the elevation can take some getting used to.

Hiked 8/23/18. Clear skies, around 75 degress with a wind. Absolutely beautiful trail hike. A five star rating, rightfully so. All the reviews were spot on...(thank you hikers for taking the time to leave a comment, very helpful!) We walked left of Saddlebag Lake (clockwise) then went counterclockwise taking the loop past Hummingbird, Odell, Lake Helen...etc. Highly recommend hiking shoes/boots due to the terrain. Walking on scree and gravel most of the time. Only a little shade at the top of Saddlebag then pretty much in full sun. Aside from a couple spots I would say account for the moderate rating a very doable hike and worth every step. We saw an eagle fly over us, a majestic sight all its own. Lots of water and don't forget your sunscreen. Plenty of parking, no permit required for day hike, the 2 miles of road to get to Saddlebag parking is mostly gravel maneuvering around potholes.

backpacking
29 days ago

Great place to backpack for the first time. Definitely worth the effort to make it up to a beautiful lake. Our trail was about 8 miles there and 8 miles back. The lake was clear enough for you to see the bottom and was pure enough for you to even drink (we filtered our water.) Must come with family and friends and bring a chair for star gazing. We decided to take the water taxi back to enjoy the lake and view. It was 14 dollars and person and you can either pay with cash or card when you get back to the main dock.

backpacking
1 month ago

Completed the Cottonwood Loop yesterday (8-17-18). The Old Army Pass was a bit scary. Coming down New Army Pass was in much better condition. Breathtaking scenery! The weather was good. Did have some rain, which made the trip even more enjoyable. This trail is a must and will definitely expand our trip in to the Sequoia National Forest on our next trip!

Simply fantastic! One of the best all around bang for your buck hikes I’ve ever done. Very enjoyable walk (fit hikers won’t get their heart rate up even once on this) with nonstop views that change around every corner. Did this on a Friday and saw very few people. Wear sunblock, there is not much shade.

hiking
1 month ago

Wonderful hike that hugs Echo Lake and then ascends to Lake Aloha, which is big and offers many islands to swim to. At the end of summer, I was still able to see snow on the surrounding mountains, and the reflection of the trees and clouds on the crystal clear water was beautiful. Much of the hike is on rocks, so wear sturdy shoes.

walking
1 month ago

So beautiful. I got to go back! Got here too late.

hiking
1 month ago

Took the water taxi, so 12 km of hiking on rocky paths from the Upper Echo Lake to the Lake Aloha.
Beautiful Lake Aloha but water level very slow, so didn’t get into the water.
Lake the Woods is awesome and better for swimming for today.

Difficult when hiking up from Lake the Woods back to the Pacific Crest Trail towards Echo Lake, high altitude causing low oxygen, this part will take a longer and certain persons may feel bad (as I did).

Be aware: 50 cents for the public phone for the return boat call.

This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful hikes in the eastern Sierras where you are treated with spectacular views at every turn. The alpine lakes and mountain views are breathtaking. The trail can be difficult and hard to find at times due to the fact that you are often walking over shale rock. I would not rate this trail as moderate for the average hiker but it is so well worth it!

Truly gorgeous with lots of people but enough cool spots to get some alone time if like me you were looking for that. I spent a night at Tamarack Lake midway between the trailhead at Echo Lake and Aloha because I couldn’t get a permit to camp at Aloha on my first night. It was kind of nice that it forced me to go slower and appreciate another lake in the area. But you could easily spend a few days near Aloha. Next time I’ll do Aloha on night 1 and go on to one of the other lakes further up the PCT from there for night 2. I’m no thru hiker and that’s good because I don’t feel compelled to blow through 30 miles of beauty in one day.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is beautiful and thankfully, outside of being hazy for photos, the smoke was barely noticeable. Definitely plan for a long day hike... what slows you down is the constant rocky terrain. Most of the trail consists of walking on rocks. Bring proper shoes. A lot of exposed area so bring the sunblock. The wildflowers are everywhere and the lakes are stunning! Lake Aloha was a great lunch spot, but pretty windy and made it too chilly for a swim. Got in at Lake of the Woods it was perfect!

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