Twenty Lakes Basin Loop Trail

MODERATE 122 reviews
#1 of 9 trails in

Twenty Lakes Basin Loop Trail is a 7.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Lee Vining, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 7.8 miles Elevation Gain: 777 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

no shade

A day hike around beautiful lakes in the eastern Sierra, just outside the east entrance to Yosemite on Tioga pass. This alpine basin studded with lakes and ringed by spectacular mountains appeals to hikers seeking exceptional scenery without the stiff elevation gains required of most lakes in northern Yosemite Twenty Lakes Loop is a beautiful hike that starts from the Saddlebag lake (10,000ft) and takes you around some of the most amazing alpine lakes. You get great views of the near by peaks: North Peak and Mt. Conness. This is an easy hike if you are acclimatized to the altitude. You might feel short of breath if you just arrived and started hiking, since the trail head is at 10,000ft. The section of trail between Shamrock Lake and Lake Helen is often covered with snow into late season. Be prepared to climb down a steep rock near the lower crossing of Mill Creek. The hike is about 8 miles but if you take the water taxi across the saddlebag lake, you can cut down a couple of miles, allowing small children to enjoy a short segment of the hike. The Saddlebag Lake Resort boat taxi operates July through early September. Wear sturdy shoes as this is a rocky hike.

hiking
off trail
rocky
8 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

AmaInf beauty, but the rocks make it very hard to get through. A bit disappointed about that, but other than that it’s a a beautiful trail

hiking
muddy
no shade
rocky
28 days ago

I did this hike on 10/13/19. The temperature was just right starting out, but later in the afternoon it got a bit windy and colder. The scenery was spectacular. We did the big loop clockwise starting on the left side of Saddlebag Lake, which was rocky and exposed. On the way back, we went on the other side of the lake, which was covered by trees a good part of the way. There was a section before Lake Helen that got a bit technical and the trail became hard to follow. Thankfully, there were cairns to assist. We also had to carefully navigate a couple of icy patches in that section. Overall, this was a great hike and I am so glad I did it.

This was a very scenic hike! I ended up turning it into one large loop. There are opportunities to extend the hike or maybe explore different terrain. Overall I found it to be a fairly easy and leisurely hike.

hiking
1 month ago

This trail can be longer depending on what way you go and if you get off trail to go around the lakes. The map has you going the shorter way across Saddlebag Lake but that way is just rocky, baron and without shade. I took the other side of the lake which was longer but shaded once you get to a stretch of forests. After that you start the loop I started counter clockwise which is a real rocky and baron trail. The lakes are still nice and once you the round the loop the other side is way better. Every couple minutes you see one after another but it was cold and extremely windy.

hiking
1 month ago

Went off trail to go find snow. Month 47! Trail is great

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

I lost the trial because of a snow pack but it was beautiful

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Their are a few lakes on the back not listed. Cascade and Steelhead. Great fishing. Overall awesome trip. Great for beginners.

hiking
off trail
rocky
snow
3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

Was just there 2 weeks ago. We backpacked in and did 3 days and 2 nights. Weather was gorgeous. A ton of mosquitoes were out so bring Deet and maybe a net for your head. It's also a good idea to wear pants and long sleeves. Fly fishing wasn't as good as last year around the same time but the trout we landed were a little bigger.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful and worth it but be aware the mosquitos were horrible. We veered off a little bit to hike up the waterfall & back down. Bring a net for your head, wear full length clothing with bug spray. I usually don’t get bitten compared to other people but had 11 bites on my face alone.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous hike! We did the full loop on 8/1/2019 and it took us six hours, starting on the right side of Saddlebag Lake and then doing the loop clockwise. IMPORTANT: At the top of the loop, close to Helen Lake, there were two deep and steep snow embankments we had to slide down and one long one we had to hike up. These were a bit treacherous because of the adjacent drop offs with streams and the possibility of sliding over drop offs into the stream and lake. Unless you’re experienced with hiking across snow, I would not recommend this part of the loop right now. The snow melt is unpredictable and is making it very slick and with places to fall through on the sides. Also, as others have mentioned, there are stream crossings where hiking poles are very helpful or necessary if you don’t want to get wet. And there were lots of mosquitos in some parts of the trail, but with bug spray it was fine.

bird watching
bugs
no shade
rocky
snow
3 months ago

Backpacking- permit required (free) We backpacked although honestly I wish we just hiked the first 4 miles. Most scenic up until 4 mile mark- then has to toboggan down 50ft steep snow bank. Then cross steep snow banks that led down to the lake. Overall beautiful first 4 lakes. Bugs aren’t bad if you’re moving. Don’t trust keeping your stuff in the bear lockers at the campground someone stole all our stuff.

hiking
3 months ago

Hobbit World! What a fantastical and whimsical landscape of brooks and lakes, pigmy forests, wrangled trees, and acres of moss... waterfalls delighted us everywhere. Just outside Yosemite Park entrance this level hike struck our fancy. Dinner at Lee Vining Mobil topped off the day! We started the hike at 2:30pm and were back by 5. Living at 6,500 feet and hiking to 9,000+ 3 or more times per week primes our fitness to enjoy this high altitude hike.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

Great trail with some awesome views BUT the mosquitoes are out in full force. Don’t recommend if you don’t wear long pants, long shirt and a bug net. We did it counter clockwise with a dog and two kids (12&10) no issues although very rocky. We started off going right from the parking lot and found the signs and waypoints accurate. **note water taxi is not working. Plan accordingly

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing trail but wow there are a lot of mosquitoes! Maybe it’ll be better in a couple weeks but right now a bug head net is a must.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

One struggles to fully grasp the beauty on display here. Still wet, but snow is mostly off the trail. Amazing day hike

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
snow
4 months ago

Took the eastern side of Saddlebag up to just past the lake and the conditions still just aren't there yet. 80% snow coverage above 10,000 made it challenging and there were a couple of sketchy snowfields. Wouldn't suggest doing this yet unless you're experienced with maneuvering through snow.

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