Explore the most popular hiking trails near Lee Vining with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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!

Pay at the parking lot. Dirt road driving in but regular car ok. Dogs allowed in on leash. No muzzle needed. Dogs are allowed here and Navy Beach on this dude. Technically they can step in the water but I wouldn't recommend it as they might drink the water which is hella salty. Beautiful formations. Nice stroll out to the formations. Lots of sea bugs.

360° of beautiful scenery.

Beautiful scenery! Great fishing. Very modest hike

Super unique stop right off the 395. I would definitely rate this as easy - very flat and short and you arrive at the shore right away. This is a great place to visit with people of all ages and hiking abilities!

One of my favorite hikes of all time! The name "twenty lakes basin" definitely does it justice as there's at least one lake in sight for most of the hike. I personally did more of a figure 8, going around both sides of saddlebag lake, which I'd recommend to make it even more interesting. If you are used to hiking and living at a high altitude, I would still classify this as easy, but maybe moderate if you're used to sea level. My coworker called it "probably the flattest longer hike in the Eastern Sierra". There was still a bit of snow on the trail as of mid July which made it a little tricky to follow but never too bad. As a bonus, it's just outside of Yosemite, so you get the beauty without the crowds or the entrance fee. Loved it!

walking
12 days ago

Trail is washed out in three places. Road to parking area is no longer accessible due to massive rock slide (at least about the size of a football field) and probably won’t be repaired for a while. It is difficult to find trail through the second and third washouts but there are cairns to guide you but they’re hard to spot, at times. Of course it’s beautiful but it’s just a lot harder to hike.

hiking
13 days ago

Simply spectacular. We used the trail on the far side of Saddlebag lake from what's shown on the map and I think it's got more interesting terrain and flora and is less exposed. Recommend walking the lake loop clockwise from the top of Saddlebag–the second half of the trail has some sections that were still covered in snow in mid July that were much easier to navigate from that direction than the reverse, as well as some climbs up scree that I would not have enjoyed going the opposite way. This trail wouldn't be particularly challenging at lower elevation, but as it's between 10 and 11,000, you may feel any climbs and be a bit worked over by the end if you're not acclimated.

An epic hike! Completed this with two great friends who were kind enough to invite me to join them for a weekend of day hiking. We hiked the Shadow and Ediza Lakes Trail the day before and I'd thought that that was the most scenic hike I'd completed to date. Then we did this hike... and it took #1 for scenery on my list. Both hikes are fantastic. Now I just keep imagining myself living in a small cottage located in any of the alpine meadows we hiked through on the Twenty Lakes Basin Trail. I could live like a Pika (which we were happy to have seen many of along the way).

We hiked this counterclockwise from the parking area for Saddlebag Lake. Confirming what others have pointed out, there are sections of the trail that can be rough on the feet and ankles due to scree (aka shattered stone). The section of trail approaching Shamrock Lake from Lake Helen is where cairns proved to be very helpful as they were the means to determine the direction of travel over the solid stone surface.

13 days ago

Really 4+ Fun “recovery” hike. Lakes, flowers (for August), few people, and a ghost town. Make sure to visit the Shell Lake above the mines.

hiking
14 days ago

Very nice hike from the campground to East Lake passing by Green Lake. Parts of the trail can be very rocky, and there are numerous stream crossings with only rock or log makeshift bridges. Fine by me but it could be a challenge for others. Also, when continuing past Green to East Lake, the AllTrails Map is NOTHING like what’s actually on the ground. Numerous cairns and charcoal arrows have been left by courteous predecessors.
Green Lake is magically clear and you’ll really appreciate it once you climb one of the surrounding ridge lines.
I would estimate about 40-50% of the trail has shade, nice for these hot days. Enjoy it, this is one of the good ones!

This hike is as good as it gets. There's nothing more you can ask, just an absolutely amazing experience. I disagree with people that call this hike easy, the terrain is very challenging for a lot of the hike and hard to follow at times. Bring flip flops or waterproof shoes, you will get wet!

Beautiful and easy. Watch for crazy thunderstorms

Easy enough. Well marked with exception of a portion past steelhead if you’re going clockwise. But, there’s cairns to help you out if you look. Thunderstorms come in really fast so be aware. But all in all great trail. My 8 and 11 year old completed the whole trail with me.

Amazing views. Alone the whole time. Beautiful.

Very steep at first but beautiful views went all the way to the huts and beyond beautiful views landscapes .

I don’t want to tell anyone about this place because it was so beautiful!!! Hiked counter clockwise. Lots of rocks and unstable smaller rocks on the 7-10 o’clock side. But an absolute stunner of California!!

Well marked trail that is uphill from the trailhead to Oneida lake. Part of the trail is rocky so I would advise wearing good shoes. A fair sized alpine lake with good fishing. Beautiful views.

incredible, however, you have to like climbing. I went via Clark Lakes going and around Gem lakes returning. the Clark Lake route is VERY steep,, the trails join before you get to 1000 islands lake. TONS of mosquitoes, be prepared, they are very hungry. Enjoy, headed to the blood bank to replenish.

It’s a great hike. The views are incredible and panoramic of the lake loop. The log over the waterfall is no joke. I got dizzy looking at it. If you fear heights you should pass. If a 9 inch log over a waterfall 100s of ft up doesn’t scare you, do it! I’m glad I did it.

FIve of us did this as a backpacking trip over 3 nights on 7/2/18. Melissa K review is spot on. A few things to add
-Road to the trailhead is paved until 2 miles of dirt road. The rocks on the road made driving slower but not too difficult for a sedan.
-Mosquitoes may be few on the trail but near the lakes or staying overnight, they are LOTS. Be prepared with deet.
- This is not an easy hike and more difficult with a heavy backpack.
- The trail along the eastside side of Saddlebag seems really long but is much easier hiking than the rocky path on the west side of the lake.
-The trail shown behind Steelhead lake leads up the mountain to an abandoned mine. There isn't much of a trail, good luck finding the mine.
- Fishing is decent at Steelhead, Shamrock, and Helen lake. We didnt get a chance to fish Hummingbird or Odell but they looked great. Didnt catch anything over 12"' but saw some larger ones lurking, especially at Helen Lake.
- Couldnt find any suitable camping spots at Odell lake and only a few scattered sites at Hummingbird.
-HIghly recommend camping near Shamrock lakes and hiking the small mountain in the middle of the basin for sunrise. Spectacular views as the sun rises from up from Helen Lake

Flat but difficult hike, some parts a bit technical and scary with a pack. Views are well worth it! Great experience

hiking
1 month ago

Mountain scenery, flowers, lakes, a mine, and a ghost town: this hike has everything you need in a short hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Great rewards once you get past the first part

hiking
1 month ago

I really like this hike,
It starts out really steep, and at first I was thinking "oh no what have I done" because I just drove up here from basically sea level, pulled over and started this hike. Well I guess I acclimated quickly LOL, that or mainly because the trail flattens out after the first 1/2 mile or so...Its BEAUTIFUL! Looking back from where you came, you see snow capped mountains and a little meadow dotted with sparkling tarns. Looking forward you can see the lake nestled at the bottom of a cirque. The lake is impressive in its own little way...The surrounding scenery is gorgeous though. We saw tons of marmots playing in wildflower fields. The cathedral range (I think??) in the distance, We couldn't go past the first lake though because the usual Sierra thunderstorms were headed our way...Next time I will go back for the mine.

1 month ago

Completed the hike 7/6 with my sister. This was not an easy hike!!

First, no water taxi - the resort is closed - didn’t see any repair work being done and I believe the place is for sale. You have to hike around saddlebag lake to get to the trailhead.

We did the trail counter clockwise. Yes, many of the sections are flat and there are a few kind of steep sections...but what makes it hard are the jutting rocks (very rocky trail!), the loose scree and talus and the snow crossings and the major amount of areas where the trail is not marked.

As of 7/6, there are two snowfields you need to cross. One is fairly easy and the other is quite steep...as we were going counterclockwise, we needed to climb up the steep snow. My sister had a very tough time with this and got stuck. She was clinging to the side of the snow on the steep hill. She made it but not without bruises and cuts (see pics)

After the 2 snow crossings, the rest of the trail was pretty easy but again, parts were very rocky. There is also a snow cave before reaching lake Helen, but you don’t cross it on the trail. Mosquitos were nearly non existent.

I want to reiterate that this trail is not well marked!!! We had the AllTrails pro with offline maps, which saved us from getting lost. Very few people were on this trail (only saw 3 groups of hikers during our hike). Do not do this hike without some sort of gps map! There are a lot of side trails as well, and you can and will get turned around!

I also wouldn’t bring a dog on this trail - too much loose scree and talus, especially near Lake Helen.

Yes, it’s beautiful and probably one of the most scenic hikes in the area but prepare for a tough, rocky hike. And those snow crossings aren’t going away anytime soon! (The steep one is easier going down so if you go clockwise, it might be easier, but after Lake Helen, you have a steep uphill field of talus to deal with. Pick your poison, I guess)

hiking
1 month ago

Incredibly beautiful canyon hike. I have not ever seen these many waterfalls and running creeks on the Eastern Sierra in one place. Beautiful groves of aspen trees, lots of beaver ponds to sit by and serene country.

The only downside is that you can no longer reach Lake Helen due to the shale slides. The mountain has wiped out the last portion of the trail and the shale is not stable. I got about half way up and had to turn back as I was slipping down the slope.

hiking
1 month ago

It really is straight up almost the entire way but so worth it! Three ponds surrounding the lake. Beautiful wild flowers, blue sky and incredible views. Careful if you try to walk to other side of the lake. There is a very large glacier that is difficult to traverse. You cannot walk all around the lake as some had suggested. The ground cover is too thick to pass through. The view of the canyon on the side of the lake is worth the walk.

There are brook trout in the lake but weather conditions can make it difficult to catch. There was a pretty strong breeze today blowing across the lake and down the canyon.

What a great hike! Lots of colorful birds, flowers, ferns, buzzing critters this time of year. A must if in the area

@nancy - thanks for the update on water taxi. Will be prepared to hike 9 miles then :).

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful scenery and the wildflowers were amazingly abundant the entire way. Waterfalls along the way we’re gorgeous. The climb was pretty easy and there are lots of opportunities to wade into the water to cool down. Would definitely do it again!

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