Explore the most popular lake 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.

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

4 days ago

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

9 days ago

Great rewards once you get past the first part

10 days 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.

10 days 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)

12 days 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.

13 days 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 :).

15 days 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!

Breathtaking scenery! Definitely a must-do. The climbing wasn’t difficult and the views are amazing around every corner. The mosquitoes were relentless this time of year so be prepared. This higher altitude of this hike helped us acclimate for a much longer hike the next day. We liked the longer trail on the east side of the lake better than the scree field on the west side because there was some shade, the trail was in good condition, and there were less mosquitoes.

15 days ago

Did this hike with my fiancé and his 71 yr old mom. All 3 of is loved it. Easy hike and extraordinary views. We made it to one lake and would’ve loved to keep going but had gotten started a little too late in the day so turned around. Mostly shady and follows a beautiful creek.

Just hiked this trail with a group yesterday and we we’re all blown away by the beauty this trail offers. If you like beavers you’ll really appreciate the epic views of these clever engineers’ work. My fiancé and I also jumped in for a little impromptu swim along the way! It is pretty easy but does have some rocky points as well as flooded areas that can present challenges for young kids or older people. We hiked with my 71 yr old mother-in-law who has hip problems but she took it slow and still loved it. Overall it’s a real gem!

15 days ago

Hiked July 1, 2018. Intimidated by a bad section of the road, we parked and walked. Road soon improved—should have driven to trailhead. Wildflowers were great and there were many landscape photo ops. Because we started at 2:00 pm we had to stop at the log cabin. We’ll be back!

19 days ago

I hiked this summer 2016 and continued until the trail ends at the cliff wall at Steelhead Lake. Amazing hike.

Best hike in the area. We used to take boat taxi. Sadly, the resort and docks suffered extreme damage from snow 2017. It is now for sale. No boat taxi and store closed. Just add on couple miles to the hike.

on Gaylor Lakes Trail

21 days ago

It was okay.

23 days ago

Beautiful scenery at every turn! The 1st half on the way to the peak is easy. Climbing to the peak builds the heart rate but the views from the top on both sides are spectacular and I feel like it would be ok to turn around from there if you were looking for a shorter hike. The decent from the peak is a little tricky as the trail is shale and switchbacks and sometimes the trail is lost with snow cover, but there was a crew of three men working on digging the snow away from the trail in a few places. The hardest part is knowing you have to climb back up the peak from the summit.

23 days ago

Tiny little trail around Glenn lake. Great vistas of Mt Dana.

24 days ago

Pretty straight forward hike down towards the water's edge to look at the tufa towers. Flies are everywhere, but they stay low and don't bother people. If you are going to make one quick stop at Mono Lake, this is probably it.

Not much of a hike but it was an interesting walk. the rocks where salt and cool to see.

28 days ago

There were still some patches of snow on June 15, but a beautiful hike! You pass many lakes, and have to cross some sections of creek by stepping on rocks. Definitely recommend!

Half of the trail was snowed out and had to trek through it which was I wasn’t expecting. Trail was not clearly marked because of it. Would have enjoyed this trail a lot more probably in a couple of months. The views were pretty though. Was really looking for the Twenty Lakes trail which was supposed to be off of this one but because trail wasn’t marked clearly just ended up finishing this trail instead.

very pretty but not for those who are out of shape. I would consider this hike to be steep. also there is a really narrow log bridge over a steep roaring Creek. not for those who are scared of falling. I believe fern lake is more beautiful. turn right and go to fern lake for better views and a short hike.

1 month ago

Hiked on May 31st, still quite a fair bit of snow pack, had to turn around because of the soft snow field just before you ascend to Middle Gaylor Lake.

It is a nice short walk to see tufa and mono lake. very unique. even it is very short, but if you want to be there for a while and take pics, do not forget bring water.

easy and amazing

2 months ago

Walk down from the Visitor Center via paved paths to a closer view of Mono Lake. The VC is very interesting and worth a stop. Drive out to the east side for some up close and personal interaction with the tufas.

2 months ago

Quick stop and boardwalk to the edge of Mono Lake north from the Visitor Center. Lots of birds.

I have a question. I’m planning to do this trail for Labor Day and taking my pet. Do they allow dogs in the taxi?

How hot would it be for Labor Day?

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