While I was planning to visit these lakes, I was looking for information. Unfortunately, did not find much information that would help me complete the hike. After finishing the hike, I decided to write it up for my memory and for others who want to hike this lake. Here I am, writing about the Conness Lake hike, one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done in the Sierra Nevada. Conness Lake is not a single lake, a combination of five lakes fed by the largest glacier in the Sierra Nevada and located in the north region of Tioga Pass.
The hike starts from the Saddlebag Lake trailhead Parking area, which is located east of the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite. There are two ways to start the hike. You can hike the side of Saddlebag Lake and then go for Conness Lake. Or, you can take the water taxi, operated by the Saddlebag Lake Resort. In our case, we took the water taxi, which made our hike a little bit shorter. Also, we did not have to walk to the end of Saddlebag Lake. If you are planning to take the water taxi, do not forget to bring cash with you. We did not bring enough cash (we had credit cards, but no use in this case) and a very kind man helped us to pay for the water taxi. This is the thing I love most about hiking and traveling. People are helpful and they care. I appreciate that kind man who helped us that day. Either you hike or take the water taxi, you will reach the other side of the lake. From there, continue to head up the east side of Greenstone Lake. Once you are at the end of the Greenstone Lake, cross over to the Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area. In 1933, this 3383-acre area was set aside to conduct research related to the soil and vegetation. If you find a signboard that has the name of the research area, then you are on the right trail.
From that point, follow the creek on your right towards the rocky mountain face and soon you will be able to see a waterfall. You do not need to go up to the waterfall. On your right you will be able to see a trail, it’s not marked but distinguishable. Follow the trail that heads up the rocky slab of a hill. If you have reached up to this point, know that the lakes are nearby but you have to do a little bit of scramble and find the route that will take you up to the lake. I would say this part of the trail is the hardest one. If there is snow, it makes things a little bit harder. Otherwise, it’s not that bad and doable. Once you are at the top; you will see saddlebag lake and Greenstone Lake with all the mountains and vegetation, and this is quite amazing to see. At the same time, you will be able to spot the lower Conness Lake and Mt. Conness from a distance. There are three lakes one after another that make the lower Conness Lake. These lakes are not huge but very beautiful. To reach the middle Conness Lake, you have to climb up about 0.75 miles on the left. It’s better to carry a hand GPS or a topo map that will show the direction of the lake. As there is no marked trail or path to follow in between the rocks, we just followed the location direction of the lake and found the middle lake very easily. The location of upper Conness lake is on your right while facing the middle lake. As I said, it is better to follow the topo map. Without a map or GPS, it’s become hard to go to all the lakes. The upper lake is an easy 0.5 mile across the rocky slabs. I think the upper lake the biggest one among all the five lakes and the most beautiful one. Located at the bottom of Mt. Conness, this lake is a pure beauty.
The colors of the lakes are different from each other- ranging from greening turquoise to grey to blue and the color always changes with the sunlight and cloud coverage. But one thing I can say is that the color of the lakes is very beautiful. We visited on a very hazy day, hazy because of the wildfire in the nearby region and the sky was hazy with pink clouds. We could not see the real color of the lake but still, it was amazing, and the hike was quite spectacular. This hike was easy except for the last part climbing up to the lakes. If there is still snow, please be cautious while climbing up.
At a glance
- Location: Hoover Wilderness, Inyo National Forest
- Trailhead Location: Saddlebag Lake trailhead
- Trailhead coordinates: 37.965736, -119.270912
- Hike Distance: around 8 miles
- Difficulty: moderate with some route finding at the end
- Amenities: none
- Elevation change: around 800 ft
- Please bring a topo map or a hand GPS with you that will show you the direction of the lakes
- Mountain weathers change very frequently. Please dress properly in layers. Bring enough water and snacks.
- Please practice the 'leave no trace' principle. Let’s make this world a better place to live together.
#travel #nature #lake #hike #california #explore #adventure