Twenty Lakes Basin via Saddlebag Lake

August 23-25, 2008

Hike Description:

A nice description of the hike can be found as Saddlebag 20 Lakes Basin,Yosemite. This trip is just east of Tioga Pass in the Inyo National Forest.  The loop is 11 miles, though the hike can be shortened to nine miles by taking water taxi run by Saddlebag Resort. As you can see in the Topo Map of 20 Lakes the basin is at 10K ft with a very modest elevation change through the hike. In addition to beautiful scenery, there will be lakes to swim or fish in,  rocks to scramble over, and lots of places to explore.

Getting There:

It takes approx 4.5 hours to get to Tuolumne Meadows, and another 45-60 minutes to get from Tuolumne Meadows to the Saddlebag trailhead.

Permit Info:

A wilderness permit is required for overnight trips. There is no quota for the trailhead, though parties are limited to 14 people. It is possible can get a wilderness permit at any of the Inyo Forest Service Stations (nearest is Mono Lake Visitor Center) or at the Tuolumne Meadow Ranger station (my choice). The Inyo Forest folks don't always remember than Tuolumne Meadows is issuing permits. This is a location that doesn't permit open wood fires but stoves are permitted.

Conditions we Expected:

Early Sept days should be in the 60-70s F, with the nights likely getting down into the 30-40s F.  It's somewhat common to have a brief shower in the afternoon, but it's unusual to get an extended rain storm. The weather can be variable.  So I would be prepared for the days into the low 80s, the nights to get down to the lower 30s, and rain, just in case.  Mosquitoes can be fierce, but thanks to a drier than normal season,, the mosquitoes should be only a minor irritation for this trip. You can see the weather predictions for Saddlebag Lake / 20 Lakes Basin Weather Prediction. Keep in mind that  temperature drops between 3-5 degrees for every 1000 ft of elevation.  Expect our temperatures to be approx 25F degrees cooler than the the bay area. You can see what the conditions have been recently by looking at Tuolumne Meadows Conditions which tends to be just slightly warmer than Saddlebag Lake.

The Plan:

A group will head up early Friday to grab some car camping spots in Tuolumne Meadows, get the wilderness permits, and them spend the rest of the day exploring the area around Tuolumne. The rest of the group will come up as their schedule permits, arrive in time for dinner, or later in the evening. Saturday morning we make breakfast, pack up, and drive the the trail head and hike around Saddlebag Lakes and go several miles in and set up camp and then have a fair bit of the afternoon to explore. Sunday we will eat breakfast, break camp, and finish the loop. We will grab dinner on the way home.

Food: Example Menu


Breakfast: Car camping breakfast food
Lunch: Fresh Fruit, Trail mix, Pita bread with salami, cheese, and/or moosegoo
Dinner: Cous Cous with vegetables and chicken, hummas & Pita bread, Dessert, and choice of beverages


Breakfast: Instant Oatmeal and/or Breakfast Bars, Hot beverage and/or water
Lunch: Repeat of Saturday
Dinner: On the road


When I know who is coming we will break into smaller groups which will cook together and share common items like a water filter and shelter.

Personal Supplies

We have a Basic Gear Check List if you aren't sure what you need to bring. If you want more detailed suggestions about what to take (including trade-offs) see my outdoor gear page and/or drop me email and I would be happy to help. If you need something, make sure you check the box(es) of the trip form and/or send me email. We will try to find gear you can borrow. Worse case, there are a number of places that rent gear

Physical Preparation

The hike is above 10K feet, but with little elevation change. People in average condition with have no trouble completely this trip.