My husband and I love hiking above the 10,000 foot level (the trail starts at Saddlebag Lake, 10,080 ft and only goes up from there), and this was a great way to introduce our son to this kind of hiking. This hike is located just outside Yosemite National Park. The trails are not marked, so this wouldn’t be a good hike for anyone who has an issue with ambiguity. Trails split without any instructions as to which way to go. To us, this is part of the fun! We meandered along, basically knowing which direction we wanted to go (my husband has hiked several of the peaks that can be reached from this trail). We chose the routes that led around to the right of the many lakes and ponds.
We saw several families backpacking and camped out up here with kids. This would be a great spot for either the novice backpacker or as a first back country trip with the kids. The water taxi cuts 1.5 miles off the hike (3 miles round trip), and allows hikers to get out there further with less hiking. It would be easy to walk a half mile in and set up camp. Great way to get away from it all! This is a super popular area for fishermen.
We wandered up about two miles until we found a nice spot next to one of the Conness Lakes to rest and have lunch. Along the way, we enjoyed gorgeous views of mountain peaks, meadows, a meandering stream, multiple lakes, deer, wildflowers, tons of tiny little frogs, waterfalls, storm clouds, and a snake. On the return boat ride, they let my five-year-old drive (don’t worry, the driver was also holding on)!
Now that we know our kid not only can handle this kind of high-altitude hiking, but LOVES it, we’ll be doing a lot more in the future.
Interested in going? The turnoff to Saddlebag Lake is located on Highway 120/Tioga Pass Road, about two miles east of the Yosemite National Park entrance (exit). Park at the very end of the road. You can buy tickets to the water taxi inside the Saddlebag Lake Resort. Of course, you can also hike around the lake instead of taking the taxi. We hiked part of the trail to Mount Conness. See below for more hiking options. For information (hours, prices) about the water taxi, visit the Saddlebag Lake Resort website… www.saddlebaglakeresort.com/Boats.
Here are a few links to hikes out of Saddlebag Lake…