Saddlebag Lake Campground in the Tioga Pass area had just opened and I wasted no time heading up there to check out the high country. Four days of camping gave my dog Sally and me plenty of time to wander by the high lakes in the area and get some fishing in!
Where: Hoover Wilderness, Inyo National Forest
Distance: 9.08 Miles
Elevation Range: 10,092′ – 10,536′
Date: June 26, 2018
Maps: Falls Ridge and June Lake Topogs
Dog Hike? Yes
Sally and I drove to Saddlebag Lake Road, just east of the Yosemite National Park Tioga Pass entrance. Heading up the mostly dirt road to Saddlebag Lake, I stayed at the Saddlebag Lake Campground in the Inyo National Forest above the Saddlebag Lake Resort. If you are daytripping it, there is parking at the resort or at the adjacent backpacker parking lot. Speaking of the Saddlebag Lake Resort, it suffered snow damage a couple of years ago and is not back in operation yet and it is for sale. That means no pie from their cafe and no water taxi to get us across the lake, so I brought my own pie and walked around the lake to get to the other side. . . but I sure miss those wonderful folks from Saddlebag Lake Resort.
As soon as I got camp set up, Sally and I took a short walk down to the lake. When the wind wasn’t blowing, there were plenty of mosquitoes and gnats. When the wind would come up, those flying pests left us alone.
On the third morning, Sally and I ventured out to my secret fishing hole. Since she had been walking on those rocks for a few days, her paw pads were starting to get a bit of wear, so she wore her boots to help protect them. I checked her boots often and tightened them up as needed. Sometimes she throws a shoe and the bright color of her boots help me find them. Her hiking boots are made by Ruffwear and although they don’t make the model that she is wearing, they have other types. If I am hiking with Sally and don’t have her boots on, I still carry them in case she has a paw injury.
We headed up the Twenty Lakes Loop til we were a little shy of Dore Pass, then I headed cross country toward Z Lake, past more tarns or seasonal little lakes than I have seen in this area. I was headed toward a chute that approached the back side of Shamrock Lake but had to change course when I saw that my approach to the lake was full of snow and ice, so I headed over to a different chute to approach the lake. But it was all good because I wandered by so many unique tarns, each full of different reflections. These tarns don’t last long and by the end of summer they will have dried up. I think that is one of the reasons I like the area so much. The views are always changing up there.
We finally reached my secret fishing spot and fished. I caught my limit of Brook trout in about an hour and a half, then sat on a rock and had lunch. Sally also had her lunch, a combination of Zuke’s Power Bones and a TurboPUP Complete K9 Meal Bar. She expends a ton of energy on our hikes and needs to replace those calories.
We headed back in a more direct line over the hill and past Z Lake. Looking back I could see Steelhead Lake and the Hess Mine.
It wasn’t long before Saddlebag Lake ad Mt. Dana were in my sights.
Then we met up with the trail on the east side of the Twenty Lakes Loop and back to our campsite.
We had a wonderful camping trip, a successful day of fishing and a fun day hiking up to the glacial fed Conness Lakes which I plan on sharing with you next week. Can’t wait to get back up there!
Maps and Profile:
This hike can be a good dog hike if your dog is up to it. The rocky terrain is very rough on a dog’s feet and I packed Sally’s boots just in case she got a sore spot on her paw or sliced her foot on one of those sharp rocks. Even if you think your dog’s feet are toughened up enough for this hike, you can have surprises so please be prepared. Sally hiked for 6 days on this trip and I alternated easy days and longer days with her hiking. By the 4th day, one of her feet was a little worn so I made her wear her boot on one of her front feet and we took it easy on our remaining camping days.This is a good hike for Sally. It is above tree line so I can keep a good eye on her and let her run a little. There aren’t any rattlesnakes or poison oak and there is plenty of good, fresh drinking water for her all along the way. That means I don’t have to pack her water and that is a good thing! Sally has never had any problems drinking the water out of these higher elevations but some dogs may not be as easy as Sally on this issue. I think you need to know your dog and you may need to carry some water for them. This area also has bubonic plague and if you dog gets a hold of a critter such as a squirrel or mouse, this could be something to watch for after a trip in this area.
Here is some information from Inyo National Forest regarding their dog rules:
Traditionally, National Forests have welcomed dogs. However there are a few rules that apply to assure that you and other National Forest visitors have an enjoyable outdoor recreation experience. If you are camping with your pet, please practice the following:
- Leave vicious or unusually noisy dogs at home.
- During the day keep your dog on a leash no more than 6 feet long, or otherwise restrict its freedom to roam at will.
- At night keep your dogs and other pets inside an enclosed vehicle or in a tent.
- Developed campgrounds are for people, not animals. Please do not bring more than two dogs or other pet to any one campsite.
General rules for dogs within the Inyo National Forest:
- Dogs are allowed for trips staying in the National Forest. Pet food must be stored the same as required for your food.
- Dogs are prohibited, as are any other pets, on trips visiting the wilderness of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
- Pets need to be on leash or under verbal command. Do not allow pets to chase or harass wildlife.
Prior Blogs in the Area: