Written by Candace Gregory
White puffy clouds danced across the blue sky, casting their reflections in turquoise glacial-fed lakes. And those wildflowers were putting on a show along the trail that miners of yesterday utilized as they searched for their lucky strike!
Where: Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area, Hoover Wilderness, Inyo National Forest
Distance: 10.05 Miles (shorter by about 2.6 miles if the water taxi is running)
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Range: 10,092′ – 10,794′
Elevation Gain: 1,253′
Date: July 20, 2022
CALTOPO: Hiking to Conness Lakes
Dog Hike? Maybe
I just returned from a few days of camping with Fannie the Corgi at the Saddlebag Lake area with thunder, lightening, hiking and a little fishing.
To get to Saddlebag Lake, I exited the east entrance to Yosemite National Park at Tioga Pass then drove east on Hwy 120 about 2 miles to Saddlebag Road. Heading up the mostly dirt road to Saddlebag Lake, I stayed at the Saddlebag Lake Campground in the Inyo National Forest above the resort. If you are daytripping it, there is parking at the resort or at the adjacent backpacker parking lot.
One of our hikes was up to the glacial-fed Conness Lakes. We took the Saddlebag Lake Trail that goes around Saddlebag Lake (10,066′ elevation) and I took my usual dog-friendlier way along the east side, an old road that was utilized by the Hess Mine. But you can also start on the west side which is rockier but a little shorter. Those rocky parts on the west side are tough on a dog’s feet so I usually take the east side when I hike with the dogs and I always pack dog boots when we are on these trails.
The day after a little rain from thunderstorms, Saddlebag Lake was clear as glass and full of reflections.
The trail was lined with wildflowers, lush where springs and small creeks crossed the trail. I love this spot of the trail where a small spring creates a creek running down the hill and wildflowers just love this area!
Past the Ranger’s Cabin, the trail forked and we took the left fork toward Greenstone Lake, entering the Hoover Wilderness. My oh my, was Greenstone Lake pretty this morning! No matter which angle I took the picture, the reflections was amazing.
There are a couple of ways to get around Greenstone Lake. You can follow the left side and rock hop across the inlet to the lake, then follow the trail along the east side of the creek. We headed along a trail on the north side of Greenstone Lake that ties in with that trail along the creek. We soon entered Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area. This research area consists of 3,383 acres, set aside in 1933 to conduct research related to the soil and vegetation. Harvey Monroe Hall was a professor of Botany at U. C. Berkley, helping to establish methods for conducting reciprocal transplant experiments, whereas plants were moved and studied in the habitats of similar taxonomic species. One of the specific things that they studied is how plants adapted to various soils and elevations. Climate change is just one of the things that they are capturing data on.
As the trail climbed along the creek, there was a patch of what I think this is Western Labrador Tea, a member of the Rhododendron family.
And I had the waterfall in sight that came out of the Lower Conness Lake along where it used to flow into an old flume that was constructed for mining efforts in the area. More about some of those mining efforts a bit later. As I headed up that rocky slab, I let the Fannie off leash because it was just too much of a challenge for me to keep my footing on the narrow switchback trail with her on leash. There are actually several “trails” up this rocky slab and I took the easier and wider switchbacks to moderate the uphill angles for Fannie’s short little legs.
Read the full story: https://sierranewsonline.com/hiking-to-conness-lakes-with-fannie/