Great Hike: Saddlebag Lake to the Conness Lakes

Now this was a super-fun hike.  How many hikes begin with a ride across a lake on a water taxi??  This was a first for our son… he’s never been on a boat!  The views from the lake were gorgeous.

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…

Here are a few links to hikes out of Saddlebag Lake…


      1. I love it too!…now I’m hoping that the little mouse that was scurrying through our tent cabin and nibbling on plastic wrappers in my dufflebag was a healthy little mouse!…a good reason to sleep in my own zipped up tent, rather than tent cabins!


        1. So true. Scary, isn’t it? I was concerned at the time about all the cute little rodents scurrying around our campground, with my son rolling around in the dirt, breathing the dust. But they say that the virus is best transmitted in cabin-type environments. Yes, hope your mouse was healthy!


  1. LIFE can it really get much better than a trip like that. I try to have one a month getting it on film is just a bonus


  2. Beautiful indeed… We did something similar at Whistler/Blackcomb here in B.C. a few days ago, but instead of a water taxi, we rode gondolas and such. I already put a couple of pictures up on my blog (of The Tusk and mountain flowers and may very well talk about in a longer post one of these days).


  3. This looks like a wonderful hike and your photos are just great! At a time when so many kids are attached to their electronic games and seldom see the out-of-doors, I find it a breath of fresh air that you and your husband are introducing your son to nature. Congrats!


  4. what a great hike in a grand place! Have you ever considered being a travel agent..or a guide? You have me sold on this hike! And I’ll say it again….that is one lucky kid you have! 🙂


  5. Your son will forever have a passion for this kind of activity because once it’s in your blood there is no going back. Lovely photos and looks to be a excellent hike. Great work.


    1. He seems to like it more and more all the time. Funny, considering we’ve been taking him to Yosemite four times/year since he was less than two months old. Nature is definitely seeping into his being. Oh, did he cry when we left the campground!! He said he wanted to live there. If only we could….


  6. I wished I lived close to this place, it looks like an amazing hike. I would love to do this with my family for the day and Yosemite is somewhere I have always wanted to go. You took some beautiful pictures also!


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