Treble Lake Loop Hike
||Trip Date: 06/30/2016
Distance: 8.0 Miles
Vertical Gain: 850'
||N 37 56.312, W 119 15.024
||Same as Start Coordinates
Highway 395 turn west
toward the Yosemite park entrance on the eastern side of the park.
Follow Highway 120 (Tioga Pass Road) approximately 8 miles
turn right on Saddlebag Lake Road. Take an almost immediate
at the fork toward Junction Campground, and park at the coordinates
provided near a small plaque giving the history of the town of
Bennettville. If these spaces are full, turn around and park
along the road between here and Highway 120.
||Some elevation gain, mosquitos, cross-country navigation and use trail route finding.
This is a lightly used trail to Bennettville, and even lighter
for people using the use trail into the lakes area of the Hall Research
Area a few miles north.
across the small bridge
from the parking area toward Junction Campground, and then turn right
at the kiosk and the sign with the slightly misspelled name of the
ghost town (missing a "T".) You will head along the creek for
few hundred feet, and then the trail to Bennettville actually makes a
sharp left and heads upwards a little bit as opposed to the use trail
which continues along the creek. There is a sign here, but be
careful not to miss it. The trail which heads north at this point
on the side of Lee Vining Creek is actually the one you will be on
heading back at the end of the loop.
The trail will continue to meander a
little bit above the Junction Campground sites, and then head further
up along another river with a number of small cascades visible along
the way. After a mile you will see the two remaining
buildings from the Bennettville town, the Assayers office and a Barn.
There is a small plaque below the barn as you make your way
and there is information posted on the buildings about the history of
each of them.
west from the buildings, finding and then following a well-defined use
trail which heads north to the various lakes in this valley. The
first one, Shell Lake, you will reach within a mile, and the trail
follows very closely at times, the eastern edge of this clear, alpine
lake. Continue past this first lake, past a second, unnamed lake,
and within half a mile you will reach Fantail Lake. This is a
larger lake than the first, and one group I passed on my way was
heading here to fish and then turn back around afterward. Past
this lake the trail becomes a little less defined, and sometimes it can
be lost in the rocks ahead of you. Just keep heading upward on
the north side of this lake toward the northwest, and soon you will
reach the third named lake on the way, Spuller Lake. This is
where most people stop, as the trail ends here and the next set of
lakes are up and over a ridge directly to the north.
over this ridge, and soon you will be presented with three lakes.
They were actually called, (right to left) Maul, Green, and
Treble lakes at first, but a map labelling error caused Green and
Treble to be added together to make the left one Green Treble Lake and
the middle one now unnamed. Pick your way down large rocks and
boulders to aim between the two lakes to the left, and pause to enjoy
the pleasant green islands scattered throughout Green Treble Lake.
From this point on you will not be on any trail until the
very last 1/2 of the trip. You will follow the outlet from Green
Treble lake down into an open meadow, crossing numerous waterways as
you head north to meet up with Mine Creek. I was unable to find a
decent crossing over this waterway, which while frustrating and
worrying at first ended up being the best part of the hike.
to your right (east) and following along to the south of the creek for
over a mile, having to distance yourself at some points to avoid the
steep drops that the water makes from time to time. Eventually
the creek will merge with Lee Vining Creek ahead, at which point you
turn south and stay on the west side of this creek for the rest of the
way. The open meadow that Lee Vining Creek cuts through the
eastern edge of is beautiful, and offers amazing vistas of Mt. Dana to
the south. The pictures on this section were breathtaking, with
the color and the beauty all around. Near the last 1/2 mile of
the meadow you will find the use trail, which will take you back to the
Bennettville trail head and the parking area at Junction Campground.
to check out this information plaque regarding the history of this
town, as it was instrumental in developing Tioga Pass Road, what you
used to get to this starting point.
it is slightly misspelled on this sign, just across the bridge from the
parking area is the start of the trail to the ghost town.
||The beginning of the trail
follows Lee Vining Creek for a few hundred feet before turning off to
the west. Note the trail heading along the creek which is the one you will be on as you return at the end of the loop.
||The early path follows the course of a good amount of water, especially on a now rare wet year.
two use trails off from the main trail early on take you to some
interesting waterfall overlooks on the left side of the trail.
about the mile point you will have the two remaining buildings in
sight, as well as a small information plaque just below the bigger of
site of the town of Bennettville has a amazing view of Mt. Dana in the
distance, a 13K foot peak just inside the Yosemite boundary.
the town of Bennettville, a use trail follows the course of the water
north, with a first peak at Mt. Conness in the distance.
Lake is the first of the many lakes passed by on this trail, and is one
of the smallest in the chain of lakes in this area..
||Past Shell Lake is an unnamed small lake, which has a nice setting and great view of Mt. Dana again in the distance.
Shell Lake is the official wilderness boundary for the Hoover
Wilderness in the Inyo National Forest. Interesting to see this
sign given that this is an 'unofficial' trail.
lake in the chain is Fantail lake, which is much larger and wider than
the previous two. Mt. Conness is shown reflecting in very cold
past Fantail Lake is hard to follow at times, but as long as you stay
to the right of the waterfall which comes out of Spuller Lake a few
hundred feet higher than Fantail Lake.
fourth and most often last visited lake along this trail is Spuller
Lake, nestled in a bowl up against rocks near the base of White
Mountain high above.
a short cross-country climb up from Spuller Lake, you come to a small
ridge overlooking three lakes. From right to left they are Maul,
and unnamed lake, and then Green Treble Lake furthest on the left.|
down some pretty large rocks on the way to Green Treble Lake, head to a
small strip of land between Green Treble and the unnamed lake to it's
immediate west to continue on.|
unexpected vista above Green Treble Lake was a view of Saddlebag Lake
and the dam at the south end of the lake off in the distance.|
the outlet of Green Treble Lake, you head down into an open meadow area
which is filled with water crossings and drainage paths all flowing
down to Mine Creek near the bottom of the area. Mt. Conness looms
in the distance, and on the north side of Mine Creek is where peak
baggers heading to the top can be spotted.|
next section is all cross country, but along fairly level land
parallelling first Mine Creek and then Lee Vining Creek heading south,
on the way to completing the loop. |
very pleasant surprise on this loop trip was the last part heading
south through Dana Meadows, following Lee Vining Creek and showing off
great views of Mt. Dana.|
parking area for this hike, notable for the great view of the Dana
Plateau, known for being a Nunatak. This was an 'island of life'
above the glaciers which helped form the valleys in the area, as the
Plateau was so high up the fierce winds kept the snow from sticking.
||GPS Track of the full hike.