Back to index Green Treble Lake Loop Hike
Trip Date:  06/30/2016

Distance
: 8.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 850'

Group Size: 1
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
Green Treble Hike
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Green Treble Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 37 56.312, W 119 15.024     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates

Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   From 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 and turn right on Saddlebag Lake Road.  Take an almost immediate left 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.
Hazards of Note:   Some elevation gain, mosquitos, cross-country navigation and use trail route finding. Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  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.
General Notes:
Head 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 a 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 (restored) buildings from the Bennettville town, the Assayers office and a Barn.  There is a small plaque below the barn as you make your way up, and there is information posted on the buildings about the history of each of them.
Head 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.  
Continue 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.  
Turn 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.



Be sure 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. Info Plaque
Although 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.
Trailhead
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. River
The early path follows the course of a good amount of water, especially on a now rare wet year. Water on the way
One or two use trails off from the main trail early on take you to some interesting waterfall overlooks on the left side of the trail.
Falls 
At just 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 the two. Bennettville in sight 
The old 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.
Dana behind building
Just past the town of Bennettville, a use trail follows the course of the water north, with a first peak at Mt. Conness in the distance. Past Bennettville 
Shell 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.. Shell Lake
Past Shell Lake is an unnamed small lake, which has a nice setting and great view of Mt. Dana again in the distance. Dana again
Past 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. Inyo
The third 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 water. Fantail Lake
The trail 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. Past Fantail 
The 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. Spuller Lake
After 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.Green Treble Lake
Climbing 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.Closer Look
One 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.Saddlebag Lake
Following 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.Mt. Conness
The 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. Dana Meadow
A 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.Mt. Dana Again
The 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.  Parking spot
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike