sawmill lake as a quick weekend.. worth it?

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oldranger
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Re: sawmill lake as a quick weekend.. worth it?

Post by oldranger » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:14 pm

Re: fishing

Mediocre in my experience. Skinny rainbow to 12". I thought sawmill canyon was pretty nice, especially since I was on a mule and not slogging up the sand.

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Re: sawmill lake as a quick weekend.. worth it?

Post by giantbrookie » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:52 am

DavePloessel wrote:Never been up/over sawmill pass but always thought it looked interesting as an overnighter close to home. I'm wondering if any/many of you has been up there early in a low snow year like this (looking early may)? For the important stuff: comfy in any/all terrain and season. Goals are big scenery, isolation, a good workout, and fishing. Plan is to head up to lone pine area friday afternoon, get a very early start sat AM, camp at sawmill lake, rise early sunday and hit the pass for a peek over the top, then back down and out.
I think this is a fine idea for a strenuous overnighter as long as one is in pretty good condition going in. An early start gets you around the biggest issue with the Sawmill trail, which is that the trailhead is in fact the lowest elevation trailhead of all of the big east side passes. Because of the low elevation and exposed nature of the lower trail, it can get very hot hiking up that lower portion. My wife and I had a very late start in the summer of '97 going up there and I had nearly wiped out 4L of water before I reached the first refill opportunity.

The scenery in the canyon is quite nice and I think Sawmill Lake is particularly scenic because it is deep and there are mixed rock colors with metamorphic rocks on its periphery. There are some campsites that provide a very nice two-way view (ie an eagle's perch sort of view looking down the canyon as well as looking upstream).

I think fishing quality at the lake probably varies with the season as it does with many lakes. This is a fishery that has been fairly stable for a very long time--I have a friend who went up there in the 50's or 60's and his experience was very similar to ours in 1997--good rainbows with a few browns. I realize browns aren't shown in the DFW online guide but if they were there in the 50's and late 90's I suspect they're still there.

If for some funny reason Sawmill's fish aren't cooperative or if they're running smallish as noted by Old Ranger above, then you might put a few casts into Woods Lake over the top of the pass. Woods Lake does in fact have too many brookies in it, but in 1997 these ran to a respectable 13" and were not even close to stunted (ie they were reasonably thick and not skinny). The other lakes around Woods have stunted brookies in them and are not that interesting.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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coff20
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Re: sawmill lake as a quick weekend.. worth it?

Post by coff20 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:26 pm

I was up there last summer for two nights. I had the same sort of trip idea as you except with an extra day in the middle to go up and look at the pass and then head out on the third day. There's definitely some nice campsites if you look around. I found the fishing to be decent on flies, spinners, and spoons. I didn't catch anything huge, but there were definitely a fair number in the 12-15" range. I caught mostly rainbows, but just as giantbrookie mentioned, I caught one brown as well.
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Re: sawmill lake as a quick weekend.. worth it?

Post by KathyW » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:27 pm

The sun hits the lower part of the trail early in the morning, but late in the day the lower part of the trail is in the shade. As you suggested, an early start is really important on a warm day. The other option (the one I think I'd do if I ever go up that trail again) is to start out late in the day as it starts to cool down and trek up the trail a few hours before finding a place to sleep for the night to try to hike up that lower sandy section when it is shaded. I'm not sure what time the part of the trail goes into the shade because it's been pretty late the couple times I came down it. Once I reached the trailhead just as it got dark and I was in the shade for a few hours. The other time I got out about 11 pm; so I was in the dark for a while (it was 88 degrees at the trailhead at 11pm that time); so coming out in the dark was on purpose to avoid the heat.

It's a long haul to Sawmill Lake. I have to say that I probably would not go up the Sawmill Pass Trail just to go to Sawmill Lake, but it does make a nice place to camp when you are passing it on your way to or from Sawmill Pass.

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Re: sawmill lake as a quick weekend.. worth it?

Post by jenreyn » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:20 pm

I was just up there two and a half weeks ago. We got up to Sawmill Meadow before the boyfriend called mutiny......he had enough uphill at that moment :) There was no snow up to that point and it looked like where Mule Lake was up canyon there was snow. I'd say there may be patchy snow up at Sawmill still. Either way the trail was in good condition and not too sandy yet. Kathy is right about the heat and the exposed lower part. Start real early or use an umbrella for shade. Its real hot early with its east exposure. We did see this on our way up the trail:
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Re: sawmill lake as a quick weekend.. worth it?

Post by jenreyn » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:24 pm

Also to note, there was no water in Sawmill meadow. If you do go the only place for water before you get higher will be in the creek drainage before hiking up the hogsback. From there it may not be until up by Mule Lake or higher.

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