oleander wrote:That said, the Hoover Wilderness entries east of Yosemite are in contention. Point taken on Barney Lake being overburdened, so I have crossed that one off. Does anyone remember how permitting works at Hoover? I would love to take them to Saddlebag but if the snow is slow to melt, there's some chance our mid-July dates might be too early to start a hike at 10k and go uphill from there. I will check out East Lake, and the Virginia and Lundy entries. (Anyone have an opinion which is the prettiest?) I vaguely remember one of these entries is hard to access if you don't have a 4wd.
Middle Velma: Funny, I've camped there once and my recollection is that it was moderately tricky to find campsites. It's a big lake, so maybe we were on the wrong side. (We camped about midway along the south shore.) There must be a section of Middle Velma with better camping?
Twin Lakes (Desolation): Roomy but really rocky with sharp rocks? That's how I remember it. What's the best part of that basin to camp in?
Chickenfoot (Little Lakes Basin): sounds good. However, this is the highest-elevation of all the lakes we're looking at, so we're a little concerned that if we pop $40 for our permit 6 months in advance, we're taking our chances that a lakes basin at 10,700 feet is (not) melted out by July 13. What are our chances?
Hilton Lakes - same area - I like that they are slightly lower in elevation. Are they as pretty?
June Lakes loop/Agnew & Gem Lakes, I recall not much caring for that trail, but not sure why.
Here's a few more answers. Regarding the Virginia-Green Creek-Lundy options. The three trailheads are all accessible by passenger car and do not require high clearance or 4wd. I think East Lake is the prettiest of all of those, although West is pretty stunning too.
Middle Velma. I've never camped there, but seem to recall seeing some good spots on the E side--opposite the trail and off the beaten track.
Twin Lakes. I think there are good sites to be had and one kind find other good places to camp aplenty between the Twins and Island Lake above, which also has lots of room.
Chickenfoot. Although high in elevation, lakes east of the crest thaw earlier than those west of the crest owing to distinctly less snowfall. July 13 will be fine even in a heavy snowfall year which this winter looks like it won't be. There are other good options in this basin. Long Lake has a very large number of good campsites, for example.
Given that the Little Lakes Valley lakes will be thawed by July 13, certainly the Hiltons won't be a problem. They are pretty, but not as classically scenic and alpine as those in Little Lakes Valley (ie Chickenfoot et al.).
June Lakes loop. I think I know why you don't like that trail. The first part to Agnew Lake out of Silver Lake is fairly steep and it can seem a bit harsh to start right off with that. That having been said, it is really not that far, nor is it that much elevation gain.