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Saddlebag Lake permits, what's the story?

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Saddlebag Lake permits, what's the story?

Postby oleander » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:35 pm

Looking at Saddlebag Lake as a destination to bring my friend who is new to backpacking. I understand the part about how you have to hike in past the lake (or take the ferry) before setting up camp. I've been in the lakes basin up behind/to the north of Saddlebag, and also over the ridge to McCabe Lakes, but that was a very long time ago.

What's the story with permits to Saddlebag? The Inyo National Forest information:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/rec ... 2&actid=51

...suggests that there is no quota, but that a permit is still necessary. And that the permit is normally issued by Inyo National Forest, but that it can also be obtained in Yosemite (Tuolumne) if you prefer not to drive over to one of the Inyo ranger stations to get it. Just wanted to verify that it's easy to get a Saddlebag permit at Tuolumne Meadows. (It's confusing that Saddlebag falls within Hoover Wilderness, but is managed by an entirely different agency, the Inyo National Forest. And that yet a third jurisdiction, Yosemite NP, issues permits for it!)

Usually when there is no quota, you can just self-permit by signing a register at the trailhead. Is this not the case?

They cannot be booked in advance on the Inyo reservation system at recreation.gov.

Also: Anyone know how often the ferry runs, or what it costs?

- Elizabeth



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Re: Saddlebag Lake permits, what's the story?

Postby markskor » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:27 pm

Ah Saddlebag!

There are no quotas for the area, but yes, permits are required.
As suggested, Permits can be obtained easiest in Tuolumne Meadows (only 10 miles past the Saddlebag cutoff - if you are already up the hill) but the $20 park entrance fee at Tioga might make getting a permit in Lee Vining or Mammoth cheaper/easier if coming up 395.
As I understand the camping "rules", you can camp almost anywhere backside, except right at Saddlebag shore - plenty of places though close-by - just follow the inlet stream on the back end - up a couple of hundred yards and you are good to go...no fires as above 10,000. BTW, fishing can be very good backside Saddlebag - 'nuff said.

The ferry, though a fun ride (makes taking those extras easy) has gotten a bit expensive over the years. Time was when a round trip was $5 - no longer. Last year the fare was $10 and to top things off, they add a $6 backpack fee - $16 pp round trip total. The ferry starts early - think 8, for sure 9:00 AM and goes every hour, sometimes every half hour if in demand, until 5:00 at night. They always ask you when you want to be picked up...could be three days later - same one-price package. Expect many fishermen/ hikers (with dogs) using the ferry all day - always lots of visitors/anglers from the backside dock to the inlet stream 1/8 mile south. Hint, if intending camping backside Saddlebag, of all those coming off the ferry, very few ever venture to other side of this inlet stream...see Topo.

FYI, there is a fine (albeit rocky) trail around Saddlebag - mostly level. The 2 mile walk to the backside (West side is shorter) is a breeze - maybe 45 minutes.

Best Saddlebag memories are always right after the last ferry leaves the backside at night and you have the entire north end to yourself - Fishing under the alpenglo. Nice trail around 20 Lakes Basin - 8-mile circuit. Conness/Yosemite can be accessed from back there as well, as is also an interesting route over to Lee Vining...via Lundy Canyon.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Saddlebag Lake permits, what's the story?

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:22 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Saddlebag Lake permits, what's the story?

Postby bluefintu » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:16 pm

Hi Elizabeth,
I took my son to Saddlebag area 5 years ago? something like that, I thought about taking the water taxi, but it would have cost me and my son $30 for a very easy hike around the lake. The Eastside of the lake is a walk in the park, but the west side has a bunch of boulders, some are very sharp, but be careful. When are you going? We went on The Fourth of July!!! It was BAD, the bugs were out enforce, I slapped my son in the back with my hand, and I must of killed at least 40-50 bugs. We left a day early, we had hot weather and lots of bugs/skeeters going everywhere,in your nose, mouth, ears, eyes,they even went through the holes in my hat. Don't even think about taking your pants off, or else. I learned that one a long time ago.

Permit, should be no problem, if your going up or down 395. When we went, I think they had a Ranger Station at Saddlebag Lake parking lot. We got our last minute (walk-in) permit at Mono Lake Ranger Station.
Don
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Re: Saddlebag Lake permits, what's the story?

Postby ndwoods » Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:29 am

Ditto no quota thus can be very crowded. I always somehow manage to find a camping spot with solitude....
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Re: Saddlebag Lake permits, what's the story?

Postby Jason » Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:08 pm

When my wife and I went a couple years ago in August, there was someone in one of the parking lots issuing permits. This was in August of 2009 or 2010. You may be able to call and verify before hand if they'll be there, it'd be a shame to drive all the way in and then have to go back to get a permit.

My wife and I took the ferry across and then walked the basin loop that Markskor mentions, going in a clockwise fashion. We camped by lake Helen near the 'top' of the loop and once there didn't see any other people or campers until walking out the next day. No mosquitoes either. There were quite a few people around Steelhead Lake early in the loop, but I'm sure that by walking just a little bit further you could find solitude on the backside of the lake.

Have fun!
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