Hiking / Backpacking Hoover Wilderness Hiking/Backpacking Hoover Wilderenss Wilderness

10 Great Hoover Wilderness Day Hike Excursions

Hoover wilderness hero Image
Written by sierrarecmagazine

Hoover Wilderness – Named in honor of President Herbert Hoover. Rising from the Great Basin to the crest of the Sierra Nevada bordering Yosemite National Park, the Hoover Wilderness is spectacular. Extremely rugged and magnificently scenic with elevations from around 7,000 feet to more than 12,000 feet, a region of alpine lakes and lovely meadows but little timber. With its magnificent scenery and well-maintained trail system, the Hoover Wilderness is a very popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Hoover was one of the original units of the National Wilderness Preservation System. It was established as a Primitive Area in 1931, then as a Wild Area in 1957. In 1964, Congress designated it as a Wilderness Area. It now has a total of 128,000 acres. The southern portion, from Lundy Canyon to Highway 120-Tioga Pass road is managed by the Inyo National Forest. The remainder, Virginia Lakes and north,  is managed by the Humboldt/Toiyabe National Forest.

We have hiked into the Hoover Wilderness many times in the past ten years. There are still many locations we have yet to visit. However this list of our 10 favorite day hike excursions in the Hoover Wilderness is the perfect list for anyone wanting to see a special location with a little effort. The Hoover wilderness will test most day hikers and the terrain is a bit rugged and since many of the lakes and meadows are at significant altitudes from the valleys we travel from, a day hike will often seem harder in the Hoover Wilderness section.

10 Great Hoover Wilderness Day Hike Excursions

Hoover wilderness hero Image
Green Lake Hoover wilderness

Green Lake & East Lake – Possibly our favorite Fall hike in the Hoover Wilderenss, this route is an excellent backpackers destinations as well with many options for lakes, fall colors and forest variations. Green Lake is a beautiful setting and is set as the lowest lake on this route. From hear you can head either up to West lake on a rather steep ascent or follow the trail up to East lake and beyond.

shamrock Lake- 20 lakes basin

Steelhead and Shamrock Lakes – 20 Lakes basin – For the more adventurous you can actually see just about all 20 lakes in a day hike if you are willing to go a bit off trail and scurry through he rock. However if you are just looking to see a few of the magical waters of the 20 Lakes basin target Shamrock Lake and Steelhead Lake for possibly the bluest waters you can find in the Sierra.


Lundy Canyon – Another popular Fall hiking destination Lundy Canyon is a favorite of ours for hiking upstream. the terrain is rugged but the sky line neve dulls as you climb the canyon. Beaver dams can be seen on this route and at the end of the canyon is a great water fall coming down from the 20 lakes basin.

Blues Lake morning Reflection Virginia Lakes basin
Blues Lake morning Reflection Virginia Lakes basin

Virginia Lakes & Blue Lake – The Virginia Lakes trailhead system is so underrated as far as a hiking destination. Virginia Lake you can actually drive right to and then it is just a short hike up to Blue lake. Highly suggest climbing along the trail to the top of Blue Lake for a great photo shot. If you are ready to climb a bit further there are several lakes in the next couple miles of this trail, but you will feel the burn.

Secret Lake – Leaving the Leavitt’s Meadow one of our favorite destinations is Secret Lake. A small mountain lake surrounded by trees, Secret Lake is a great day hike with two trails options.

Leavitt Meadows – Roosevelt Lake & Lane Lake – Another Leavitt Meadow cant miss excursion is Roosevelt and Lane lake. Great fishing, backpacking destinations as well. Swim with the Crawdads and otters at these lakes.

Gardisky Lake – It is a steep climb to reach the high meadow and ponds that lead to Gardisky Lake, a total of 1.2 miles from Saddlebag Lake Road. The open, sunny meadows near the lake give views of Tioga Peak and to the west, White Mountain on the Yosemite National Park boundary.

Lake Canyon to Oneida Lake – Starting at the south end of Lundy Lake, the Lake Canyon trail steadily climbs the narrow canyon between Gilcrest Peak and Mount Scowden. It is 3.3 miles to reach Oneida Lake with Blue Lake nearby. Common Destinations: Lundy Lake, Crystal Lake, Oneida Lake

Greenstone Lake
Greenstone Lake 20 Lakes Basin – Hoover wilderness

Greenstone and Conness Lakes – Back in the 20 Lakes basin Greenstone and Conness Lakes is a great excursion. Honestly Greenstone Lake is one of our favorite spots. It is hard to leave and hike on but climbing up to Conness Glacial Lakes is a cant miss adventure on the Eastern Sierra.

Barney Lake – Picturesque Barney Lake spreads in the shadow of 11,346-foot Crown Point in the Hoover Wilderness. An easy 4-mile hike from the Twin Lakes trailhead places visitors on a sandy beach at the foot of the lake. The beach is a popular destination for day-hikers.

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