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Exploring Hoover Wilderness

World Class Hiking, Backpacking, Fishing and Adventure found just East of Yosemite National Park

Rising from the Great Basin to the crest of the Sierra Nevada bordering Yosemite National Park, the Hoover Wilderness is spectacular. With its magnificent scenery and well-maintained trail system, the Hoover Wilderness is a very popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Fishing, backpacking, hiking, horseback and more all easily accessible in the Hoover wilderness.

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.

Wilderness Permits are required for overnight visits. Reservations are unnecessary for entering via Saddlebag Lake, Lakes Canyon, or Lundy Canyon. This part of the Hoover Wilderness is non quota, meaning a permit will be issued to everyone requesting a permit.

Permits are available on recreation.gov best season for hiking and backpacking is typically Late June through October or until the Snow falls in the fall. Depending on the snow season access can be found both earlier in June or as late as July because of high Sierra snowpack’s in these canyons.

Visiting Hoover wilderness never disappoints. The rugged ness of the terrain matched with the sweeping meadows and high canyon cliff make this wilderness area a prize to behold for all that visit ~ Charlie Pankey – Publisher Sierra Rec Magazine

Featured Areas in the Hoover Wilderness

shamrock Lake- 20 lakes basin
20 Lakes basin

20 Lakes Basin

20 Lakes basin is located off of Tioga Pass Just east of Yosemite National Park and MT. Conness. A rugged granite bowl that features multiple lakes great for fishing and day hiking and backpacking connecting together in a string of lakes that empties into the Lundy canyon to the East. here you will see the transformation of Yosemite granite to sediment rock mixed with various colors and consistency. You will be hard pressed to find clear pools of water anywhere and the lakes are so clear that fisherman can often spot their dream catch some 20 feet under water. This is a popular place for fishing and hiking and the offers open air backpacking with little to no tree cover. Recommended June-Oct. early Season mosquitos can be quite troublesome here.

Lundy-Canyon
Lundy Canyon

Lundy Canyon

Lundy Canyon is located 5 miles off HWY 395 just north of Lee Vining. featuring a popular spot for lake camping and fishing the Hoover Wilderness starts less than a mile from the trailhead and features beaver dams, incredible skylines and one of the Eastern Sierra largest Aspen groves making this a must see in any fall adventure. At the end of the canyon the water cascades over 100 feet off the cliff above which leads into 20 lakes basin.

Frog Lake Virginia Lakes Basin California
Frog Lake Virginia Lakes Basin California

Virginia Lakes Basin

This canyon is popular for day fishing and backpacking into the Eastern side of Yosemite National Park just North of McCabe Lakes at summit Lake and down into Return Creek basin. It also connects with the northern Green Lakes basin for a great through hike backpacking and fishing trip. This rugged and steep canyon is filled with old mining relics and backcountry trapper cabin highlights. But the real beauty is in the multiple lake options on the trail.

Green Lakes Basin

Green Lakes basin is a popular day hike region with plenty of camping options before the trail head and then one of the regions best color hike areas or fall hike sin the aspen trees. The trial into Hoover wilderness and green lakes basin is well traveled and traverses up to Green Lake before giving backpackers and fisherman the option of going North to an exclusive lake getaway high above or heading South to a chain of lakes that leads again up to Summit Lake and the possibility for heading down into Virginia lakes basin as a loop. If you like forest and lake camping this route is perfect for Hammock camping and tent camping.

Twin lakes Bridgeport ca
Twin Lakes Bridgeport ca

Twin Lakes Basin –

Probably the most popular of all the Hoover Wilderness Lake basin entry points. The twin Lakes basin is a regional favorite for summer and fall camping and the trail into the Hoover wilderness leads up to Peeler lake and the north side of Yosemite National park.

Leavitt Meadow Basin

Exploring near Leavitt meadows gives travelers on Sonora Pass Scenic Route 108 or travelers off HWY 395 great access to the northern section of the Hoover wilderness. Home of the walker river and multiple fishing and backpacking lakes the hoover wilderness access here is probably the easiest as far as beginning level terrain for the first 3-4 miles of access. a popular location for horseback rides, backcountry fishing and summer day hiking. From here backpackers can also find routes that connect up with the PCT and back into North Yosemite National Park


Backpacking Basics for Hoover Wilderness

Wilderness Permits are required for overnight visits. Reservations are unnecessary for entering via Saddlebag Lake, Lakes Canyon, or Lundy Canyon. This part of the Hoover Wilderness is non quota, meaning a permit will be issued to everyone requesting a permit.

Hoover Wilderness:

  • No Campfires in 20 Lakes Basin north of Saddlebag Lake.
  • No Camping at Crystal Lake, or Hall Natural Area (includes Conness Lakes, Wasco, Alpine, Green Treble, Maul, Spuller, Big Horn, and Fantail Lakes).  
  • No Swimming or Wading in Crystal Lake.
  • Advised not to use pack goats in Bighorn Sheep habitat.

In addition to all county, state, and federal laws, the following rules apply in wilderness:

  • No Camping within 100 feet of lakes, streams or trails (terrain permitting) & never within 50 feet of lakes, streams or trails.
  • Food or refuse must be stored in a container designed to prevent access by bears, or counter-balanced at least 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet horizontally from a tree trunk (containers required in Yosemite).
  • No washing in lakes or streams. Scatter wash water at least 100 feet away from lakes or streams.
  • Bury poop 6-8 inched deep, at least 100 feet away from lakes, streams, campsites or trails.
  • Pack out all trash.
  • Maximum group size is 15 people, Yosemite has smaller group size.
  • No catching supplies or leaving equipment unattended for more than 24 hours.
  • No hitching, tethering or tying pack or saddle stock within 100 feet of lakes, streams, trails or campsites except while loading or unloading.
  • Overnight use requires a valid wilderness permit.
  • No discharging a firearm, except for emergencies or the taking of game as permitted by California State law.
  • No wheeled or mechanical devices (bicycle, drone, motorcycle, cart, etc.) except for persons requiring a wheelchair may use non-motorized wheelchair.
  • No shortcutting a switchback.
  • Dogs must be on leash (under voice control within 6 feet).
  • Motorized or mechanical activities like drones or bicycles are not allowed in wilderness.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles when selecting a wilderness campsite. Groups are limited to 15 people or less, in order to preserve the solitude and tranquility of the backcountry.

Sierra Rec Staff Hoover Wilderness Reviews

Exploring Green Lakes

Discover Lundy Canyon

20 Lakes Basin – Hoover Wilderness

Top 6 Bridgeport Day Hiking Trails & Destinations

Three Days in the Hoover Wilderness- A great beginners backpack trip out of Leavitt Meadow

Hire A Pack Guide Out Of Leavitt’s Meadow And Enjoy The Backcountry

10 Great Day Hikes in the Hoover Wilderness

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