Trip Number: 12131A
Staff: Peter Elderon
- Enjoy spectacular views of Matterhorn Canyon
- Make camp in solitude at high alpine lakes, and take an afternoon dip
with views of the surrounding peaks
- Climb several definitive high alpine Sierra passes, and scramble up
Volunteer Peak (if you wish) on a layover day
- All meals and snacks from dinner on the first day to lunch on the last
- Cooking gear
- Bear canisters
Please note that the leader has changed from what was originally published. If you
have questions, please
The northeast section of Yosemite National Park and the adjacent Hoover Wilderness
areas boast rushing rivers, crashing waterfalls, deep glaciated canyons, and
abundant granite. It is also the least-visited area of Yosemite. The only other
visitors we'll encounter are those who venture there on foot or horseback. In
addition to the peace and serenity of the wilderness and vast, spectacular views,
we will be able to appreciate wildflowers, jagged peaks, stunning lakes, and
native wildlife, including birds. We will hike 49 miles, with camp elevations
ranging from 7,000 feet to over 9,000 feet.
Photo: Brian Cook
Day 1: Our ten-day trip begins at a trailhead campground near
Twin Lakes. We will meet there at 5 p.m. to get acquainted and review the practices
we will follow while in the wilderness.
Day 2: We'll rise early, have breakfast, distribute group
gear, and then drive to the trailhead. We'll head west on the Barney Lake Trail
until we reach beautiful Peeler Lake, where we will camp for the night. This
will be our most challenging hiking day as we climb over 2,900 feet with full
Day 3: The elevation gain will not be so great today as we
leave Hoover Wilderness and journey into Yosemite National Park. Once in Yosemite,
we will head south along Rancheria Creek and stroll through beautiful Kerrick
Meadow before hiking a short distance off-trail to camp at another pretty lake,
Day 4: As we leave Arndt Lake, we'll ascend approximately
400 feet to cross Seavey Pass. Next we will descend nearly 2,000 feet until
we reach the remote and picturesque Benson Lake. Benson Lake's large sandy beach
is the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon swim. This is a short hiking day,
leaving time to explore, relax or contemplate the surrounding splendor.
Day 5: We leave Benson Lake and climb over 2,000 feet to reach
our layover destination, Smedberg Lake. This spot has wonderful perches to pitch
a tent, enjoy the views, and sunbathe after swimming.
Photo: Brian Cook
Day 6: Smedberg Lake offers numerous layover-day options to
please those who would like to fish, relax, or day hike in the area, including
the challenging and rewarding hike up Volunteer Peak, which towers over Smedberg
Lake at 10,479 feet.
Day 7: Refreshed from our layover day, we climb over 10,139-foot
Benson Pass and then down into Matterhorn Canyon where we camp for the night.
Day 8: We head north over Burro Pass (10,560 feet), where
we are rewarded with spectacular views of the Matterhorn and Piute Creek canyons.
The jagged peaks of the Sawtooth Ridge will impress us with their full splendor.
After admiring the views, we will descend to upper Piute Creek to make camp
for the night.
Day 9: We leave upper Piute Creek and climb 1,100 feet to
Mule Pass. After we take in the views from Mule Pass, we'll descend over 1,000
feet to our camp at Crown Lake.
Day 10: On our final day, we depart from Crown Lake and rejoin
the Barney Lake trail, heading out to our exit point at Twin Lakes. We will
descend over 2,600 feet.
The Twin Lakes Trailhead is 14 miles southwest of Bridgeport on the Twin Lakes
Road. Bridgeport is on Highway 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.
The closest major airport to Bridgeport is in Reno (115 miles), but other available
airports are in Fresno (190 miles), Sacramento (200 miles), and San Francisco
(240 miles). A group roster will be provided before the trip to assist trip
members who want to share rides to Twin Lakes.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Brian Cook
We will offer a variety of food with lots of flavor, calories, and nutrition.
We can accommodate vegetarian participants. Cooking and clean-up responsibilities
will be shared by all trip participants on a rotating basis.
This trip is rated 3 on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 denotes the least difficult
and 5 the most difficult. The trip is intended for experienced backpackers.
We will encounter significant elevation gains and losses. You must have the
ability to hike at high altitude with a backpack weighing as much as 45 pounds.
As with any backpack trip in the Sierra, good conditioning is essential. It
is essential to exercise year-round to maintain good physical condition. In
addition, in the spring of 2012 you should begin taking some weekend hikes with
a loaded pack, if possible, at elevation.
Overall, we will travel about 49 miles, almost entirely on-trail. Our trip
includes three days where we climb more than 2,000 feet. Additionally, we cross
four passes and camp at six campsites over 9,000 feet. Each day, except the
layover day, we will hike between three and nine miles. We intend to take one
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Brian Cook
A detailed equipment list will be sent to all participants. It is important
that your equipment be sturdy, lightweight, and in good condition. Your personal
gear should weigh no more than 25 pounds when you arrive at the trailhead. We
will weigh your personal equipment before starting up the trail.
We will provide all food and cooking equipment. Each participant will be given
a commissary bag (containing group food, cooking gear, etc.), which will add
an additional 15-20 pounds to your pack. Some of the group equipment is relatively
bulky, particularly pot sets and bear cannisters. Your pack should be sufficiently
large to carry an item about the size of a full paper grocery bag in addition
to your personal gear.
Although summers in the Sierras are generally mild, you must be prepared for
rain and cold. This means you need waterproof jacket, pants, and tent. Boots
are equally important. Your boots should be sturdy and broken in.
- Three USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles: Buckeye Ridge, Matterhorn Peak, and Piute
- National Geographic, Trails Illustrated Map, Yosemite National Park, USA.
- Morey, Kathy, Sierra North. Wilderness Press, 1997. An excellent
description of the entire trip.
- Secor, R.J., The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails. The Mountaineers
Books. Provides a good description of the passes and peaks along our route.
Photo: Brian Cook
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater
understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club. Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Yosemite National Park and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
Yosemite National Park is one of the grandest national parks and also one of
the most frequently visited. The Sierra Club has played a major part in expanding
and protecting this national treasure. Frequent visitation brings increased
challenges in protecting habitat and resources, however. Some areas in Yosemite
National Park and the Hoover Wilderness suffer from overuse resulting in damage
to their fragile ecosystem. We will devote time during our trip to discussing
public lands and wilderness protection, and we'll talk about the challenges
of balancing access and preserving wilderness.
On our trip we will follow Leave No Trace principles.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Peter "Fats" Elderon first backpacked in the granite state of New Hampshire, but loves the granite of the Sierra Nevada even more. He was an assistant leader on National trips in the early 80s, but forsook backpacking while raising two daughters (with his wife, whom he met in Sequoia National Park). In the last six years, he has returned to backpacking in the Sierra Nevada for several weeks every summer and loves to share his enthusiasm for Muir's mountains with all fellow hikers.
Bill Flower was born in the East but moved with his family to Arizona when he was ten. Bill took his first backpack trip, in the Grand Canyon, when he was eleven and his first trip in the Sierra Nevada when he was twelve. He has been hiking in California and the West, as well as in other parts of the world, ever since. A real highlight of his summer for some twenty years has been participating in Sierra Club National Outing trips, both as a trip member and as a leader.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips