Photo of Conness Lake, Mono County, CA

Conness Lakes - Mono County

Photo of Mt. Conness and Conness Lakes area, Mono County, CA

Mt. Conness

The spectacular Conness Lakes are clustered at the base of Mount Conness just beyond the eastern boundary of Yosemite National Park. With a short water taxi ride across Saddlebag Lake and a 1.3-mile hike, you arrive at the lowest of the three Conness Lakes where you will likely find the best fishing. Numerous other lakes are sprinkled about the area in 20 Lakes Basin which offer great fishing too.


In My Creel

  • Rooster Tail
  • Mepp's Syclops
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Bird's Nest
  • #16 Soft Hackle
  • #16 Olive Scud

Not knowing what to expect, I packed a variety of spoons, spinners, and flies with me for my fishing trip to the Conness Lakes



Getting to the Conness Lakes

To reach Conness Lakes from Yosemite National Park follow Highway 120 over Tioga Pass. Just a little more than two miles east of the entrance gate you reach the turnoff to Saddlebag Lake, a popular fishing destination. The 2.4 miles road to Saddlebag Lake is paved in portions and gravel in other parts. Approaching from the east, take Highway 395 just south of Lee Vining turn west on Highway 120 and drive about 10 miles to the Saddlebag Lake turnoff.

Photo of Lower Conness Lakes, Mono County, CA

Lower Conness Lake

Saddlebag Lake Resort offers a small cafe, a store, boat rentals and, for about $11, a round-trip water taxi ride to the opposite end of the lake. (summer cafe/store hours, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM; taxi, 7-5; no credit cards) Although you could hike the 1.5 miles around Saddlebag on your way to Conness Lakes, taking the taxi is quicker and more enjoyable.

From where the water taxi drops you off at the upper end of Saddlebag Lake to the cluster of Conness Lakes is pretty much a cross-country trip, but various pieces of an old, neglected trail (shown on our map) can be picked up along the way. A map and compass and familiarity with cross-country travel in the mountains are recommended. Hike past Greenstone Lake, or stop to try a little fishing if the mood strikes you. There is a great article by John Parmenter on fly fishing Greenstone Lake in the February 2011 issue of California Fly Fisher magazine.

The final approach to the Conness Lakes is best made by following a crude trail along the north side of the valley. This part of the trail up to Conness Lakes is somewhat strenuous and requires agile feet. If you would rather stay on more established trails, take the 20 Lakes Basin loop and choose among the easily accessible lakes there such as Z Lake, Steelhead Lake, Shamrock Lake, Odell Lake, and Hummingbird Lake.

Photo of Upper Conness Lake, Mono County, CA

Upper Conness Lake

Accommodations and Supplies

Conness Lakes fall within the boundaries of the Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area. No fires or overnight camping are allowed within the Research Natural Area. Signs have recently been erected at Conness Lakes which indicate no overnight camping. Backpackers can seek out great campsites in the Twenty Lakes Basin north of Saddlebag Lake. Be aware that the Twenty Lakes Basin is part of the Hoover Wilderness. Wilderness permits and bear canisters are required.

No lodging is available at Saddlebag Lake Resort, but lodging can be found at nearby Tioga Pass Resort. There is also plenty of lodging in Lee Vining or south on Highway 395 at June Lake and a little farther in Mammoth Lakes.

Saddlebag Lake Campground is close to the resort and another campground is situated along the road leading into the lake. Campgrounds can also be found at Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake, and lower down along Lee Vining Creek.

California's Best Camping logo

To find the very best campgrounds in the area and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.

Fishing supplies can be purchased at several nearby locations.


Recommended Books for Conness Lakes and Nearby Lakes and Streams




Photo of Lower Conness Lake, Mono County, Ca

Lower Conness Lake


Nearby Featured Trip in Mono County