Photo of Graveyard Lakes, Fresno County, CA

Graveyard Lakes

Ansel Adams Wilderness - Fresno County

Photo of Graveyard Lake, Fresno County, CA

Lower Graveyard Lake

Graveyard Lakes in Fresno County make a great Sierra destination for both fly fishing and spin casting. Situated at about 10,000' elevation, Graveyard Lakes have that High Sierra feeling while still being low enough to be well forested. The 8-mile hike to Graveyard Lakes climbs 2,200' feet, making it a perfect long-weekend backpacking fishing trip.

The cluster of Graveyard Lakes offers a variety of great fishing venues all within easy walking distance of a basecamp at the lowest of the lakes. You'll find fishing for Brook trout excellent in lower Graveyard Lake and fishing for larger Rainbows exhilarating in the upper lakes.


Making Your Way to Graveyard Lakes

Graveyard Lakes are in the Ansel Adams Wilderness north of Lake Thomas A. Edison. Because Graveyard Lakes are in a Wilderness Area, you will need to pick up a Wilderness Permit for overnight camping. It's best to do that at the Ranger Station in Prather, but permits can also be obtained at the High Sierra Ranger Station, about 8 miles from Lake Edison. During peak use times, it's wise to make a permit reservation.


In My Creel

  • #16 Black Gnat
  • #14 Adams
  • #14 Brown Elk Caddis
  • Moosetail Adams
  • #14 gray Sparkle Dun
  • #18 mosquito

For Graveyard Lakes I used my fly fishing rod and was landing fish pretty regularly. My best luck came from the flies listed above.



The drive to Lake Edison from the Fresno area takes about 3 hours. The second half of the drive, beyond Huntington Lake, winds up and over Kaiser Pass before dropping down to Lake Edison. Kaiser Pass is usually open by Memorial Day, but sometimes heavy snow keeps it closed longer. The paved road is narrow and steep in places. Be sure to fill up on gas in Prather or Shaver Lake before starting up the Kaiser Pass Road.

Photo of Graveyard Lake, Fresno County, CA

Upper Graveyard Lake

To reach the Graveyard Lakes trailhead follow the road around the western end of Lake Edison, passing Vermilion Valley Resort, and continuing to a trailhead parking area just a short distance beyond. The High Sierra Pack Station is located less than a mile farther along the road. Clear signs mark all the locations.

Following the Trail to Graveyard Lakes

The hike to Graveyard Lakes begins at the trailhead and for a little over a mile follows the contour of the mountainside along the northern shore of Lake Edison. Within a quarter mile you will pass the turnoff to Devil's Bathtub. Stay on the trail headed for Goodale Pass.

After a little more than a mile you will reach a trail junction. Take the left turn toward Goodale Pass. The other trail continues up to the head of Lake Edison and to Mono Creek. After making the turn you will begin the first of several steep climbs. At mile 4 you will level off in Graveyard Meadows where you get a mile of easy hiking. Then you climb again to Upper Graveyard Meadow (mile 7). There at a trail junction you wave good-bye to the Goodale Pass trail and turn left for Graveyard Lakes.

Photo of Graveyard Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA

Middle Graveyard Lake

The final steep climb delivers you to the shores of the lowest of the Graveyard Lakes. It offers the good camping sites along the shore to the left or by continuing on the trail along the east side of the lake. There are camping sites at the higher lakes, but they are above 10,000' where campfires are not permitted and where trees are sparse. I found my best fishing along the western shore of the lowest of the Graveyard Lakes.

Another option to backpacking with heavily laden packs the first day is to be packed in to Graveyard Lakes by the wranglers from the High Sierra Pack Station. You can have them drop your backpacks off at the lakes while you walk, saving you from carrying burdensome loads up the 8-mile trail and allowing you to bring along a few extras. Then after your days of fishing, you carry the lighter backpacks downhill to the trailhead, a much easier hike than coming uphill. Of course, the pack station also provides horses so that you could ride in with the packer, be dropped off, and then picked up again on a designated departure day.

Photo of small pyramid of rock in upper Graveyard Lake, Fresno County, CA

Accommodations and Supplies

Lodging is available at Vermilion Valley Resort located at the west end of Lake Edison, only a short distance from the trailhead. The friendly people there offer meals, showers, and simple motel rooms. The resort is a popular stopping place for backpackers on the John Muir Trail. Only a few miles away is Mono Hot Springs Resort which has cabins, a restaurant, and a store. More lodging, including vacation cabin rentals, can also be found at Huntington Lake or Shaver Lake.

Several campgrounds are located in the area: Vermilion Valley, Mono Creek, Mono Hot Springs, Ward Lake, Jackass Meadow, and Bolsillo. Others are found along the way back to Huntington Lake.

logo saying California's Greatest Lakes

For more information about camping, lodging, boating, and fishing at Shaver Lake (and Huntington Lake), see California's Greatest Lakes coverage of Shaver Lake.

On your way to Graveyard Lakes you can pick up fishing supplies at


Recommended Books for Fishing in the John Muir Wilderness




Sidetrips

From your camp at the lowest of the Graveyard Lakes, a great fishing day-trip is to follow the trail along the east side of the lake up to the higher lakes. A whole string of lakes await you, and I found my best fishing at the higher lakes.

Another possible fishing sidetrip would be to retrace your steps to the Goodale Pass trail and follow it up over its 11,000' crest and drop down on the other side to Papoose Lake, Chief Lake, and Lake of the Lone Indian. The hike from Graveyard Lakes to Papoose Lake is 4.5 miles.

A quick sidetrip might be to retrace your route down the trail past Upper Graveyard Meadow and then travel cross-country up to Shelf Lake. I confess, I have never been there, but reportedly the fishing is good for Brook trout. It's only 1.5 miles from the lowest of the Graveyard Lakes.

Photo of Graveyard Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Fresno County, CA

Lower Graveyard Lake



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