2 days, 1 night
*clicking the map of the hike will take you to my Garmin Page where you can find an interactive map. Garmin users can also download the course to their GPS devices.
Twin Lakes to Peeler Lake
Hiking from Twin Lakes to Peeler Lake is the perfect overnight hike to get up into the high country and enter the boundaries of Northern Yosemite National Park. If you have more than one night to spend, you can also turn this into a multi-day trip by hiking down into Kerrick Meadows from Peeler Lake and then making a loop around Crown Point and back to a junction with the trail you hiked in on. My intentions were to complete the Crown Point Loop when I went here in the summer of 2014, but unfortunately, I woke up on the second day engulfed in thick smoke. The smoke was so thick that you could only make out the silhouette of Crown Point from across Peeler Lake. Wanting to save my lungs and having no idea how long this would last, my hiking partner and I decided to hike out and back to the car.
To go on this hike, you'll need to obtain permits from the Ranger Station in Bridgeport. The great thing is that they are easy to get, especially if you arrive at the Ranger Station when they open. In fact, you can get permits for just about anywhere in the Hoover Wilderness if you get to the Ranger Station early. We were coming from Sacramento, so we left the night before and camped in a campground along Highway 395 near the Walker River. From here it was a short drive to be at the Ranger Station in Bridgeport by 8 am. There are many campgrounds near Bridgeport, so if you'd prefer to go the night before to make it easier getting to the Ranger Station when they open, you should be able to find a spot. For information on the Hoover Wilderness and how to get permits, click here. For information on campgrounds go to www.recreation.gov or www.reserveamerica.com.
Once you've got your permit, you'll leave the Ranger Station and head North on Highway 395 through Bridgeport. As you near the gas stations on the northern end of Bridgeport, you'll see a turn on your left for Twin Lakes. Turn left here and follow the road all the way to the Twin Lakes Resort. Make sure you bring some cash because when I went it cost $10 for overnight parking at the resort and there are no other options for parking once you are out this far. From the overnight parking lot ask for directions to the trailhead or follow the road through the campground all the way to the back end of the campground. The signs will say either Barney Lake or Peeler Lake; both are in the right direction.
The beginning of the trail will lead through a combination of mixed forest and exposed high desert terrain that can be hot if you get a late start. After a few miles, you'll be able to look to your left and see Little Slide Canyon and the "Incredible Hulk" a rock formation that is popular with rock climbers (below left). Once you've gone 3.9 miles from Twin Lakes Resort, you'll arrive at Barney Lake. This end of Barney Lake is usually kind of busy because of the lovely sandy beach. Feel free to stop here and cool down with a quick swim or eat some lunch. After your break, continue along the trail up the right side of Barney Lake. From here you'll get your first views of Crown Point and the beautiful wetlands on the other end of Barney Lake (below right).
As you are hiking past Barney Lake, you can see the route you'll be taking to the bench on the left of Cirque Mountain (above right, Cirque Mountain is the peak on the right of the photo).
Keep following the trail past Barney Lake and it's meadow until you get to a wide creek crossing (below left). Cross here and then the difficult ascent begins up toward Peeler Lake. Luckily we went on a dry year, and the crossing was easy, but in times of heavy water flow or wet years, this could be a much harder crossing.
About 2.8 miles after you stopped at Barney Lake you'll reach another trail junction. Please note, if you are planning on completing the entire Crown Point Loop, this is where your loop will re-connect on the way back to Twin Lakes. To reach Peeler Lake, stay to your right and continue for another mile to until you hit the East Shore of Peeler Lake.
Once you've reached Peeler Lake, I recommend hiking all the way around the lake to the West Shore. Along the way, you'll pass some popular and highly used campsites. Once you get to the West Shore take a look back across the lake and take in the views of Crown Point on the other side of the lake (below middle). A short distance on the trail from here and you'll reach the boundary of Yosemite National Park (below right).
I'd recommend looking for campsites near the gentle creek flowing out of Peeler Lake (below top left). This way you'll have the soothing sounds of the stream lulling you to sleep at night. Once you have camp setup (below top right), take some time exploring the area. There are little ponds and streams all over the place. Some of them even with great views of Crown Point (below bottom).
As I was mentioning earlier, there was a fire that had recently started in Yosemite National Park, and although it would cut our trip short, it made for one of the most incredible sunsets I'd seen. I took tons of pictures of it, and those images ended up becoming some of the first HDR images I made that inspired me to build this site (see below)
Unless you are planning on completing the Crown Point Loop, day 2 is just turning around and heading back the way you came. If you were intending on completing the Crown Point Loop, keep following the trail you came in on down along the creek towards Kerrick Meadow until you hit the junction for Rock Island Pass. Once you begin up Rock Island Pass, the trail will loop you back around Crown Point and back towards Twin Lakes but will add about 8.5 additional miles to the total distance.
When you get back to your car, drive back into Bridgeport and try the Burger Barn. Their Pastrami Burger goes great with a cold beer after a long hike. I usually have an ice chest with cold beer waiting in the car after overnighters, but there are places to get beer in Bridgeport if you don't bring any.