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11 paved miles out of Bridgeport, two placid high-mountain lakes.

The steep ace of the eastern Sierra near Bridgeport is crinkled with deep ridges and ribboned with streams. Northeast of Yosemite National Park, five creeks race down from Sawtooth Ridge, meeting in a canyon and forming the two kidney-bean-shaped Twin Lakes.

The area is noted for fishing. You'll also find campgrounds, good day-hiking, and trails heading into the Hoover Wilderness. Bridgeport is about 83 miles north of Bishop on U.S. Highway 395.

July through Labor Day is the best time to visit. Trails are free of snow and days are warm, but you should come prepared for sudden cold snaps and showers that typify high mountain weather. Hiking terrain is challenging; trails rise steeply, and in spots are spread with talus.

Sitting nearly 7,000 feet, the two placid lakes both have rainbow and German brown trout (the state-record brown, at 26 pounds 5 ounces, was taken here last summer). Anglers know nearby Robinson Creek for its big browns, especially in fall and spring. A state fishing license is required.

At Lower Twin Lake, you can rent rowboats ($10 for 4 hours) and 12-foot motorboats ($16 for 4 hours). At Upper Twin Lake, 16-foot motorboats rent for $12 to $15 per half-day; there are a small cafe, grocery, outdoor supply store, and a crowded RV park (hookups $6 to $10).

From the Upper Twin Lake area, several trails lead up mountain passes. One easy 1-1/2-mile hike takes you to Horsetail Falls. From Mono Village at the north end of Upper Twin Lake, the trail crosses Robinson and Horse Creeks, then switchbacks up the mountain to the steep, boulder-filled cascade of the falls. If you like, continue another mile to Cattle Creek and back around to Lower Twin Lake.

The 4-mile trail to Barney Lake climbs steadily, following Robinson Creek through cottonwood and aspen groves, then up through pine forest to the jewel-like tarn.

Backpackers heading into the Hoover Wilderness can take the Barney Lake Trail, or the more challenging Horse Creek Trail (also out of Mono Village) which climbs to Sawtooth Ridge and along Matterhorn Peak 8 miles to Yosemite National Park. Back-country permits are required for overnight hikes into the wilderness; you can get one at the U.S. Forest Service information office on U.S. 395, just south of Bridgeport. Hours are 7:45 to 4:30 daily; call (619) 932-7070.

Three main campgrounds have 72 sites (52 more at new Robinson Creek campground are due to open July 1). Sites are available on a first-come basis. Fee is $5 per night ($7 at Robinson). Lakeside sites fill early; check availability with the Forest Service.

The lakes are 11 miles southwest of Bridgeport. From the north end of town, take the paved Twin Lakes Road.
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Title Annotation:Twin Lake
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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