Paddling Mono Lake / June Lake Loop, CA?

This is really a follow-up on another post I made that kind of died out.

I am very interested in doing a short overnight paddling trip this month in the Yosemite area. Someone mentioned Mono Lake and the June Lake Loop, but have some questions for anyone out there who might have paddled them.

-can you do backcountry camping along them? I would plan to do an overnight trip and camp along the shore, not in a campground.

-Is the June Lake Loop a series of connected lakes, a series of lakes requiring a short portage, or would have have to drive to get from one to the other? Sounds like this might make an interesting trip for an overnight paddle if I could do it without having to drive/shuttle.

-are they both reasonably free from boat / beach goers? I would prefer a secluded paddle rather than having to battle it out with wave runners.

-any general feedback from anyone who has paddled these lakes???

thanks again


No Primative Camping At June Lakes
You have to stay in campsites at June Lakes, and reservations might be a good idea. The lakes are connected by streams that are not passable in a kayak.

You might be able to camp on the shore at Mono Lake, or maybe even on Paha Island. The shore is very marshy. You might need a permit. Mono Lake is very saline. I like to hit the showers after a day on that lake. It gets really windy in the afternoon.

I don’t think Tioga Pass (Highway 120) is open yet. I have not checked since last week. Sonora Pass (Highway 108) opened last week.

Either location would be a very long way for a short weekend from Monterey. The milage in the mountains is misleading. It can take several hours to cover 100 miles in the high country.

My suggestion for a long weekend would be to visit Yosemite Valley, cross over to the eastern side on Tioga Pass, pass by Mono Lake on northbound 395. Maybe visit Twin Lakes. Cross back over on Sonora Pass, and stop for a paddle on Lake Beardsley, and then head back.

I will be headed up there soon. I will post when I settle on plans

June Lake loop

I’m the guy who mentioned these lakes. Except for Gull and June, I’d rather not portage these, and it’s not possible to paddle from one to another. There are developed campgrounds around the lakes, but I’m not aware of any backcountry camping opportunities. You could certainly get away with camping at some sites around Mono, because it abuts lots of national forest land.

Please, don’t let that discourage you. You’ll find the lakes to offer great variety. Grant is open – high desert. The next lake, Silver, is beautiful, ringed wtih aspen and conifers. Gull is quite small, and June is somewhat developed, flanked by a small resort town. Just south of Mammoth Lakes is Convict Lake, sitting at 8,000 feet, it’s stunning. The upper lake is next to a beautiful aspen forest backed by granite walls. Crowley, a reservoir nearby, is large and flanked by public lands. All along this stretch of Hwy 395, gravel roads head out into the woods and sagebrush. They’re public, and most of the land is public. Primitive camping is where you find it.

Hot Creek, also nearby, contains hotsprings that are wonderful, although there’s often a bit of a crowd. There are ghosttowns and mining camps to explore, great wilderness trails and lakes-lakes-lakes. Just go. You’ll be glad you did.

So Many Places To Go
There are some many great places to go in the Sierras, it takes years to really explore. I spent every summer weekend on the other side the first few years I was in California.