Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hike To Potter Pass And Twin Lakes From Kaiser Pass Road

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge
Hike Route
This hike is about 9 miles total out and back with about 1,500’ of elevation gain. The trailhead elevation is about 8,300’, Potter Pass about 9,000’ and Twin Lakes about 8,600’.

Additional information can be found on an earlier posting on Potter Pass here: There are established campsites available at the lakes for overnight. Wilderness permits are required and available where Kaiser Pass Road leaves Highway 168.

It was a cool morning beginning to the hike with a starting temperature of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The trailhead is across Kaiser Pass Road from the parking area and bathrooms at Badger Flat. I was surprised to run into a patch of snow only about 50 feet from the beginning of the trail.

There is 800’ of civilized climb to Potter Pass in about 2.5 miles. Once you crest the trail at Potter Pass, there is a grand view of the Sierra Nevada to the east about 25 miles as the crow flies.

I did not have bug spray with me and was glad the mosquitoes were not around. This time of year there are several crossings of seasonal creeks. There were places on the trail covered by deep snow for hundreds of feet but plenty of folks have already done this hike and it was simply a matter of following the dirty footprints over the snow.

As you continue to climb you will see Huntington Lake below and the China Peak ski runs across the lake. You can also see China Peak if you look behind you. Once you reach the pass a grand view will open up to the east. You then begin to descend toward the lakes. Pay attention to the sign at the creek crossing. There is an intermittent view of the Sierra along the way and at one point you can see Mammoth Mountain Ski area with the cable buildings on top.

I seem to get an earlier start than most and as I turned and headed back from Upper Twin Lake, others were coming toward me on the trail. My wife and courageous others I have hiked with before take a break by swimming to the island on Upper Twin Lake. It is possible to continue on to George Lake (about 9.100’) beyond and above Upper Twin Lake. It is the prettiest of the three lakes. It sits below Kaiser Peak and makes for a longer and more difficult hike.

The hard part of the hike is the climb back up to Potter Pass after you pass Lower Twin Lake. The rest of the hike back to the trailhead is downhill as they say.

This is one of my annual warm up hikes in preparation for backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains each summer.

China Peak Right Of Center

 Huntington Lake
 Potter Pass With View Of Banner Peak

 Kaiser Peak (10,300')

 Lower Twin Lake
 Upper Twin Lake

 Upper Twin Lake Outlet
 Mammoth Mountain

My second hike to Twin Lakes included wife Sharon and friends Carol and Mike.
I have added three photographs taken with my Sony RX1R at Upper Twin Lake.


  1. I love this hike! A 90 minute drive from Fresno and an easy 2.5 miles to a view of Mt. Banner and Mt. Ritter make this my number one day hike to see big Sierra peaks.

  2. Carol,
    Agreed. This hike fulfills both of my two hike criteria. It is a hike to a view and a lake if you go on to Twin Lakes also. If you only go to Potter Pass however, it is quite a view.