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Kendrick Canyon Lakes

 5.0 (1)

This is a cross-country route up a major glacier-carved canyon to spectacular polished-granite bound lakes.

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6,510' 1,984 m


5,562' 1,695 m


507' 154 m


1,199' 365 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (13°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


Yosemite National Park has 3 long, glacier-carved canyons: Yosemite/Tenaya, Hetch Hetchy, and Kendrick Canyon. Kendrick is relatively unknown because there are no trails into the canyon and no trails that even provide an overlook. It has the same polished granite walls as the other two, but it does not have the high waterfalls and vertical cliffs. Nevertheless, Kendrick Canyon and its lakes are spectacular. At less than 6,000 feet, I believe these are the lowest and warmest natural, glacier-carved lakes in the Sierras.

This entirely off-trail route starts from the northwest corner of Laurel Lake. Run north through the trees over a slight rise and then make a small descent to pass between two lily-covered lakes (no rest point here). You'll soon come out of the trees and onto a polished granite slope (good views of Lake Eleanor) that leads down to the very pleasant Lake 5,968, which is a good rest point. There are some cairns, but they bypass the lake and are hard to follow.

Run around the swampy trees on the east side of Lake 5,968 to the first good crossing point. From there, make a slight climb on the rocks to pass through a low gap on the ridge overlooking Kendrick Canyon. Descend down to a wide flat area that runs northeast. This part has a small amount of bushwhacking, but it mostly seems like an incredibly beautiful "walk in the park". Near the end, there is one side canyon to cross.

Once across, climb back up (or stay up) on the rocks above the woodsy creek that heads northeast down to Kendrick Creek. From above and a little before the point where the stream from the first Kendrick Lake enters Kendrick Creek, make a steep, brushy climb down (less than 100 feet) and cross Kendrick Creek.

Once across, work your way out of the trees and climb the granite, staying near, but above the cliff that goes down to Kendrick Creek. Some cairns mark the route. After passing around the first small dome, there is an easy descent to Lake 5683, which is almost entirely bound by smooth rock. Climb up to a shelf along the west side of the highest dome and drop down between Lakes 5810 and 5747. Both are spectacular, warm, and have great camping.

Below, on Kendrick Creek, Lake 5728 is shallow and swampy.

Up the canyon, Edyth Lake is one of the most isolated and spectacular lakes in the Sierra. However, reaching it requires pushing through tall, difficult brush and some rock climbing skills. With smooth granite, even an 8 foot cliff is impossible for many of us.

Flora & Fauna

I have been here twice and I once passed a very upset rattlesnake with the loudest rattle I've ever heard—so be aware.


Land Manager: NPS - Yosemite

Shared By:

Lee Watts

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote


in Hetch Hetchy


  5.0 from 1 vote
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in Hetch Hetchy


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17 Views Last Month
611 Since Oct 2, 2017



Spectacular Lake 5774. From here it does not look difficult to climb up the canyon towards Edith Lake, but with polished granite even an 8 foot cliff can stop non-rock climbers and avoiding cliffs leads to thick, deep brush.
Oct 2, 2017 near Twain H…, CA
Lake 5810. A beautiful rock-bound lake that has great camping and relatively warm water for swimming.
Oct 2, 2017 near Twain H…, CA
Kendrick Canyon Overlook: about 0.5 miles from Laurel Lake. Kendrick Lakes are on the ledge between the tree branches in the right center. Nance Peak is on the right
Oct 2, 2017 near Twain H…, CA
Lake 5683, beautiful, but better camping a short distance away at Lake 5810.
Oct 3, 2017 near Twain H…, CA
Lake 5968: A pleasant resting spot as you descend into Kendrick Canyon.
Oct 2, 2017 near Twain H…, CA



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