No campfires at Fern, Anona, Ashley, Holcomb or Beck Lakes; and no campfires above 10,000 feet. Bear-resistant food storage containers are required. All regulations for Ansel Adams Wilderness apply.
I would rate this route as Intermediate/Difficult except that beyond Fern Lake, it is unmaintained and requires route finding skills. Fern Lake is only about 0.3 miles from the King Creek Trail
. It has good campsites and a beach on the south side. No campfires are allowed.
The old trail runs a little above the north shore of the lake and then gradually climbs the ridge to a small pond. The trail was clearly visible, but, in the places just above the lake, where it passed through low bushes, it was so overgrown that I found it easier to climb above the bushes and find my own way to the top of the ridge. The climb is only moderately steep and it provides a good view of Fern Lake.
The ridge is mostly open metamorphic rock. Trees and even the bushes are fairly scattered. Head towards the pond and around its west side. Then hike west over the low, rounded ridge to where you can see Anona Lake. The old trail crosses the stream about 0.25 miles from the lake and goes to the north shore.
The lake is surrounded in three sides by steep, rocky cliffs. It is very shallow and may dry up later in the summer. When I was there, it was partially iced over and had a dozen small streams cascading down from the snow melt. The snow at the back of the lake used to be permanent, but with climate change, I'm not sure if that is still true.
The stream down from Anona Lake runs in a narrow canyon. It is possible to hike down to the King Trail via the steep ridge south of the canyon, but it is safest to return the way you came.
Based on the topological map and Google Earth, it looks like it would not be difficult to hike off-trail from Anona Lake up to Gertrude Lake and then over to Ashley Lake, but I did not go that way.