Commonly Backpacked · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Beautiful High Sierra Lakes with relatively warm camping.
Wilderness Permits required. Trailhead quotas are (reserved-walking): Norris (6-4), Fernandez (13-8), Walton (5-4). Reservation fee is $5.00 per person, but walk-in permits are free. They can be obtained at the Bass Lake Ranger station in North Fork or the High Sierra Ranger station in Prather.
Rutherford and Anne Lakes are only about eight miles from the Fernandez Trailhead, about three miles from the junction with the Lillian Lake Loop
, and only 4.5 miles from Lillian Lake itself. Rutherford may be the most beautiful of all of the many lakes on this western edge of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. It is a little rugged and exposed for camping, but the nearby Anne Lake, which is only a little lower, is much more sheltered and has great campsites. These lakes are a prime destination in themselves, or if you have a base camp at Lillian Lake, they are well worth a hike.
Need to Know
All rules for the Ansel Adams Wilderness apply. A trail sign said that no campfires were allowed at either lake. However, this seemed to have been ignored, as I saw fire rings with freshly burnt wood.
From the Fernandez Pass Trail, it is just over 200 yards up to a flat area where there is a sign marking the trail split. Taking the branch to the left, you'll reach Rutherford Lake in 0.2 miles. This lake is at an elevation of 9,730 feet. Unlike other lakes that I visited, which were 500 to 1,000 feet lower, I had no problems with snow on the trail to the lake, but snow drifts did make it harder to get around the rugged lakeshore.
Back at the trail split, continue straight ahead to go to Anne Lake. The trail winds across an almost flat area, until it finds a 10-20 foot wide shelf that runs along the top of a 200-foot cliff, heading straight towards Anne Lake. For the last 200 yards, the trail makes a fairly steep 100-foot drop down to the lake.
Anne Lake is shallow with rocky cliffs above on the west side. It is surrounded by trees and has a flat shoreline that makes it easy to hike around and that provides numerous good campsites. I could hear the stream coming down from Rutherford Lake, but I wasn't able to see it from the eastern shore. Anne is only 200 lower than Rutherford, but it is sheltered and much warmer. However, when I was there near the end of the snow melt, it also had more mosquitoes.
Shared By: Lee Watts