Add Vandeburg and Lady Lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness to your dayhike list

The trail climbs toward Vandeburg Lake framed by views of the distant Ritter Range.
The trail climbs toward Vandeburg Lake framed by views of the distant Ritter Range. Special to the Sierra Star

As the days lengthen and snow from the latest storm melts, planning for summer hikes begins in earnest. Here is one to add to your list: Lady Lake was our destination following a route which took us past Vandeburg Lake (also called Vanderburgh on the Sierra National Forest map) the last week of September last year.

The warmth of the day belied the fact that the mountains all around us and even portions of the trail had been frosted with snow a number of days before our arrival.

This was the second hike of the season beginning at the Norris Creek Trailhead off Beasore Road on 5S86, a spur road to the left just past Globe Rock.

Lady and Vandeburg lakes are part of a group called the Madera Lakes.

The trail winds through forest but also climbs a number of switchbacks. An attempt had been made previously by two in our group, Betsy Blum and Scarlett Bullock, to hike to Lady Lake but a missed trail junction and fading daylight in mid-July that year forced them to turn back before reaching their destination.

Lunch was eaten at Vandeburg Lake at an elevation of 8,648 feet and included a view of 10,509-foot Madera Peak. Debbie Sebastian Special to the Sierra Star

Today, the group decided to take a lunch break at Vandeburg Lake. Cindy Hutchison, Nancy Baker, Betsy and Mark Blum, Scarlett Bullock and Chris Hartesveldt perched like an orderly flock of shore birds side by side on a lakeside log to enjoy the view of mountain peaks and lake reflections. A fish swam up near us in very shallow water – I think laughing at us because it knew we brought no fishing gear.

Then it was on to Lady Lake. As we approached the lake, voices alerted us to the fact that we were not alone in the wilderness. A group of students from a Bay Area school with fully loaded packs was coming toward us.

Scarlett Bullock takes a moment to savor a view of Lady Lake at 8,908 feet. Debbie Sebastian Special to the Sierra Star

Lady Lake, 0.7 of a mile east-northeast of Madera Peak, is now in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, managed by the Sierra National Forest and the National Park Service, but it was within Yosemite National Park from 1890 to 1905, according to “Yosemite Place Names” by Peter Browning.

We only had time to explore a bit of the shoreline as we were cognizant of the shortened daylight that comes with September and it was approaching 3 p.m. We had read about a smaller lake slightly above Lady Lake but that will have to be explored another day.

This hike may be expanded to a lengthier day hike or backpack trip by adding the loop trail to Lillian Lake which can also include Chittenden, Staniford and Shirley lakes.

Our round-trip hike was about 12 miles.