Author Topic: Hilton Creek Lakes  (Read 17845 times)

wshawkins

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Hilton Creek Lakes
« on: December 02, 2013, 10:28:34 AM »
I took a late season backpacking trip this year.  I decided to take advantage of the great weather we were having this fall season before the winter storms started kicking up.  I watched the weather closely and decided a Fri/Sat/Sun backpack trip to Hilton Creek Lakes in late October/early November weekend was do-able.  I just hoped the lakes were not frozen over as this was the latest I ever been taken a backpacking fishing trip.


Day 1


I actually came up late Thursday and stayed overnight at Tom’s Place at the lodge.  I’m one of those people that can get altitude sickness if I go up too quickly, so I have to take it easy the first day.  If you ever had it you know what I’m talking about. 


Tom’s Place Lodge



I looked around Rock Creek area and could not believe what a change it was from only a week ago.  They had a large wind storm blew through Mono County a few days prior that effectively ended the 2013 fall color viewing season.


Rock Creek Lake – fall color show over



Fished for a short time at Rock Creek Lake near the boat dock and C&R a couple nice rainbows


Rainbow



Rainbow



Went back to Tom’s Place and across the street to the café and had the Thursday’s Night Special - Prime Rib Dinner.  Rum!  There were quite a few locals in that night and after dinner, shared stories of our favorite honey holes in the Eastern Sierra over beers. 


Day 2


Next morning had my last civilized meal for a while at the café.  The café serves the best Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs.


Cafe



Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs



With my permit in hand, I drove to the trail head.  When I arrived at the hiker parking lot my truck was the only vehicle.  Never saw another person the whole trip until hiking out Sunday.  Weather was in the 50’s during days, and down to 19-22*F at night.  Very little wind and some ice around the lakes in the morning but melted off by noon or earlier.  Just Perfect!


Trailhead Sign





Next part of my Hilton Creek Lakes Trip Report coming up soon….

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2013, 12:33:32 PM »
Hilton Creek Lakes


Hilton Creek Lakes are about a two hour hike (4.5 miles to #2 Hilton Lake) from the trailhead near Rock Creek Lake.  Anglers flock to the Rock Creek area to fish the lakes scattered along Little Lakes Valley. Hilton Lakes offer a nice convenient alternative, where you can day hike into theses lakes or backpack and stay a while.
The 10 Hilton Lakes are all within 2 miles of each other along Hilton Creek, ranging in elevation from 9,800 foot Davis Lake to the alpine high #10 Hilton at 11,230 feet.  The first two Hilton Lakes are the most popular for both camping and fishing. The upper lakes are quieter and more secluded.


Hilton Lakes Trailhead



The trailhead to Hilton Lakes is on the Rock Creek road across from Rock Creek Lake and less than 1/4 mile below the Rock Creek Pack Station.  Roadside parking area is on the right and a restroom and information signs are on the left.  There is a shorter, alternate trail that starts across from the Pine Grove Campground, but it requires an additional 450 feet of climbing.  I do it for day hikes myself, but not for backpacking as it’s very steep and will just wear you out if you’re carrying a heavy load.


Carry plenty of water because after an early stream crossing there is no water until you reach Hilton Creek.  The trail is usually very dry and dusty most of the season but today I’m hiking through quite a bit of snow and ice from a recent storm. 


Snow & ice on trail



I would rate the hike to Hilton Lakes a moderate one.  Strenuous if your hiking up to the upper lakes.  The main trail climbs and dips slightly for the first two miles. The trail then begins a long sandy stretch to the top of a ridge, about 500 feet up in 1.5 miles.  Beyond, you give back everything you gained, descending to a trail junction on Hilton Creek.


Trail Junction



I took a right at the trail junction, which took me to #2 Hilton.  #2 Hilton Lake at 9,870 feet is large (41 Acres) and beautiful, with good camping spots.  Because it’s less than 10,000 feet, camp fires are permitted.  You will have several lakes to choose from for your fishing or viewing pleasure.  Bring your fishing pole, a camera, or just a book.  Either way, you will be very happy you did this trip.  I could easily spend all day fishing here myself. 


#2 Hilton



Once I set up camp, got my fishing pole and set out to try #2 Hilton Lake.  And fishing is great, with many eager fish to catch on a fly.  Within an hour I caught three species of trout: brooks, rainbows and browns all in the 10-14” range.  I kept one of each for dinner that night and they were excellent!  Once the sun drops behind the mountains it got chilly and the campfire was real comforting.


Brook Trout




Rainbow Trout




Brown Trout





Next section coming up soon…..
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2013, 02:27:06 PM »
Day 3



Got up early the next morning and headed north to #1 Hilton Lake (Davis) at 9,850 feet.  Davis Lake is the largest of the chain of Hilton lakes at 65 acres.  Davis Lake sits lower and has a lot of marsh areas so the mosquitoes can get awful there in summer.  No problems now, as mosquitos are long gone.


Davis Lake



Fishing was great at Davis Lake too with catching all three species again on a fly, including my biggest brown of my trip.


Brown Trout



I’m thinking “Sierra Grand Slam” now as there is supposed to be Goldens in the upper lakes so off I go.
It’s still early and this is the perfect time to sample all the upper Hilton Lakes and see what’s really in them. 


Trail to Upper Hiltons



The trail to the upper lakes is real steep with lots of steps and switchbacks. But what made it worst was the snow and ice on the trail, which made it treacherous.  I made up to #3 Hilton at 10,340 feet.  This 16 acre lake is a real beauty and in no time I’m catching several nice Bows in the 12-14in range.  Fishing is really good but I need to move on, but hope to come back if time permits.


#3 Hilton



Rainbow



Rainbow



#4 Hilton Lake at 10,380 feet is next and is within ¼ mile of #3.  Fat Brookies up to 12” and good fighters too in this 16 acres lake.  Very pretty lake with the shadow of Mount Huntington behind it.


#4 Hilton



Fat Brookie



The trail to Lake #5 Hilton was short but steep and trail is not maintained beyond this point but a pretty lake at 10,700 feet.  But held small brookies only in this 6 acre lake.


#5 Hilton



Brookie



Hiked up over the next rise to Lake #6 Hilton at 10,750 feet.  All I could catch were more small Brookies in this small 2 acre lake.  DFG has this lake listed with Brooks and Goldens!


Brookie



Climbed up the short hike up the canyon to Lake #7 at 10,810 feet and again found nothing but small Brookies in another small 2 acre lake.


Small Brookie



Hiked over the ridge to #8 Hilton Lake at 10,830 feet and fished this small 2 acre lake and caught – Goldens!  They were small but I finally had my “Sierra Grand Slam”!  Didn’t fish #9 & #10 Hiltons as they have been fishless for many years now.


Golden





I head down the trail and finish off the day at #3 Hilton Lake.  This lake is certainly a healthy fishery, with hundreds of fish rising to greet my nymph and not a skinny fish seen during this excellent fishing stay.  There were some interesting looking hybrids from this lake, with some possible golden hybrids perhaps?


Large Rainbow



Hybrid



Hybrid



Humpback



Another Large Rainbow



Nice Views of #1 & #2 Hiltons from #3 Hilton Lake



Glacier Polishing at Upper Lakes



It’s getting late now and I head back to base camp at #2 Hilton Lake.  Another delicious fish dinner with a nice camp fire again.  It’s very quiet night except for the Coyotes howling at the near full moon.


Campfire







Last section coming soon……
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 10:03:38 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2013, 02:53:13 PM »
Day 4



Sunday morning after a quick breakfast I fish #2 Hilton again until almost noon and C&R to double figures and pack up and head back down the trail.  It was weird and almost eerily that I was the only one up here all weekend, but very nice indeed.  This is why I fish and explore the backcountry because of what it brings to my life.  To me there is nothing better than being out on a lake by yourself watching all the beauty around you.


Rainbow



Brook





On my way home I do pass couple of women and their dogs that were on a day hike, first people I seen in three days.  I had a great trip I told them so after our greetings.  And it was!



Davis & #2 Hilton Creek Lakes





Sky


« Last Edit: December 15, 2015, 12:49:19 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

saudust

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2013, 03:57:09 PM »
It's always a treat to read your posts, wshawkins, and to see the photos, too.  The fishing looks like t was off the charts.  Congrats on your "slam".
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

Trev Dog

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2013, 06:25:57 PM »
Very Nice report wshawkins, and a great way to end your season. The chicken fried steak at Tom's is good. Try it at Jack's in Bishop next summer and tell us which is better. Either way you can't go wrong. Thank's again for a great contribution!  :clap:

papow

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2013, 07:22:12 PM »
Your trips and pictures make me wish that I could have had the opportunity when I was younger to have taken some of the same trips. I did have the opportunity to take my first trip to Rock Creek Lake as a kid in 1948. You have chosen such beautiful sites to take pictures and fish. Although I would rather be there looking at them in person. Thank you so much for the information and pictures.  Walt

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2013, 08:59:09 PM »
It's always a treat to read your posts, wshawkins, and to see the photos, too.  The fishing looks like t was off the charts.  Congrats on your "slam".


Thanks saudust.  The fishing was very good at the lakes.  The Hilton Creek was also cranking out some decent fish too. :fishing3:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2013, 09:00:50 PM »
Very Nice report wshawkins, and a great way to end your season. The chicken fried steak at Tom's is good. Try it at Jack's in Bishop next summer and tell us which is better. Either way you can't go wrong. Thank's again for a great contribution!  :clap:


Thanks Trev Dog.  Gardisky was supposed to be my last trip of the season but was able to pull off one more quick trip.  I know about Jack’s in Bishop, it’s my go to place to have breakfast when driving up early to the Sierra.  Fast friendly service, big portions and yummy food.  What’s not to like!  Never had the Chicken Fried Steak there so will give it a try next year. :eating:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2013, 09:01:36 PM »
Your trips and pictures make me wish that I could have had the opportunity when I was younger to have taken some of the same trips. I did have the opportunity to take my first trip to Rock Creek Lake as a kid in 1948. You have chosen such beautiful sites to take pictures and fish. Although I would rather be there looking at them in person. Thank you so much for the information and pictures.  Walt


Thanks Walt.  You know that Rock Creek Pack Station can take you to Hilton lakes?  It’s a pretty sweet way to go.  You ride their horses to Hilton lakes, they set up camp for you, dig you a private latrine, set up a solar shower, cook you steak morning and night if you like, make sandwiches for lunch, ride your horse to #1, #3 or #4 Hilton.  A sweet deal if you can afford it.  Just bring your clothes, sleeping bag and fishing pole and some booze if you like.  Everything else is taking care of. :campfire2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Gary C.

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2013, 11:58:53 AM »
Thanks for the report and congrats on the slam. Looks like a great trip even if it's getting pretty cold that time of year. That last Brown is beautiful.

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2013, 02:18:15 PM »
Gary, when you shared your backpacking trip report to the Hiltons some years back on this Board, I put it on my wish list.  I finally got the opportunity to take it.  Thanks Gary for planting that ideal in my head and inspiring me to take this trip.  Not only was this an easy backpacking trip hiking wise, the fishing was off the charts. :fishing3:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

fishpole

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2013, 03:24:17 PM »
Good report and pics Thanks :clap: :clap: :clap:

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2013, 04:59:43 PM »
Thanks Fishpole.  It was nice to have the whole Hilton Creek Lakes area to myself. ;D
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

bstolton

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2013, 07:29:15 PM »
Wshawkins, another awesome report as usual.  :clap: :clap:
Being up there the same weekend, I have to say the weather was absolutely amazing. Hard to believe it was November.
Beautiful pics of all your fish, congrats on the slam. Usually the only slam I get up there is at the Denny`s in Bishop.  :lol2: :lol2:
gone fishn, hope to be catchn soon !

Trev Dog

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2013, 09:33:58 PM »
Bill, you will get your slam someday. Try Jack's when you are in Bishop.

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2013, 10:00:53 PM »
Thanks bstolton.  Was great times at Hilton Lakes plus had some great weather for November.  On the slam, it’s something I never plan.  But when I had three species so early in the morning, I knew I needed give it a try.  Besides, I was planning on fishing the upper lakes anyway.  Just worked out great!
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Packer

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2013, 12:08:40 PM »
Good to see Lake #8 is still holding. #5 had Golden's years ago, but I have not pulled out any in some time. #2 is One of my favorite lakes to camp at because of the ability to have fires. I thought two years ago they put restrictions for no fires there also. Do you know if they lifted this, or just went on the fact that it was allowed there for so many years?  Camped at #4 last time since they had stopped fires at #2.

If you work up the inlet and hill behind #2 it is a good shortcut to the meadow below #4. A bit steep but a short trek. Beats going up and down that staircase on the east side of #2. Nice camp spot also just over the inlet to #2, but a lot of Bear sign there so make note.
Pack it in, Pack it out...or have a Wrangler do it for you.

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2013, 01:55:11 PM »
I thought they lifted the fire restrictions, but your right, it’s still restricted as I look it up now.   Now I know why there was so much firewood available this late in the season.   :campfire:  Ouch, that fine could of hurt, lucky nobody was up there that weekend.  I never understood the reasoning of this restriction.  The more wood build-up over the years, the more damage a fire will do when it does come through.  My 2 cents.

I did go and fish the inlet at #2 Hilton.  Wish I knew about the shortcut to the upper lakes.  There were some nice camp sites at #3 &4 Hiltons for my next trip up there.  I want to fish the upper lakes more next time.

I figure there has to be some goldens in #5 Hilton.  #8 Hilton flows directly into #5.  Only Makes sense some goldens would swim down.


#5 Hilton as I crested the hill
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bstolton

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2013, 08:13:36 PM »
Trevdog
I have enjoyed breakfast at Jacks,usually very good.
The Slam:  I have come close but honestly never really tried for it. The one fish usually missing is either the brown or the golden, although I've caught both.
gone fishn, hope to be catchn soon !

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2013, 07:21:21 AM »
There are some interesting looking trees up there.

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2013, 07:22:07 AM »
Timber..............!

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2013, 07:23:17 AM »
Must of been some lighting storm!

"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Corey Baer

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2013, 07:45:03 AM »
Beautiful !!
The Creek is Waiting...

playingmenace

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Re: Hilton Creek Lakes
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2013, 07:52:03 AM »
I too was going to inquire about the campfire at 1 and 2, as packer did.

I was hoping they lifted it, and I just hadn't heard.

Hawk, you were able to make it to the junction much faster than I did, and I was traveling lite, as it was a day hike to 4 and back.

Great report, thanks for bringing it here.
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