Favorite Yosemite Spots: Benson Lake

Photo by Harry Vanderburg

Photo by Harry Vanderburg

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors. Benson Lake in Yosemite’s backcountry is a favorite spot of Harry Vanderburg, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley. “Benson Lake in northern Yosemite is my favorite backpacking destination north of Tioga Pass.  It’s sandy beach is the largest in Yosemite and at an elevation of 7,600 ft the warmer temperatures make it perfect for swimming or a layover day lounging on the sand.  Twin Lakes, just east of Bridgeport and outside of the park boundary, is the closest trail head.  It’s 18.7 miles to Benson Lake but most backpackers do a 40 mile loop, spending the first night at Peeler Lake and passing through Matterhorn Canyon on the return trip.  Fishing is good for Brook and Rainbow Trout.  I was lucky enough to see a couple of White Pelicans taking advantage of the good fishing!”

Photo by Harry Vanderburg

Photo by Harry Vanderburg

Photo by Harry Vanderburg

Photo by Harry Vanderburg

Benson Lake is located at 7580 feet in the northern wilderness of Yosemite National Park and is known as ‘The Riviera of the Sierra’ due to its wide sandy beach. The lake – filled with rainbow and brook trout – was named after Harry Coupland Benson, an army officer stationed in Sequoia and Yellowstone National Parks in addition to acting as superintendent in Yosemite from 1905 to 1908.

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