Three Sisters, Mono Divide

Notes by piero scaruffi
California hikes | Sierra peaks | Other California destinations
Three Sisters (3235 m) is usually reached from the trailhead at the Courtright Resevoir. The trail to Cliff Lake is relatively uneventful and quick. Best is to leave the trail before it reaches the shores of Cliff Lake and start climbing (easy class 1-2) to its north in the general west direction. You are basically coasting Cliff Lake to its left, at higher and higher elevation. This ridge connects to the Three Sisters with very little elevation loss. Once you are at the base of the Three Sisters it is an easy scramble to the top whichever direction you take, slightly easier on the northern side. You can then descend the northern side to the Dinkey lakes where you can pick up the trail that takes you back to Cliff Lake.
  • Courtright Resevoir
  • Junction with the Nelson Lake trail: 45'
  • Cliff Lake: 2h
  • Three Sisters: 3h30'
  • Island lake
  • Dinkey Lake 2
  • Rock Lake
  • Cliff Lake
  • Courtright Resevoir: 9h

View from Three Sisters

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    Directions to the trailhead

    Take hwy 168 east towards Shaver Lake but turn right before the lake into Dinkey Creek Rd that turns into McKinley Grove Rd. Follow the signs to Courtright Reservoir to the end of the road where the dam is. At the dam you get three choices: to the left you can drive the paved road to the expensive campground and to the Cliff Lake trailhead; straight ahead you do to the boat landing and to a free campground; and to the right you drive over the dam itself. It takes easily two hours from Fresno to the trailhead. The Cliff Lake trailhead (northwest side of the reservoir, where the Nelson Creek enters the reservoir) is a large parking lot.
    There is one expensive campground ($24 in 2015) just before the Cliff Lake trailhead. Everything else is free as long as you can park safely and as long as there is no "no camping" sign. The whole east shore up to the parking lot is free camping (NOT the parking lot itself). There is potable water at both the expensive campground and the free campground.