Nice! If I had known you guys were going, I'd have urged you to take the South Fork trail either in or out, just for fun. It's one of those no-longer-maintained trails, but it lives on. I followed it in several years ago, but missed the start, and had to wander a bit in one area, but the rest is a nice route, a little more direct to NAP.
Here's a Cal Topo map -- the trail "X" in the center is the trail to Circue Lake crossing the South Fork trail. Click this link
to see the topo map (without the trail), but it follows the South Fork creek closely.
The trail starts at the main trail to Cottonwood lakes about 50 yards after you cross the South Fork (~1.5 mile N of the trail head). Here's a sat view of the junction, which is not marked on any map: satellite view