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The popular (and sometimes busy) trail to Bishop Pass is steep and slightly rocky, making it more enjoyable for seasoned hikers. The second half of the ascent to the pass is where the real challenge begins (especially if there is still snow hanging around), but those who summit the pass at 11,972 feet are rewarded with striking views of the Eastern Sierra.

What Makes It Great

This trail is a photographer’s dream come true. Between the alpine lakes and breathtaking mountain views, plan for some extra time to account for all the pictures you’ll be taking.

The trail starts out fairly moderately at South Lake, the first of many lakes you’ll get to see as you steadily climb up towards the pass. About two miles in is the second lake—Long Lake. This milestone is where some of your fellow hikers might be stopping at and turning around, so if it’s a busy day on the trail and your legs still feel fresh, it’s usually best to press on through this stretch after a quick break to take in the views.

Continue along the east side of the lake and past the junction of a spur trail to Ruwau and Chocolate Lakes. Stay to the right here to continue to the pass. Begin your rocky ascent again as you head towards Saddlerock and Bishop Lakes, and look for a beautiful waterfall at about 3.6 miles. Bishop Lake is about 4.1 miles from the trailhead.

The last push up the mountainside is steep and challenging, with switchbacks through large boulders and rock slabs. Look to the east and you’ll see Mount Agassiz and Aperture Peak as you make your final ascent. When you make it to the pass, you’ll be rewarded with an impressive southeastern view of the Black Divide, Dusy Valley, and Le Conte Canyon.

From here, add more mileage by connecting with the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails, or turn around and go back the way you came.

Who is Going to Love It

This is a challenging hike because of the steady elevation gain, but the trail is well-marked. While the footing is rocky in some places, it is mostly sturdy. Experienced middle-of-the-run hikers will find this a strenuous but rewarding feat and well-seasoned hikers will appreciate the steep vertical.

There are plenty of places to camp along the way for backpackers looking to break it up into multiple days. If you are seeking solitude, try to visit on a weekday or during the shoulder season. This is one of the most popular summer hikes in the Eastern Sierra, especially around the 4th of July when the wildflowers are bursting into full bloom.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Head west from Bishop on Hwy 168 (Line Street) towards South Lake. Follow the road past the boat ramp to where it dead ends near a paved parking lot with signs for day use and some overnight parking. Additional overnight parking can be found along the road near Parchers Resort.

Wilderness permit required if you are planning to backpack overnight.

Featured image provided by daveynin

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1 day ago

Family Fun Day - mark your calendars!Looking for a fun event for the entire family? Join us at the Family Fun Day on May 11th between 10am-2pm at Bishop City Park! ... See MoreSee Less

Family Fun Day - mark your calendars!

3 days ago

Enjoy this bird's eye view of Mt. Whitney!

Visit California
Just an average weekend soaring through the skies of Inyo County and getting a front-row seat view of Mount Whitney, California's tallest mountain. 😉
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Comment on Facebook

"Hey Ma, top of the world."

That looks so cool! Thanks for sharing.

It's one way to get to or over the summit. Would still like to do it the old fashioned way. Will be sharing. Thanks. :-)



Ann Craig

Marcela Sedano-Jensen

Bree hiked that monster!! It's beautiful :)

Joe Shermer can see you doing this

Roger Klein lookie here.

I wouldn’t even fly a small plane into that area. Death wish.

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5 days ago

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!The wildflower bloom moves both northward and higher in elevation as Spring progresses. During the past week flowers were spotted as high as 5,000 feet in the eastern Sierra footslopes. Several wilderness areas west of Ridgecrest offer great wildflower viewing opportunities. Several canyons offer access points for hiking and flower viewing as visitors climb the footslopes. Thank you to all public lands visitors practicing #LeaveNoTrace principles while you #TracktheBloom! ... See MoreSee Less

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!
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