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Bishop Visitor's Center

Trail running and mountain running are not new to the world of running, but are becoming more popular as a way to enjoy the natural world around us and, at the same time, achieve fitness goals. Running on trails and in areas removed from urban life, where traffic and air quality can impact the safety and enjoyment of running, is why we do it.

Bishop offers a vast array of trail running and mountain running options all year and winter is no obstacle for the great trail running here. It is, in fact, one of the best times of year to run in Bishop. The trails and running zones that are close to this beautiful mountain town are easily accessible and yet feel remote due to the pristine landscape in which it sits.

Within the broad expanse of the Owens River Valley floor, the rocky hills of the valley, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the escarpment of the Tablelands is an area of almost 400 square miles that has innumerable single- and dual-track trails that add up to why Bishop has been named one of the top trail towns in America!

Buttermilk Country

Known as a destination for world-class bouldering and with its early history of mining and ranching there are numerous roads and trails that thread their way through and around these spectacular rocks. Trail running here provides the opportunity to link these trails together for a variety of results. Runners could aim for distance and minimal technical challenge or higher levels of difficulty depending on training requirements or personal satisfaction. These trails have varying surfaces, inclines, obstacles and a few stream crossings – which may be icy in winter.

At 6,400’, the Buttermilk area covers 325 acres of high desert meadow, unimpeded views of the Sierra Nevada and is surrounded by the Inyo National Forest. The junction of Buttermilk Rd on State Route 168 is just 8 miles from Bishop.

Beautiful Buttermilk Country. Photo: Mike McDermott

Starlite

Perched above Buttermilk Country is the community of Starlite. Old roads, tracks and trails radiate from the settlement into the surrounding hillside. These offer some of the area’s best mountain running experiences. Trails peter out or link up to barely discernable footpaths with the opportunity to tackle cross-country running through ravines and over rocky outcrops. Never too far from civilization this running zone delivers the raw beauty of a remote sub-alpine mountain run without the risk of isolation. The area can be covered by snow at times during winter, but even so with right gear it is not out of contention as a winter trail running destination.

Sunset from Starlite

Tungsten Hills

Named for the tungsten that was mined here until the late 1940s these hills are composed primarily of granite and quartz diorite. It’s a favorite place for rock hounding and crystals of red garnet can still be found here. However, if you’re on a mission to run, the seemingly endless roads and trails here will keep your attention focused on the task. If you’re a seasoned trail runner the only thing that will leave you breathless here … is the view!

There are a number of good access points with the closest to town being the Tungsten City Rd at just a little over 6 miles from the Bishop Visitor Center. The Millpond Recreation Area is also a great place to start and end your Tungsten trail run as it offers well maintained amenities, such as: ample parking, restrooms, picnic areas, and a playground. If you’re visiting with a group of friends or family that include non-runners this is the venue for you.

Tungsten Peak. Photo courtesy of Sage to Summit

Volcanic Tablelands

If you feel the need to stretch your eyes and your legs the Tablelands will provide sweeping vistas and long, undulating roads for a rhythmic run. Of the routes available some skirt the protected wetlands of Fish Slough, or wander through indigenous alkali meadow that comprises much of this plateau and the valley floor below the escarpment. Others curve in and around the rock formations that are sculpted in the Bishop Tuff from which this plateau is created.

Formed as a result of a massive volcanic eruption a mere 760,000 years ago, very recent in geological time, the Volcanic Tablelands rise dramatically less than 5 miles north of Bishop. This area offers a variety of fairly flat high desert running on graded dirt roads and well-worn trails with few obstacles.

Sheepherder Loop Run. Photo courtesy of Sage to Summit

Owens River Floodplain

As the water gives life to the fauna and flora that live along the shores of this river, the Owens River floodplain offers a lifetime of running fun. The river meanders for 40 river miles between Pleasant Valley and Tinemaha Reservoirs and tracks and trails undulate for myriad miles along its banks. In the straight line distance of 2.5 miles between East Line St and Warm Springs Rd there is a network of tracks presenting diverse terrain of grassy meadows, soft sand, hard packed gravel, muddy washes, and sand dunes. There is little in the way of elevation change, but the changeable ground underfoot will keep you on your toes … so to speak. Bird and animal life is abundant here and anglers may be fishing from the banks and wading in the shallows, even in winter.

Buckley Ponds panorama – Owens Valley Floor

Running Around Town

Before you head for the hills take a quick run around town and visit the local retailers and pop into the Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main St. The folks you can chat with here are knowledgeable and experienced about our area and all the great activities we do here.

You’ll find the running enthusiasts at Sage to Summit at 312 N. Main Street and the store is stocked with all the gear you might need for trail and mountain running. Eastside Sports has ‘equipment and clothing for all your mountain adventures’ and books galore on these subjects.

Get maps, get gear, get advice and, most of all, get prepared. Dress in layers as weather can change quickly in this mountainous, high-desert region. If you’re running alone always tell someone where you plan to go and when you plan to return.

Run Around Bishop … you’ll be so glad you did.

Local Resources

Click here for information about the Winter 5K Race Series. All proceeds benefit Inyo County Search & Rescue

Free downloadable run route maps here.

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

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2 days ago

Anyone going to be here this weekend? This will be a great program.Interested in the night sky and nightscape photography? Please join us this Saturday, August 24th at Grandview Campground at 9 pm for a fun and educational program discussing the constellations, planets, importance of the Dark Sky, and an introduction to nightscape photography with ESIA Naturalist, John Kelly and ESIA Board Chair, Don Chambers. 🌟 Photo by Don Chambers ... See MoreSee Less

Anyone going to be here this weekend? This will be a great program.

 

Comment on Facebook

Sounds great, have taken grands to similar programs at Kensington in Mi. Loved it!

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2 days ago

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in doing a run for a good cause, please check this out!! Fight against cancer on October 5th by running or walking through iconic John Wayne movie locations and rugged western landscapes of the Alabama Hills. 1/2 marathon and 10K options.
johnwayne.org/jwgs-alabama-hills/
Photo by @matthewcodyhudson
... See MoreSee Less

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in doing a run for a good cause, please check this out!! Fight against cancer on October 5th by running or walking through iconic John Wayne movie locations and rugged western landscapes of the Alabama Hills. 1/2 marathon and 10K options.  
https://johnwayne.org/jwgs-alabama-hills/
Photo by @matthewcodyhudson

 

Comment on Facebook

Wonderful picture

Love the Owens valley Alabama hills

Alabama Hill's a great place to visit

Beautiful shot!

Lone Pine Peak- Joe Kidd, Eastwood and Duwall

I imagine most folk on FB have no idea who John Wayne is 🤪

Kimberly Masters Huffman

Rachel Eads

Hey Dennis Cook Ever been to Bishop?

Tom Morgan lets go!!

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3 days ago

Not only are the bristlecone pines amazing, but the sunsets are pretty spectacular there as well!
#visitbishop
Photo: @samrtoo
... See MoreSee Less

Not only are the bristlecone pines amazing, but the sunsets are pretty spectacular there as well! 
#visitbishop
Photo: @samrtoo

 

Comment on Facebook

Beautiful

This is a great place. If you have a chance go see them.

I must get there before winter sets in!

Simply Beautiful☺

It’s a beautiful town

Loved my fall visit last year with a special opportunity ...a later than normal closure of the ancient Bristlecone pine forest ! Checked that off the bucket list

When we visited the Bristlecone. On the way up we would stop and pick Piñon nuts. The female comes of the Bristlecone is a beautiful blue/purple cone.

Have not been up there since 2009.

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4 days ago

Fishing fun! Check out our local guides!

Outside TV
Kayak fishing on Lake Sabrina in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains! outside.tv/August19 Congrats to our latest August Campfire Video of the Week winner, Ed and Ed Go Fishing without Ed! Enjoy your prizes from FRDM, Sight Line Provisions, and Postfly! Grand prize winner will also win a rod from The Wade Rod Co. Show us your adventures for a chance to win and be featured on Outside TV, and stay tuned for other ways to win cool prizes from other brands like BUFF!
... See MoreSee Less

 

Comment on Facebook

Great times fishing there

My favorite place to be. I miss going to fish there. So many fond memories.

Miss being there. Bishop creek.

Awesome video

My bride of 42 years and I were just there last week! Such a great place to relax, fish & get away.

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