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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.

Coronavirus Special Message

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

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2 days ago

What's your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra?

Beautiful photo by @robert_lachman from October 12, 2019
#keepbishopsafe
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Whats your favorite season in the Eastern Sierra? 

Beautiful photo by @robert_lachman from October 12, 2019
#keepbishopsafe

Comment on Facebook

All seasons but fall especially! Been going every October for the last 9 years... Also always stop at Mahogany Smoked Meats before going home.

Fall when leaves change and late summer when tubing in cut off’s by day with jeans and flannel by the fire at night

I was raised on the Eastern side of the Sierras. When I was young it was Summers. When I got a little older it was Spring for the opening of trout season. Now at 73 it's Fall...😊

I go every year! 2nd or 3rd week of October! Beautiful scenery and weather!

I have to say mid to late fall. Although mid spring is awesome as well. ✌️

Fall is the best...but the other 3 run a close 2nd!

We from Bishop

Fall🍁🍂🎃

Autumn and Winter

Spring

Anything but fire season 😭

Yes! 😅😁

Gorgeous

Fall

Nice One!

Love the fall leave. We try to go every year in October

Fall

In Bishop all of them. Bishop picture love this site 🙂🙂❤❤

So pretty

Beautiful

Fall

Beautiful picture

Fall by far! I love the colors. We try to go every year in October for my husband's birthday.

Fall for sure. Before the snow shuts the roads. And early summer. When it is just a little cooler. 🐈😷

Beautiful!

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4 days ago

With fires, poor air quality and COVID-19 all currently going on, who needs a little something to look forward to??
How about Wynonna for Labor Day Weekend of 2021!!
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With fires, poor air quality and COVID-19 all currently going on, who needs a little something to look forward to?? 
How about Wynonna for Labor Day Weekend of 2021!!

Comment on Facebook

Lol whatever floats your boat Bishop. With way things are we might be in a middle of some other bs that will shut it down. I’m done hoping and waiting for “better” times to come.

its sept 21??!!

Can’t wait!!

oh next yr ugh

Looks like she needs an enema !

Mary Allegra Nicol

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1 week ago

Wishing all of the firefighters and emergency support teams a safe weekend. Thank you for all that you are doing!!!

Sending love from Bishop to all who are being affected by the fires. ❤️

This photo by Instagram user @sammyzz17 and is from February of 2018 when we had the Pleasant Valley Reservior Fire. Hoping that he and his crew are safe!
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Wishing all of the firefighters and emergency support teams a safe weekend. Thank you for all that you are doing!!! 

Sending love from Bishop to all who are being affected by the fires. ❤️

This photo by Instagram user @sammyzz17 and is from February of 2018 when we had the Pleasant Valley Reservior Fire. Hoping that he and his crew are safe!

Comment on Facebook

🙏God Bless you all. I have been praying for rain to help put all the fires out and is in the forecast for some areas yeh!

God Bless all of you amazing men and women fighting these horrible fires. Stay safe!🙏❤️👩‍🚒👩‍🚒👍

Thanks guys!! Hope you all stay safe and return home to your families soon!!! Bless you all❤️

Wonderful pic.of these brave Firefighters! Prayers for their safety! 🙏🏻💕🙏🏻

Thank you to ALL FF's and Incident Command crews, Strike Teams busting butt out there. Love & prayers for All Your Safety from Santa Rosa 💜😷🐈

🙏 to all the first responders and thank you for your hard work.

Thank you Bishop firefighters for all of your extremely hard work!

A big Thank You To All Our Firefighters God Bless You And Your Families Stay Safe

Sending love and prayers from the Florida Panhandle. Be Safe! God Bless you and yours!

Thank you for your service. and God Bless You All .

God be with you all. Thank fort doing what you do

What a commitment! Thank you! Your work can never be repaid!!!

God bless you boys! Please stay safe!

Thank you God bless and stay safe

God Bless you all🙏☮️

Thank you all for what you do for us everyday 💗

Stay safe 🚒😊👍🏼

Amen

Ty

👊👍🤙😎🙏

Thanks to all the firefighters out in California, Oregon & Washington who work tirelessly everyday ❗️❗️. You are true heroes❗️

This is a spectacular photo, a real prizewinner! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks never were more than a few brave people

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1 week ago

To any of our Inyo County residents....Please take a minute, if you haven’t yet, to sign up for the Inyo County emergency alerting system, CodeRED. This will ensure that if there is a local emergency such as an evacuation notice or missing child report that you will be notified. Stay safe and stay informed!
Click on this link to sign up:
public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/DAD807D480BF

📷 by John Paul DeRousseau
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To any of our Inyo County residents....

Comment on Facebook

Jack Lila McKinney just making sure your signed up ❤️

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