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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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19 hours ago

Don’t forget to visit the Bishop Mule Days Celebration official souvenir shop located on the fairgrounds for 50th anniversary commemorative t-shirts, belt buckles, coffee mugs and more! Open now through Sunday, May 26th. ... See MoreSee Less

Don’t forget to visit the Bishop Mule Days Celebration official souvenir shop located on the fairgrounds for 50th anniversary commemorative t-shirts, belt buckles, coffee mugs and more! Open now through Sunday, May 26th.

 

Comment on Facebook

Can we purchase items online when we can’t attend in person??

Teresa Nunez

Are you online?

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3 days ago

Mule Days is open to the public; no charge to enter the fairgrounds and there is a lot to see and do all weekend! Bring the kids and enjoy all the fun activities Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Junior Packer Corral. Happening this coming weekend, Friday May 24 - Sunday May 26th. ... See MoreSee Less

Mule Days is open to the public; no charge to enter the fairgrounds and there is a lot to see and do all weekend! Bring the kids and enjoy all the fun activities Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Junior Packer Corral. Happening this coming weekend, Friday May 24 - Sunday May 26th.

 

Comment on Facebook

Gary Dutter

Silly Question I guess... But What Month???

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4 days ago

Winter just doesn’t want to leave!The winter that wouldn’t end! ... See MoreSee Less

Winter just doesn’t want to leave!

 

Comment on Facebook

What's with the snow??

Still wintery here right now in May!!

Down here at the very beginning of the PCT we are very wet and cold and wondering how all those PCT hikers in just tennis shoes are doing right now. Some of them look so ill prepared when they finish the first 22 miles and stop here at our Malt Shop for a pizza and hot breakfast before starting up into the Laguna Mts.

Great place to stay

I guess it must be the Sierra answer to that surfing movie, "The Endless Summer." And even here in Berkeley, CA on this side we turned on our heater today. Well, we needed to dry out the interior of the house. Pretty pictures, though. Thanks.

We had snow in Mc Cloud last night.

No snow but rainy and chilly on the Central Coast . We feel the same....😁

I like cardinal village

Geeeezzz!!! R-2 conditions over Donner Pass today, which is my home territory.

Oh no!❄️☃️

Can't wait to go up in August.....back in the early 1970's, there would be patches of snow on the mountain across from Camp Sabrina around Memorial day!

Well WE are raining, cold with thunder and lightning here in the Sonoma County area.

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1 week ago

Fishing and conditions report from Lake Sabrina Boat Landing: Mother Nature definitely didn’t want us to forget her this week – lots of fun weather. Beautiful sunny days, then rain, slush, snowball snow, lightening, thunder, big flake snow and lots of it and then back to beautiful sunny days. And it looks like we’ve got the same instore for us this coming week. We woke to 14” to 16” of snow on Friday, it was a pretty quiet Friday. We stayed hunkered down by the woodstove that day. Pretty much by Sunday that snow was gone.

The Lake was icing off fairly well prior to last week’s storm. The manmade part of the Lake is totally ice-free, but may have some skim ice in the early morning. We’ve got open water behind the Island in the first natural Lake. There’s open water showing in the back natural Lake over by Little George Inlet, but is still iced-over where the Lake narrows down by Cookie’s Point. With the cooler temps, the run-off has shut down a bit and the Lake is not rising. We’re hoping that will change and we’ll have boats on the Lake by Memorial Weekend – just need 6’.

If you’re fishing, might want to try back behind what is normally the Island – can’t really tell you what’s working cuz haven’t had many fisherpeople out there yet.
... See MoreSee Less

Fishing and conditions report from Lake Sabrina Boat Landing: Mother Nature definitely didn’t want us to forget her this week – lots of fun weather. Beautiful sunny days, then rain, slush, snowball snow, lightening, thunder, big flake snow and lots of it and then back to beautiful sunny days. And it looks like we’ve got the same instore for us this coming week. We woke to 14” to 16” of snow on Friday, it was a pretty quiet Friday. We stayed hunkered down by the woodstove that day. Pretty much by Sunday that snow was gone.

The Lake was icing off fairly well prior to last week’s storm. The manmade part of the Lake is totally ice-free, but may have some skim ice in the early morning. We’ve got open water behind the Island in the first natural Lake. There’s open water showing in the back natural Lake over by Little George Inlet, but is still iced-over where the Lake narrows down by Cookie’s Point. With the cooler temps, the run-off has shut down a bit and the Lake is not rising. We’re hoping that will change and we’ll have boats on the Lake by Memorial Weekend – just need 6’.

If you’re fishing, might want to try back behind what is normally the Island – can’t really tell you what’s working cuz haven’t had many fisherpeople out there yet.

 

Comment on Facebook

Would really like to go up there and fish.

Jessica Caballero Yolanda Wren Joseph Caballero

We are coming up early June! Staying in Lone Pine but plan on driving up to visit. Hope we can see Sabrina

Luv it there caught my share

Filling up, can’t wait

JJ Garcia

Joe Powell

Scott L Barnes

Jo Nathan let’s goooo!

Roberto Villegas look familiar?

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