Volcanic Tableland Loop – Trail Running | Bishop Visitor Information Center
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Around 700,000 years ago, the Volcanic Tablelands were formed from the erupting caldera in Long Valley. Near the small California town of Bishop, the Volcanic Tableland has become known around the rock climbing world as one of the more awesome spots to explore. Before rock climbing and westward expansion, the Paiute-Shoshone Indians resided here in the valley, creating and leaving behind stunning petroglyphs that are scattered throughout the Tableland.While no real hiking or running trails exist in the tablelands, a handful or roads for bikes, ORVs, and cars help make this a great place for trail runners looking for big views, history and desert adventure. The best way to see all this land is by running the Volcanic Tablelands Loop and then exploring the rocks and mountains on your own to find the unmarked petroglyphs.

What Makes It Great

With limited maintained trails for hiking and running, the vast majority of exploration in the region is done on the variety of jeep trails or on your own. There are a few rock climbing maps and guides to good bouldering, but the Volcanic Tablelands are mostly unmarked and wild.

The Volcanic Tableland Loop is one of the few marked areas, consisting of mainly rolling doubletrack routes and dirt roads. The loop run might be nearly a marathon in distance, but this trail is ideal for nearly every level of runner to enjoy. Gaining just 1,308 feet over 24.3 miles, this route will give you the very best views of the entire area, while letting you get in a long run with minimal gain. The land and the views, combined with the ever-present feeling of the history of humanity on your shoulders brings an awareness of yourself and your impact on the environment to the forefront of your brain.

Running in the Volcanic Tableland is what many feel it would be like to run on alien terrain. With each step, the possibility of discovering a 7,000 year old petroglyph on a rock in this stark region. As scrub brush and rock ledges give way to gorgeous panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, wonder, geology and beauty extend out in all directions. Spending the entire day running out here also means you get to stay the night, where stargazing is incredible.

Who is Going to Love It

The roads and bike tracks at Volcanic Tableland will work for all levels of trail runners, but the main trail in the area is for those looking for an ultra distance. While the loop is the best running route, there are smaller excursions you can go on if you need something easier, or you can just take off and literally run for the hills.

If you are a fan of creating your own adventure and keeping locations of incredible petroglyphs a secret, you will love the region. With seclusion, stunning views and the chance to stumble upon some unmarked petroglyphs left by the Paiute-Shoshone Indians that lived here many generations ago, trail running here is just the beginning of discovering this incredible and historic landscape.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From the town of Bishop, head north on State Highway 6 until you reach 5 Bridges Road. Take a left here and drive for five miles until it turns into a dirt road. Soon, you will reach a BLM kiosk that will provide a detailed map and some useful route info on the Tablelands.

Look HERE for more trail running options in the Bishop Area.

Featured image provided by BLM

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4 days ago

Love these historic photos from Tales Along El Camino Sierra.Two great photos from the tallest peak in the lower 48. 1-Visitors enjoying trip to the Alabama Hills with majestic Mt. Whitney looming behind them. Photo 2-A group on horseback back when horses were allowed to go all the way to the summit. This Frasher photo postcard is from the 1930s. ... See MoreSee Less

Love these historic photos from Tales Along El Camino Sierra.


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We miss the inyo county! So much to see and experience!

Great book.

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4 days ago

We really like this concept - why limit yourself to just summer vacations? Bishop is a great destination year-round! Thanks for the shout-out, Visit USA Parks .Let's dismiss the idea of a "summer vacation", shall we? How about a "winter vacation"?! Bishop, California has so much to offer the off-season traveler: from great outdoor recreation, mild weather, unique shops and restaurants, and interesting attractions. Visit Bishop in the off-season and enjoy an inexpensive vacation, away from the crowds and packed with great experiences! #visitbishop #ThisIsMyRoute #VisitUSAParks ... See MoreSee Less

We really like this concept - why limit yourself to just summer vacations? Bishop is a great destination year-round! Thanks for the shout-out, Visit USA Parks .


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I'm thinking of getting away in Bishop starting Christmas Day (Creekside Inn, of course!) but wondering what restaurants would be open Christmas Day in Bishop.

Having lived there for 10 years, totally agree! So much to do and explore!

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6 days ago

Railroad Express is fun for the whole family! The annual Railroad Express has come and gone - we wait all year for this event and POOF! Over for another year. Tag us in your photos - you'll find us at @visitbishop here, on Instagram, and on Twitter. ... See MoreSee Less

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