Backpacking Bishop, CA
photo by Ken Etzel
Bishop’s local trails are nothing short of spectacular! Whether you are charging up peaks, or seeking serenity in the mountains, get your hike on with big, beautiful skies, crisp, clean lakes, and majestic granite mountains. A walk in the high country is an unforgettable experience!
BISHOP CREEK CANYON
Bishop Creek Canyon offers dozens of fantastic trails for day hikes and fishing excursions. Stretch your legs and feel the sun on your face as you stride out from the South Lake trailhead to cast a fly at Long Lake. Or enjoy the fresh scent of the Lodgepole pines and hear the familiar “cheeseburger” call of the Mountain Chickadee as you head up to the gorgeous Blue Lake in the Sabrina Basin. And when you’ve gotten your lungs used to the altitude, travel over the Sierra Crest into the magic of the Humphreys Basin from the North Lake trailhead. Bishop Creek is also your jumping off point for the John Muir Trail or other multi-day hikes over Bishop Pass and Piute Pass, both leading to hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine high mountain wilderness. Who knows, you could even end up in Canada!
Long or short, your hike is only limited by your imagination. The Inyo National Forest provides a list of trail options to help you plan your route and adventure.
RESORTS AS RESOURCES
Get the lowdown on trails and unique area features. Check in with Sierra front country caretakers who can enhance your recreation experience with local insight and lore. Here are links to Bishop Creek Resort , Cardinal Village Resort, Lake Sabrina Boat Landing and Parcher’s Resort in Bishop Creek Canyon where you can find additional info on local features, hiking, backpacking, and trails info. Bishop Creek Lodge, Cardinal Village Resort and Parcher’s also have rental cabins to acclimatize overnight backpackers at higher elevations before their trek.
On your way up, be sure to drop into our shops in Bishop for proper apparel and footwear! Finally, before you head out, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind for a fun and safe trip.
Ready for some high country adventure? Most of the trailheads start at 8,000 ft – 10,000 ft in elevation and go up from there! Many people find the altitude challenging, so it’s a good idea to take it slow and spend a day or two to acclimatize at altitude before embarking on a long journey. Drink plenty of water and arrive well-rested to increase your ability to adapt to the thin air.
TRAVELING AND SAFETY IN WILDERNESS
With the short 30-minute drive from town to most trailheads, it’s easy to think that amenities are close by, but things like cell phone service are not available on the trails. Plan on being self-sufficient and don’t underestimate the power of nature: sudden afternoon thunderstorms are frequent, and temps can drop suddenly as a storm approaches. Know lightning safety and carry an extra layer or waterproof shell on your hike. If clouds are building by noon, there is a good chance of rain in the afternoon. Despite all this talk of rain, conditions are sunny most of the time—therefore a sun hat and sunscreen are also high country musts.
Hike with an ample supply of water. The Eastern Sierra’s arid climate might surprise you, necessitating more water than you think. Any drinking water obtained from sources on the trail may contain Giardia (which causes moderate to severe intestinal upset) and needs to be treated.
HIKING WITH DOGS
Bring your canine best friend with you on a hike in the National Forest! Any trails outside of the National Park are dog-friendly, although dogs must be under control at all times, whether under verbal control or on a leash. And the Forest Service asks that you pick up after your dog and keep them from chasing animals in their natural habitat.
Free Wilderness permits for overnight trips are available from the White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop. Day hiking does not require a permit, so just get out there and enjoy the trails!
SUPPORTED HIKING TRIPS
Questions about supported hiking trips? These packers are professionals at getting food and gear into the high country and make these multi-day hiking trips way more fun.
WILDERNESS PERMITS: All wilderness permits for guests who hire a packer for a supported hiking trip, aka dunnage and cache (pack it in/pack it out) are provided through the Pack Station commercial quota allocation. These wilderness permits are not issued from the general public quota. If you are riding or hiking with a pack station, the permit will be issued from their commercial quota.
LEAVE NO TRACE
While the mountains seem rugged, they are actually quite fragile. Proper Leave No Trace habits help preserve the lands for those who follow in your footsteps. Please take out all your trash, including any used toilet paper. For human waste, dig and use a hole six inches deep and well away from trails, camps or areas such as dry streambeds where the water has the potential to flow during a storm. Never bury or burn your toilet paper. Finally, archeological resources are protected by law and should be left in place.
Hikers traveling the Pacific Crest Trail are frequent summer visitors in Bishop. We offer a number of gear stores, grocery stores and lodging options to provide a brief respite and resupply your gear and bear canisters. We know you will enjoy your trip into Bishop’s high country and we’d love to see your pictures! Use the hashtag #HikeBishop in your Facebook and Instagram photos and will share them on our social media. Stay safe and come back often!