In the Inyo National Forest, one trail is quietly becoming a great training run for trail runners in the greater Bishop Area. Known as the Grass Lake Loop, this 5k running route is the ideal loop for training or just a relaxing jaunt into the gorgeous John Muir Wilderness. Full of water, forests and the occasional sweeping vista, the run goes straight through gorgeous terrain and leads to some of the nation’s most pristine scenery. Once you are out at Grass Lake, you can stop and enjoy the glacial-fed waters, continue further on the area trails, or return back to the car to complete the journey.
What Makes It Great
Starting out, the run to Grass Lake looks like any other adventure in the wilderness around Bishop. In the distance, tall mountains loom, sending torrents of water down creeks, cascades, and lakes, while scenic views and picturesque forests await your steady stride. With each step, you gain a little bit of elevation, sometimes steep enough to force a quick walking pace instead of a run. The run to Grass Lake is a fantastic example of accessibility in the wilderness, as this well-maintained trail will get you in shape—both physically and mentally.
The 3.1-mile loop run starts at the northwest side of North Lake, near the pack station. Running from here to the actual trail is less than half a mile, making for a good warm up before you start the hills of the trail. After a mile on the trail, you will hit a creek, which is the first real obstacle of this loop. Work your way over fallen logs to get across the creek, but be careful—the logs may be slick after wetter weather. Once you get past the logs and creek, Grass Lake will come into view.
To complete the loop, stay on the north side of the lake, working your way along the shore until you come across another trail, heading north (back in the direction you came from). The trail is usually pretty obvious, but if you are uncomfortable in finding the second part of the trail, you can do the run to Grass Lake as an out-and-back along the main trail.
Who is Going to Love It
The run is for just about anyone who enjoys trail running but is ideal as a way to dust off the cobwebs or to restart your trail running regimen. More advanced trail runners can use it as an extended loop run, either exploring further up the trails or returning to the car as an aid station between loops. The trail is not too steep, but will still work your legs enough to give you a little burn while allowing extended moments of recovery. As a dog-friendly trail, this is also a good way to work out both you and your pooch in gorgeous scenery.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Head west out of Bishop on Highway 168, head toward Lake Sabrina and North Lake campground to the John Muir Wilderness. Parking for the Grass Lake and Lamarck Lake trails is found on far end of lake, near the pack horse area.
Featured image provided by Dustin Blakey