Distance / Elevation: 9 miles / 1650 feet / Out & Back
Start GPS Coordinates: 37°28’48.7″N 118°36’13.5″W
Directions to Trailhead: Take Highway 395 north from Bishop. 12 miles outside of town, turn left (west) onto Lower Rock Creek Rd/Old Sherwin Grade Rd then a quick right where the road comes to a T. Follow for 3 miles to reach the lower trailhead for Lower Rock Creek Trail in the community of Paradise. Parking, picnic tables, a toilet, and an info kiosk are on the right side of the road just after crossing lower Rock Creek.
Difficulty: Hard. The trail angles evenly uphill for 4.5 miles where it meets Lower Rock Creek Road. Turn around and come right back down, or if you’d like a longer run, the trail continues up to Whisky Canyon and the top of the Sherwin Grade.
Views: Mount Tom, Jeffrey pines, wildflowers
From the parking lot, the trailhead is about 100 feet to the east, across the creek. Navigation is easy, once you are on the trail. The long singletrack follows Lower Rock Creek, winding back and forth across a few bridges, a peaceful run alongside the sound of flowing water. This is a rare well-shaded trail run in the area thanks to the narrow canyon walls rising on either side with the tall Jeffrey pines. On warm days, the shade and water are refreshing. A few stretches along the trail pass across the scree strewn hillsides before tucking back into the trees.
When you reach the spot where the trail meets the road, it’s time to reverse it. The low angle climb to get here is now a low angle descent, fast, and fun all the way back to where you began.
The Lower Rock Creek Trail is a popular mountain bike descent. Keep your eyes and ears open for other users along the trail, especially in the curves where your line of sight is limited.
To learn more, visit @sierratrailruns
Photos by PatitucciPhoto