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Day Hikes in Bishop’s Big Backyard

Hiking in Bishop’s big backyard is epic!

Hiking trail on hillside overlooking town of Bishop and White Mountains in the distance

Druid Stones Trail overlooking Bishop in spring

The dictionary defines epic as heroic; majestic; impressively great! Gazing up toward the numerous 13,000+ foot peaks of the Sierra Nevada from beautiful Bishop, it would seem the word was coined here. With so much mountainous terrain and so many spectacular trails, going deep into the John Muir Wilderness, hiking here is epic.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all long or hard.

There are many wonderful day hikes that are impressively great that you can do in just a few hours. You could take the kids and dogs too and, in summer, pack your swimsuit for a refreshing dip in a mountain lake.

The Eastern Sierra has some of the most topographically diverse and beautiful landscapes on the continent. When summer heat is high in the valley, the mountains are cool; when snow blankets the mountains, the valley is often dry and warm. Hiking trails range from under a mile to many miles, from little elevation gain to steep slopes accessing mountain peaks, from easy to strenuous, from less than an hour to many hours—there are countless trails that can be done in a day.

Why hike in Bishop’s Big Backyard?

You can find solace in the expansive wilderness that stretches from the Owens Valley to the crest of the Sierra Nevada. Journeying through this region, you experience the raw beauty of nature, untouched and unspoiled. Wildlife encounters add a thrilling dimension. You may spot mule deer, observe birds of prey, or catch a glimpse of the elusive Sierra Nevada red fox.

Beyond the thrill of exploration, hiking in these serene settings offers profound mental and physical benefits. It reduces stress, enhances mood, and builds physical endurance. The Eastern Sierra, with its diverse terrains from urban to peri-urban, and front-country trails to backcountry wilderness, caters to adventurers of all capabilities. Whether seeking solitude or a family adventure, this region, with its vast frontiers from the White Mountains to the High Sierra, promises unforgettable experiences.

The variety is endless.

 

Guide to Day Hikes in Bishop’s Big Backyard

We’ve created a guide to day hikes in Bishop and our big backyard that lists some of the most easily accessed paths and trails. We’ve grouped the hikes by area: Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, Bishop, and White Mountains.

Each hike has a classification of easy, moderate, or strenuous. Paths that are accessible with adaptive equipment are noted. The difficulty ratings and durations are based on average hiker capability with some experience on nature trails and some capacity at altitude.

Take virtual tour of over 20 day hikes in Bishop’s big backyard. Click Navigate below!

Preparing for Your Hike

Embarking on a hike in the vast wilderness around Bishop means readiness is crucial. Pack the right gear, including water, snacks, and suitable clothing for the Sierra Nevada’s unpredictable weather, and a first-aid kit. Weather conditions can shift, making it essential to review the forecast for the valley and the mountains before setting out—temperature and precipitation can vary drastically at different elevations. This prep ensures not only your enjoyment but safety in this wilderness-draped expanse around our small town.

Equally vital is embracing the Leave No Trace principles. Respect for the pristine natural environment of the Eastern Sierra ensures its beauty endures for future hikers. This approach fosters a sustainable relationship with the Eastern Sierra’s diverse landscapes, from the High Sierra across the Owens Valley to the White Mountains.

Selecting the Right Trail

Finding the perfect trail in Bishop’s expansive backyard requires a balance between time, challenge, scenery, and season. Trails range from downtown paths to rural trails to rugged wilderness routes. And each are subject to the seasons and the topography. Your quest for serenity or adventure starts with knowing the landscape. The Eastern Sierra offers breathtaking views, with the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains framing your journey. Trails here cater to every age and ability, ensuring the entire family can embrace the great outdoors. From front country ease to backcountry exploration, Bishop is the ultimate gateway for day hiking adventures.

Seasonal Considerations

Hike to Long Lake on Bishop Pass Trail from South Lake

The Sierra Nevada, the Owens Valley, and the White Mountains, reveal their beauty in unique ways throughout the year. Spring unfurls with wildflower blooms painting the low country in vivid colors, a sight not to be missed. However, higher trails may remain snowbound until early summer. As summer arrives, the snow melts away, uncovering the full splendor of the wilderness and the profusion of wildflowers and waterfalls is rich in opportunity for exploration. This season is prime for visiting alpine lakes, traversing meadows, and summiting nearby peaks.

This is the time to visit the Ancient Bristlecones and be awed by their age and ability to thrive in the harsh conditions of a cold, windswept mountain top. Fall enchants with its cool air and golden hues, perfect for witnessing the serene beauty of the vibrant aspens in the Eastern Sierra. Winter transforms the landscape into a snowy wonderland, ideal for those prepared with the right gear for cold-weather hiking and snowshoeing. Adventurers should closely monitor weather conditions to ensure trails are safe and accessible.

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Read and study these pages, download the brochures and maps, and plan a trip to Bishop and the Eastern Sierra. Call us: (760) 873-8405, or email us:  and let us help you choose your future adventure. We look forward to meeting you then!

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Adjust Your Altitude

The Sierra Nevada is a hiking mecca. Well known for the John Muir Trail and the highest part of the Pacific Crest Trail that pass by Bishop, this range is internationally renowned for backpacking and long-distance hiking. Even so, there are several short trails and trails that start out with easy to moderate hiking. It’s important to remember, that all the Sierra Nevada trails are located above 8,000-feet and some listed here reach elevations over 11,000-feet.

The trails in White Mountains in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and up to White Mountain Peak are above 10,000-feet with the latter reaching 14,252-feet.

The best way to acclimatize to altitude is to go high, spend a short time in leisurely activity (like picnicking, fishing, or bird watching for example) and then return to a lower elevation. A day later repeat this and do a short, easy hike. Preparing for a longer, more strenuous hike may take a 2-3 days, especially if you have just arrived from sea level. The motto for acclimatization is, “Go high. Sleep low.”

Folks who are not accustomed to altitude may find themselves out of breath soon on trails that would seem to be within their normal capacities. Remember the altitude! Walk slowly, stop often, drink plenty of water, and eat salty snacks. If experiencing any symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, or disorientation—stop immediately, return your vehicle, and drive to a lower elevation. The symptoms should ease significantly within a short period of time, but if symptoms persist, head to the Emergency Room at the Northern Inyo Hospital.

Peaks of the Sierra Nevada from Sierra View Overlook on White Mountain Rd.

Peaks of the Sierra Nevada from Sierra View Overlook on White Mountain Rd.

Leave No Trace

Pack it in, pack it out is more than a mantra; it’s a commitment to leaving the Eastern Sierra as untouched and majestic as you found it. Respect wildlife by observing from a distance, never feed or disturb the natural inhabitants. Trails weave through habitats, offering a glimpse into the wild heart of California, yet our passage should not leave scars. Let’s ensure the spellbinding vistas and vibrant ecosystems of Bishop’s big backyard remain for future generations to marvel at.

Bishop is Pet Friendly

Dog stands on large log at Lake Sabrina, fall aspens on the lakeshore in the background.

Our big backyard is pet friendly Photo: @barkingalltheway

What better way to explore our small town and its big backyard than with your furry companion by your side? Many trails in the area welcome well-behaved canine hikers. But remember, with this pawsome adventure comes responsibility.

First and foremost, ensure your dog is always under your control, either by leash or voice commands. Please always clean up after your pet. Wildlife encounters are a possibility, so keep your dog leashed or trained to stay close to avoid any unwanted interactions. Just like you, keep your pup hydrated and comfortable throughout the hike. Be mindful of the terrain – rocky paths can be sharp or hot on their paws, so choose trails suitable for their footpads and consider dog booties for long hikes or extreme temperatures. By following these guidelines, your Eastern Sierra hike with your dog will be a memorable and enjoyable experience for both of you.

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