Bishop Pass (Joel's Journeys #13)

Submitted by Bubbling Sprin… on Mon, 07/08/2019 - 17:44
Joel and little brother in 1983 in front of lake with snow in the background.

This moderately strenuous hike will take you past some of the most beautiful alpine scenery the Sierra Nevada has to offer.

Take (this route via) Highway 14 past Palmdale all the way to Highway 395. Go north on 395 to Bishop (230 miles from San Fernando Valley). Take Highway 168 west from Bishop for 15 miles to a fork in the road. Then take the south fork, South Lake Rd., to South Lake at just under 10,000 ft.

The trail to Bishop Pass is 6 miles with about a 2,000 foot gain to the top of Bishop Pass at 11,972 feet. The trail passes close to Mount Agassiz, 13,891 ft., and has some incredible lake views as you can see from the pictures. A side trail from the Bishop Pass Trail leads to the slightly easier Treasure Lakes Trail at 10,900 feet.  Because the trail goes up the north side of the mountains, there can still be considerable snow on the trail well into August! That will be the case this year (2019) as the snow pack in the Sierra is way above average.

This post, some previous posts (#1 ,#2#7), and the next few to follow all cover the Sierra Nevada.

Because of the above average snow pack some sections of trails will be more difficult than normal. Streams will be more difficult to cross and snow at the top of passes may be dangerous. Your blogger has no expertise with ice axes and crampons and stays off trails until late in the season when they are not needed. It’s more beautiful this year in the Sierra, but it’s also more dangerous. These warnings are for things you can prepare for when hiking. These areas are also a mere 50-80 miles north of the now famous town of Ridgecrest (epicenter of recent 6.9 and 7.1 magnitude earthquakes) which you will pass just to the west of on the drive up to Bishop on Highway 395. Plate techtonics are responsible for all this great scenery, however the odds of another (>7.0) large earthquake in the area are now down to about 3%. Still, you may prefer to let things cool down seismically some before you set out to explore the area.

Take care and be careful.