South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail

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  • Signage at the trailhead.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Trail directions to Bishop Pass and Chocolate Lake.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Drought has heavily impacted South Lake's water level.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • The Bishop Pass Trail enters the John Muir Wilderness.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Saddlerock and Bishop lakes.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Chocolate Peak (11,682').- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Bishop Pass approach in the fall.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Fall foliage on the Bishop Pass Trail.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Bishop Pass Trail in the fall.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Bishop Pass Trail.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Long Lake. - South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • A lake reflection following a late fall storm.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Bishop Pass Trail- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Switchbacks approach the pass.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • Camping beside an unnamed lake in Bishop Pass.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • A storm approaches Bishop Pass.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • A wintery scene following a fall storm on Bishop Pass.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • The camp is dusted with snow following the storm.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
  • A lone tent in a wintry landscape near Bishop Pass.- South Lake, Bishop Pass Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Epic views. Beautiful lakes. Maintained trail.
Cons: 
Can be busy in the summer.
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Region:
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,200.00 ft (670.56 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
11.00 mi (17.70 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,850.00 ft (3,002.28 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Anyone who is looking to go on their first backpacking trip should consider this trail. It is easily accessible from the town of Bishop, where you can spend a night before hitting the trail. The parking lot can fill in the summer, so getting there early can be useful. 

The trailhead is equipped with a restroom and bear boxes to store your scented items that you won't need on the trail. It's highly recommended to use the bear box to store these items in lieu of leaving them in your car. In active bear country like the Sierra, cars can sustain damage from curious bears. 

South Lake is visible to the right from the South Lake Trailhead. This large lake has been heavily impacted by California's ongoing drought, and the waterline has receded greatly. Continue a few more miles to find Long Lake, the first of many lakes on this trail. Along the trail you'll find a little detour for Ruwau Lake, and for anyone who needs more challenges, the route to Chocolate Peak extends beyond Ruwau Lake. Keep following the Bishop Pass Trail and you will pass Saddlerock Lake and Bishop Lake before reaching the base of the pass. Overnight hikers can camp by the small lake at the base of Mount Agassiz just a short off-trail hike from the pass or continue following the trail toward Dusy Basin. For those that are out for the day, the pass is a beautiful place to rest and enjoy the views of the lakes along the trail. 

Summer is an excellent time time to hike this trail, and it is exceptionally beautiful in the fall when the foliage stands out against the blue water of these high lakes. If you can access this area in early winter, the pristine scenery extends as far as the eye can see.

 

 

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(16 within a 30 mile radius)

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(35 within a 30 mile radius)

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