Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
9,542.00 ft (2,908.40 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
44.70 mi (71.94 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Bishop Pass to Wanda Lake is a 44.7-mile out-and-back journey through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, offering some of the most stunning landscapes in California's High Sierra. This trek is a challenging yet rewarding experience, ideal for backpackers seeking an alpine escape with breathtaking views and unmatched natural surroundings.

The trail begins at the Bishop Pass Trailhead, located near South Lake in the Eastern Sierra, just outside of Bishop, California. Starting from the trailhead, the route ascends towards Bishop Pass, traversing lush alpine forests and open meadows. The path is well-marked and offers a gradual climb, with stunning views of surrounding peaks and valleys as you approach the pass.

Bishop Pass, at an elevation of approximately 11,972 feet, is the highest point on this trek. It offers panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada, including notable peaks like Mount Agassiz and Mount Winchell. From the pass, the trail descends into Dusy Basin, a picturesque area known for its high-altitude lakes and towering granite walls.

As you continue along the John Muir Trail (JMT), the route winds through LeConte Canyon, with stunning vistas of cascading waterfalls and lush vegetation. You’ll cross into Kings Canyon National Park and begin the ascent towards Muir Pass, passing through breathtaking scenery of alpine lakes, creeks, and dense forests.

The approach to Wanda Lake involves a gradual climb through Evolution Basin, where you'll encounter several alpine lakes. Wanda Lake, at an elevation of approximately 11,426 feet, is named after one of John Muir's daughters and offers a serene setting amid towering peaks. It's a perfect spot for a rest, and a great place to camp, with its clear waters and peaceful surroundings.

FLORA AND FAUNA
This trek features a rich variety of flora, including pine, fir, and aspen trees, along with alpine wildflowers in the summer months. Wildlife sightings may include mule deer, marmots, and various bird species, such as Clark's nutcrackers and mountain bluebirds. 

SAFETY AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Weather: The High Sierra is known for its rapidly changing weather. Be prepared for sudden storms, high winds, and cooler temperatures, especially at higher elevations.

  • Altitude: The high elevation of this route requires proper acclimation. 

  • Water: Although water is abundant along the trail, always treat or filter it before drinking.

CAMPING AND PERMITS

  • Permits: A wilderness permit is required for overnight camping in the John Muir Wilderness and Kings Canyon National Park. Apply in advance, as permits can be limited, especially during peak season.

  • Camping: There are designated camping areas along the route, particularly in Dusy Basin and near Wanda Lake. Follow Leave No Trace principles and camp at least 200 feet from water sources.

PARKING

Parking is available at the Bishop Pass Trailhead near South Lake. Arrive early to secure a spot, especially during peak hiking season.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For more information on permits, camping, and trail conditions, visit the Inyo National Forest website.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

3

Pros

Scenic Vistas. Singletrack Trail. Access to Peaks and Basins. Alpine Lakes.

Cons

Permit requires advanced planning.

Trailhead Elevation

9,748.00 ft (2,971.19 m)

Highest point

11,953.00 ft (3,643.27 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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