Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
5,305.00 ft (1,616.96 m)
Trail type
15.60 mi (25.11 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.

The hike from Lamarck to Darwin Bench is a 15.6 mile out and back route that offers an exhilarating journey through the pristine wilderness of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. This picturesque route can be tackled as a challenging day hike or overnight adventure for outdoor enthusiasts seeking stunning alpine scenery and challenging terrain.

Beginning at the North Lake Campground, located near the town of Bishop, California, hikers are immediately immersed in the breathtaking beauty of the Sierra Nevada landscape. The trail winds its way through dense pine forests and along rushing mountain streams, providing ample opportunities to spot native wildlife such as mule deer, golden eagles, and perhaps even the elusive black bear.

As the trail ascends steadily towards Lamarck Col, hikers are treated to sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, including the towering summits of Mount Darwin and Mount Mendel. The rugged beauty of the high alpine terrain is truly awe-inspiring, with jagged granite peaks and pristine alpine lakes dotting the landscape.

Upon reaching Lamarck Col, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the Evolution Basin and the iconic Evolution Lake below. This stunning alpine vista is the perfect spot to take a break, enjoy a snack, and soak in the tranquility of the surrounding wilderness.

From Lamarck Col, the trail descends steeply into Darwin Canyon, where hikers will traverse rocky switchbacks and rugged terrain as they make their way towards Darwin Bench. Along the way, hikers will pass through meadows ablaze with wildflowers during the summer months, adding a splash of color to the already spectacular scenery.

Finally, after several miles of challenging hiking, adventurers will arrive at Darwin Bench, a secluded alpine plateau nestled beneath the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada. Here, hikers can set up camp, explore the surrounding area, and marvel at the beauty of their surroundings. With its stunning vistas, rugged terrain, and abundant wildlife, the hike from Lamarck to Darwin Bench is sure to be an unforgettable adventure for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.



A backcountry permit is required for camping and can be accessible via:

Bear canisters are strongly recommended for most of this area and may be required in certain parts. Always check with the forest service for updated regulations and details before setting out for your trip.


Day use and overnight parking is available at the North Lake parking area. If you are parking at the campground there is a fee. There is no fee, however, for the regular hiker parking area located about 1 mile south of the trailhead. 


For detailed information about the location, weather, and permits contact: 

White Mountain Visitor Center: 1-(760) 873-2500

Wilderness Permit Information: 1-(760) 873-2483

Inyo National Forest:

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Scenic Vistas. Alpine Meadows. Alpine Lakes.


Advanced planning and permit needed for backcountry camping.

Trailhead Elevation

9,374.00 ft (2,857.20 m)

Highest point

12,895.00 ft (3,930.40 m)


Backcountry camping
Near lake or river
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping

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


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