The Long Lake via Bishop Pass Trail is a hiking adventure that should be on every nature enthusiast’s bucket list. This trailhead, located approximately 22 miles from the town of Bishop, serves as the gateway to a world of natural wonders.
Your journey begins at the Bishop Pass Trailhead, where you’ll find ample parking facilities. The trailhead’s starting point is situated at South Lake, the southern fork of Bishop Creek. The trailhead begins at an elevation of 9,755 feet, at South Lake. The picturesque lake owes its existence to a modest dam positioned on its northern shore, which serves as a vital conduit for the lake’s waters as they flow into the south fork of Bishop Creek. South Lake is a beauty to behold.
This man-made marvel has carved a niche for itself as a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re an avid camper, a seasoned hiker, a fishing aficionado, or someone with an inclination for serene boating experiences, South Lake has something to offer everyone.
Starting out on Bishop Trail Pass
As you set foot on the Bishop Pass Trail, you’ll quickly discover why it’s one of the Eastern Sierra’s most sought-after routes. Beyond the initial allure of South Lake, this trail promises an awe-inspiring adventure filled with mesmerizing vistas and encounters with pristine alpine lakes. One of the trail’s unique aspects is its versatility. Whether you’re planning a brisk day hike or a multi-day backpacking excursion, the Bishop Pass Trail caters to your preferences.
At the top of the parking area you’ll find the Bishop Pass Trailhead. From this trailhead, adventure seekers can embark on various hiking journeys, including the Treasure Lakes Trail, Chocolate Lakes Loop, and the mesmerizing Long Lake, among others. However, while the trails offer rewarding experiences, it’s important to consider the unique challenges presented by the high-altitude terrain.
The hike originating from the Bishop Pass Trailhead is rated as moderate in terms of difficulty, but it’s vital to account for the significant elevation gain during your ascent. Starting at an elevation of around 9,755 feet, you’ll ascend approximately 2,000 feet, reaching nearly 11,000 feet when you finally arrive at Long Lake. Throughout our trek, our Altitude app registered altitudes as high as 10,800 feet, highlighting the substantial change in elevation. At such heights, some individuals may experience symptoms of altitude sickness. So, it’s essential to be mindful of your body’s response to the increasing altitude.
The Trail to Long Lake
The trail to Long Lake spans a distance of 2.4 miles each way, and the round-trip journey typically takes around 2 to 3 hours, depending on your pace and the stops you make along the way. Despite the varying terrain, the trail is well-marked, ensuring you stay on the right path. However, keep a watchful eye out for trail markers at junctions, particularly when the path forks.
To reach Long Lake, you’ll need to follow the markers indicating “Bishop Pass” rather than those leading to “Chocolate Lakes” or “Treasure Lakes.”
Along the way, you’ll encounter several charming small bridges that add to the trail’s scenic allure.
During our October hike, the weather exhibited its transitional nature, reminding us to prepare adequately. It’s advisable to dress in layers, as temperatures can fluctuate, and you may encounter cooler conditions, especially as you gain altitude. Additionally, bringing water and some light snacks is a prudent choice to stay energized throughout the hike. To ensure comfort and stability, don sturdy hiking shoes and consider using trekking poles, which can provide added support, especially on uneven terrain. They are particularly useful on the downhill portion of the hike.
Our October journey was mercifully mosquito-free, but it’s worth noting that during the warmer months, these pesky insects can become a nuisance from what we have read online. Therefore, be sure to pack insect repellent if you plan to explore this trail in peak mosquito season.
Arriving at Long Lake
Upon your arrival at Long Lake, the effort expended on the trail is richly rewarded by the stunning beauty that unfolds before you. Even in October, the remnants of the previous winter’s snow still clung to the mountain peaks, creating a striking contrast against the vibrant alpine scenery. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk along the lake, as every angle offers a new perspective.
Along the way, you’ll encounter a distinctive rock bridge, which, while not overly challenging to cross with care, warrants a measured approach. Be sure to take turns and exercise caution to ensure a safe and enjoyable crossing for everyone in your party.
We spent about an hour walking around, looking, taking pictures and just exploring before heading back down the trail. Our return journey was somewhat quicker, but we still took our time to admire the scenery and take a last look at South Lake before reaching the parking lot.
We took a lot of pictures, but none of them are able to truly show you the beauty and incredible feeling that we had while on this adventure. You have to see it for yourself.
Long Lake Via Bishop Pass Trailhead Review
10/10, this was one of the best day hikes I have ever done. My wife agreed as well. The scenery was breathtaking, and the trail was well-maintained and easy to follow. Bishop Pass Trail is truly a gem of the region, offering an unforgettable outdoor adventure for all who journey upon it. I highly recommend this hike to anyone exploring in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Bishop Pass Trail offers a diverse range of experiences, from the tranquil waters of South Lake to the breathtaking views at Long Lake. No matter your skill level or preferred length of hike, this trail has something for everyone to enjoy.