When I began to plan my adventures for the summer, Bishop Pass quickly skyrocketed to the top of my to-do list. The massive winter we experienced, along with the incoming Hurricane Hilary, tried to throw a wrench into my plans but ended up resulting in an incredibly epic hiking experience.

We reserved a campsite at Bishop Park Campground, serving as base camp for a weekend full of hiking. I highly recommend Bishop Park Campground. Great location close to both the town of Bishop and Lake Sabrina, with easy access to a multitude of trails in this portion of the Eastern Sierra.

We arrived to the Bishop Pass trailhead at approximately 8:30 AM, located directly at Lake Sabrina. There was adequate parking; we found a spot easily and headed out on our adventure.

Bishop Pass Trail is appropriately considered a hard hike. Plan for a full day of hiking, our day clocking in at around 11.7 miles round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 2,400’.

The beginning portion of the trail beautifully winds around the rim of Lake Sabrina as we were rewarded with incredible views very early on, which only added to the excitement of discovering the rest of the trail.

After hiking 2 miles, we reached Long Lake, a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by those notorious rocky peaks of the Eastern Sierra, still blanketed with snow. A highlight in this area was the views of Hurd Peak, which hovers over the lake at 12,182’. 

We continued on along the trail, which surpassed a series of lakes, including Saddlerock Lake and Bishop Lake, all enamored with captivating beauty. The kind of beauty that photos can’t possibly come close to capturing. During this portion of the trail, we began to encounter quite a few areas of the trail still covered in watermelon snow, which was a very welcomed and unexpected highlight. Watermelon snow is a unique phenomenon caused by Chlamydomonas Nivalis, an algae that thrives in colder temperatures and is prevalent in the Eastern Sierra during the summer months, especially at altitudes above 10,000’.

After passing Bishop Lake, at around 4.5 miles along the trail, we reached the final trek up to the pass, which includes a series of challenging switchbacks and rock scrambles.

At 5.8 miles, we reached the pass. We were immediately rewarded with some of the most incredible views of the Eastern Sierra that I have had the opportunity to witness in my travels thus far, as well as views of Kings Canyon National Park. Bishop Pass sits comfortably at an elevation of 11,972’. We hiked on a bit further, entering King’s Canyon National Park and crossing the 12,000’ elevation mark before finding a scenic spot to enjoy lunch and rest our legs in preparation for the descent back down.

Eventually, the beautiful blue skies began to fill with clouds as the first bands of Hurricane Hilary began to make their way into the area. Gratefully, we made it back to the car prior to the rainstorm that was awaiting for us that evening.

For any of you able to make the trip to Bishop Pass in these next couple of months before the snow returns, you are in for a treat. A quintessential Eastern Sierra trail. 10/10!

Craig Cooper

Craig Cooper

A native Texan, I spent a large majority of my childhood in the outdoors and my admiration for nature and landscapes developed at an early age. I quickly found myself forming a profound connection to our planet and nature. As I entered my teenage years I developed a love for photography, photographing local events for my school yearbook and newspaper publications, and that passion has only grown stronger since. Now based in the Lake Tahoe area in Northern California, I continue to strive to provide high quality imagery and artwork to my customers, highlighting the natural beauty and diversity that our planet has to offer. I am grateful to have the opportunity to share my adventures with my loyal readers, bringing you along my journey to explore the world.

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