Backpack the Piute Pass Trail in the John Muir Wilderness

Rate this Adventure Lake Sabrina Parking, Bishop, California, United States

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    21 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2000 Feet

Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

This trail offers amazing wilderness, spectacular mountain views, and lakes filled with wild trout. On my three day trek, I was able to take some stunning photos, see multiple mule deer near the pass and limit out on trout each day. This is the perfect hike for the minimalist hiker, hunter, or fisherman.

With so many famous hiking trails in the Sierras, its hard to find a trail as isolated as the Piute Pass Trail. This trail allows you to hike in the John Muir Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, and Sierra National Forest in one 20 mile section of trail. You will encounter amazing wilderness, spectacular mountain views, and lakes filled with wild trout.

With the abundance of fresh mountain water, fish and mule deer, you could live the rest of your life in the pass if you chose. With a simple spinning reel or fly rod, you can catch ALL FOUR types of wild mountain trout. For only weighing a pound or two, these fish put up a great fight. Add a warm fire, butter, some spices, whiskey and you have an amazing mountain meal! For the hunter of big game, this section of the sierras is prime for mule deer. With access over the pass via horseback, many hunters were able to pack out there recent kill easily.

If you aren't looking to fish or hunt, this trail is still breathtaking. The trail cuts through thick forest, over a rugged mountain pass, past multiple lakes and into the lush Piute Canyon with waterfalls. Hike in with nothing more than a sleeping bag, ground pad and a fishing pole to test you mountain man/woman skills.

This adventure starts in Bishop California on the 395. Head to the White Mtn Ranger Station to acquire a permit from the park ranger. Grab any last minute supplies, then turn on West Line St (168) and take this for 20 miles to Lake Sabrina. Once near Lake Sabrina turn right on the road towards North Lake and park in the trailhead parking lot. Hike through the North Lake Campsite to find the trail for Piute Pass.

The trail follows the cascading North Fork Lamarck Creek, past Piute Crags, past the beautiful Piute Lake to the 11,423 foot Piute Pass near Mt. Emerson. Continue over the pass into the Sierra NF. All three major lakes, Piute, Summit, and Golden Trout Lakes are loaded with wild trout. Continue down the trail into Piute Canyon and you will find a lush forest thriving with wildlife and small waterfalls.

Depending how far you plan to travel, the trail eventually links up with the Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail. I camped in Hutchinson Meadow area for two nights, then near Piute Lake on the third night. Have fun choosing a new lake along the trail - the trail leads to hundreds of lakes loaded with fish and amazing views!

Pack List

  • Water Sterilization Kit
  • Cooking Spices
  • Good Boots
  • Camera
  • Fishing Pole
  • Sunscreen
  • Tent
  • Backpack
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Fire Starter
  • Ground Pad
  • Down Jacket for Night
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Alex Anderson Explorer

I try to spend every free moment skiing, backpacking, fishing or finding an adrenaline rush!

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