lamarck lake, hike in bishop, eastern sierra nevada mountains

Lamarck Lake Hike in Bishop

HIKE TO: Lower Lamarck Lake
TRAIL: Piute Pass/ Lamarck Lake Trail
TRAILHEAD: North Lake in Bishop, CA
MILES: 3.68 miles out and back
TIME: 1:06 hr one way
DATE I WENT: 9/8/19
DIFFICULTY: moderate - strenuous
HIKE PERMIT: not for day hikes
LOCATION: Eastern Sierra, Inyo National Forest

Lamarck Lake is a good hike in John Muir Wilderness for those looking for a short and steep hike in Bishop near the Lake Sabrina area. The trail is only 1.38 miles to reach the beginning of Lamarck Lake, but it’s a lot of elevation gain in a short distance. I like to think of this as a quick workout on the last morning before going home from a Sierra trip.

Where is Lamarck Lake?

Lamarck Lake is located The trailhead starts from North Lake Campground and there are two parking lots next to North Lake: a small day-use parking lot and a larger hiker parking lot when you continue to drive around to the other side of North Lake. From the parking lot, the trailhead is about a 5-10 min walk to the west end of North Lake Campground where the restrooms are.

Lamarck Lakes Trail

The trail to Lamarck Lake shares the same trailhead as Piute Pass, but the trail to Lamarck Lakes splits off to the left shortly after you start – there is an obvious trail sign at the junction.

The trail to Lower Lamarck Lake starts off through a dense forest with pine trees and aspen trees, but with the steep elevation gain, you’ll start to climb higher and see views of the valley below along with views of the red cliffs of the Piute Crags. You can even see North Lake when you look back.

Just over halfway on this hike, there is a short 0.2 mi side trail to Grass Lake. Grass Lake is unlike your typical alpine lakes in the Eastern Sierra – it’s not surrounded directly by granite, but instead by marshy grass. It’s a nice little detour if you have the time.

After just over an hour of hiking, we reached Lamarck Lake in Bishop which sits at 10,708 ft. The lake is surrounded by Eastern Sierra’s famed granite rock, jagged peaks, and cliffs.

You can also continue to follow the trail up to Upper Lamarck Lake which is about a mile further just above Lower Lamarck Lake. If you have time, the hike to Wonder Lakes is supposed to be really pretty from here however, there is no maintained trail to Wonder Lakes beyond Lower Lamarck Lake so you’ll need a good sense of cross-country hiking.

lower lamarck lake, hike in bishop

Places to Stay in Bishop

  • Quality Inn Bishop: this is a “budget-friendly” motel that’s a good option if you’re not looking for anything fancy. The rooms are more updated for a one-star hotel and spacious. There’s free breakfast but don’t expect much, has free wifi, and it’s pet-friendly.
  • Creekside Inn: this hotel is nicer and offers a different vibe than the rest. It is tranquil with a creek running through it, very comfortable and clean, has outdoor fire pits, free wifi and breakfast, and is conveniently located on Main Street and right next to Erick Shat’s Bakery. This is my favorite place in Bishop to stay if I’m not camping.
  • Vagabond Inn: closely located to Vons, this inn is simple, clean, and comfortable, has free breakfast, wifi, and won’t break the bank.

Check out my Hwy 395 Road Trip Guide to help you plan your trip from Southern California.

Best Time to Hike in Bishop

Fall is the best season to hike in Bishop because of all the Aspen trees. Fall foliage typically happens in October which makes this the prime time to hike if you want to see Fall colors and North Lake is one of the most popular shots for an epic Fall color photo – click here to see other places to find Fall colors in the Eastern Sierra Mountains.

If you want to enjoy an alpine lake swim while the weather is still hot, visit from July – Sept, but make sure you start your hike early in the summer as it gets warm early.

ryan-chen-unsplash north lake campground bishop
North Lake Campground by Ryan Chen

Hiking Gear for Eastern Sierra Day Hike to Lakes

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