Trail running at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California
Trail running the Kearsarge Pass to Mt. Gould Trail in California's Sierra Nevada
Trail running the Big Pine Creek to Vagabond and Cloud Ripper running tour. Sierra Nevada, California


The runs in the Sierra Trail Runs guidebook are all accessible from the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. These routes span from South to North, between Lone Pine and Bridgeport along Highway 395, and also further east to the White Mountains and Death Valley.


The zone between the towns of Lone Pine and Big Pine is the true High Sierra where trails tend to be rocky, have huge relief, and reach high elevation. The highest point in the continental US is here and many of the runs have the biggest gains per go. Trails in this region are rugged, tough, alpine, and accessed from an area with limited services.


This is the hub of the Eastern Sierra. Bishop’s central location makes it a great place to base for reaching the span of the range. Here the rugged High Sierra begins its taper, providing access to higher elevation runs that escape hot desert summers and to lower elevation trails for year-round running. The biggest town on the Eastside, Bishop, has full resources, micro-breweries, running shops, and world famous climbing and bouldering.


The Mammoth area is best known as a skiing and mountain biking destination. Its summits are a little lower, and the terrain offers softer, friendlier, and more worn trails with plenty of shade. Colder winters and milder summers have trade-off benefits for year-round running.


Tuolumne Meadows is the eastern gateway of Yosemite National Park. It’s a must see destination for its famous domes and grassy meadows. Heading north, the peaks and passes become smaller and lower approaching Bridgeport. With the less dramatic landscape come fewer crowds.


The White and Inyo mountain ranges parallel the Sierra on the eastern side of the Owens Valley. They are stark, barren, and dry. The ancient Bristlecone pines grow here where little else survives. Runs through this wild and raw landscape typically include brutal vertical gain and reach high elevations. Without the sharp spires of the Sierra, they seem less imposing, but wandering their trails reveals just how massive they actually are.


Death Valley is a great place to avoid in the summer. This National Park brags record high temperatures and the lowest elevation in the country. Running through this inhospitable but gorgeous landscape is better done in winter, when some higher areas in the Park are surprisingly cold.

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