GPX Track Downloads
Tungsten City Run
Rossi Hill Route
Pipeline Traverse
Lower Rock Creek
Sun, mountains, beauty, and of course trails – the things a runner may be seeking come January after too many weeks aching for a real mountain run. In the western US, the most idyllic and reliable options that tick the requirements are the southwest desert and Bishop, California.
Primarily known for climbing, Bishop is fast becoming a trail running destination. In all but the snowiest months, December(ish) through June(ish), the Sierra offers endless options of trails and peaks. But even when it’s freezing and the Sierra is buried in snow, there are plenty of options for long days, big vert, and abundant stoke thanks to several lower elevation, open mountain groups that bake in the seemingly endless winter sun. Paradise found.


Basecamp Bishop

Warm & dry beneath the cold & windy

The eastside of the Sierra Crest rises above Interstate 395 between Lone Pine to about Bridgeport, a distance of 150 miles. At the southern end directly above Lone Pine, is the Lower 48’s highest summit, Mt. Whitney. Continuing north to Bridgeport reveals a continual softening of the mountains as they become less dramatic and much lower. The landscape is wide open, sometimes barren, sometimes forested, always rugged. In places, rising columns of steam mark the many hot springs dotting the high caldera, and above it all the Sierra always stands, lit in the first morning sun, carving a dark silhouette in the evening. Right in the middle sits Bishop, famous for both bouldering and Mule Days. Two very different pleasures that somehow happily coexist in the high desert. Climbers come from all over the world to experience the boulders while in May, a very different crowd comes to parade their genetically confused livestock. Now, more and more, the runners are coming for the Bishop trail running basecamp.


Trail running in the Tungsten Hills outside Bishop, California on a cold winter day

Trail running in the Tungsten Hills outside Bishop, California on a cold winter day

Sitting directly beneath the Sierra is a sea of sage and granite, the Buttermilks, loaded with running potential. To the south and west of town are hillsides covered in trails. And to the east of town the White Mountains offer as much as 10,000 feet of relief..


On the east side of town are the Poleta Hills known for steep, big vert, silent and even warmer trails

For the visiting runner, there are plenty of hotels, a hostel, Airbnbs and campgrounds. As Bishop grows, so too come the breweries and cafes. Town has no shortage of quirk, amenities, and is a mecca for mountain sport athletes. Of particular interest is the fact that there are more than 300 days of sunshine each year. Sierra Trail Runs : A Guide to the Eastside has nine winter runs around Bishop with six more higher above town for the summer months. The guidebook has all the information and maps for these runs.


Bishop Winter Introductory Trail Runs

The Rossi Loop is the closest trailhead to the town of Bishop

Rossi Hill Loop : Less than five minutes from downtown, Rossi Hill is the quickest access to trails through the sage and granite boulders that Bishop is known for. This 5.5 mile/1200’ vert trail run is a true winter run and serves as an ideal introduction to the Bishop winter landscape.
Rossi Hill GPX

In the Tungsten City playground

Tungsten City Loop : The Tungsten Hills sit directly beneath the Sierra skyline towering above Bishop and are laced with trails and 4wd roads. With all the options, it’s a playground for winter trail running. The Tungsten City Loop is a 4 mile/850’ vert that’ll get you closer to the big mountains and easily let you add on as much additional running as you desire.
Tungsten GPX
Lower Rock Creek Bishop trail running

Lush green, birds chirping, flowing water, and shade for Lower Rock Creek trail running

Lower Rock Creek : Nestled into the river canyon below Paradise, just north of Bishop on 395, is the trailhead to the Lower Rock Creek Trail. This trail is unusual for the region in that it is mostly shaded until mid-day, making it the perfect summer morning run. But, for winter visits, it gets enough sun and is low enough to make it a go to classic. Running out and back, you can turn around either at the very top of the canyon, making it 15.5 mile with 2570 feet of gain or turn around at the first road crossing, making it 9 miles with 1650 feet of gain. Of course you can turn around 300 feet into it if you choose, but it’s nice to have goals. The trail is a beautiful cruise through boulders and big trees alongside Lower Rock Creek, and is surprisingly lush given that the rim, just above, is high desert. Head’s up for mountain bikers, they love to ride it fast.
Lower Rock Creek GPX
Trail running Bishop Pipeline trail

Good altitude training a little bit of everything trail running Bishop Pipeline

Pipeline : 20 minutes up Hwy 168 west of Bishop is the start of the Pipeline Trail, easily identified by the massive pipeline rising above the road. But, pay attention, there are two pipelines, the second is your start which is accessed just a few hundred feet further west of the turn off for South Lake. The route is a combination of dirt roads and trails and takes you through some diverse landscapes; from Bishop sage, to burns, to old growth, to high tundra like terrain at the beginning of your descent. All this with views of the classic Bishop skyline, Humphrey’s, Basin and Tom, above and the Buttermilks below. The route is on a section of the Bishop High Sierra Ultra course and is a 10 mile/1900 foot gain loop. Pay attention to the GPX track, this one has some turns.
Pipeline GPX

Things to Enjoy in Bishop