Big Pine Area Campground
Inyo National Forest
Big Pine Canyon Trails
In the Eastern Sierra, glaciation, volcanism and faulting
has created a landscape of exposed soil and rock. Wind
and water erosion has also helped to expose mineral
and geological structures for easy observation and collection.
Rockhounds can find a wide variety of minerals here:
agate, amethyst, crystal beryl, chalcedony, flourite,
gamets, geodes, gold, Iceland spar, jasper, lazulite,
lepidolite, obsidian, trydymite, turquoise and more.
Anglers will find countless waters to fish in the Big
Pine area, from roadside streams to barely accessible
high mountain lakes.
From opening day in late April to closing day at the
end of October, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, creeks and
streams abound with fourteen species of fish, including
five breeds of trout: Golden, Cutthroat, Rainbow, Brown
and Eastern Brook.
Warm water fish include large mouth bass, channel catfish,
bluegill and perch.
Accessible areas are stocked regularly by the Califomia
Department of Fish and Game with catchable-size trout
all through fishing season.
There are many fishermen's trails along Big Pine Creek
and streams run through most local campgrounds. Baker
Creek campground has two well-stocked ponds.
Floating / Tubing the Owens River
Tubing the Owens River is a great way to spend part
or all of a day for the whole family. Simply bring or
buy an inner tube for each person. Most service stations
in the area have used tubes available and can direct
you to the best locations to begin and end your floating
adventure. Bring a small floatable ice chest to carry
food and drink and enjoy a leisurely float down a slow
river in the sun.
Only three miles north of Big Pine, this small lake
is a popular local spot for swimming, water-skiing,
sailing and wind-surfing.
Big Pine Canyon
Big Pine Canyon is a narrow and dramatic glacier-carved
canyon with family and group campgrounds located along
Big Pine Creek. Hiking trails into the John Muir Wilderness
lead to numerous lakes, streams, and high peaks. A pack
station and resort provide public services. Big Pine
Canyon is also the home of the Palisade Glacier. This
ice age remnant is the southem most glacier in the United
States. The largest of the glaciers in the Big Pine
area of the Sierra, Palisade Glacier, is estimated to
be about two miles in length and several hundred feet
To access the Big Pine Canyon recreation area from
Highway 395, turn west on Crocker Street in Big Pine
and continue nine miles up canyon to road's end. Trailhead,
overnight and day use parking areas are clearly marked.
The North Fork trail offers access to Big Pine Lakes
and the Palisades Glacier. The Palisade Crest averages
14,000 feet and is a favorite as one of the finest alpine
climbing areas in Califomia. The trail zigzags through
a slope of sage, manzanita and Jeffrey Pine before it
reaches the 2nd falls and follows along the creek to
its headwaters. Hikers will pass a stone cabin built
by movie actor Lon Chaney while walking through a forest
of lodgepole pine. The main trail will take hikers past
First Lake, Second Lake and Third Lake, which are fed
directly from the Palisades Glacier, causing their milky
turquoise color from the glacial powder carried down
from the grinding and melting glacier. The imposing
dark mountain above Third Lake is Temple Crag.
Fishing enthusiasts can find Rainbow trout in most
of the lakes in the canyon, with the higher lakes containing
The trail to the Palisades Glacier is about one half
mile above Third Lake. The switchbacks lead through
grassy benches and boulders to Sam Mack Meadow. The
final half mile to the glacier requires much boulder
hopping and the trail is very obscure. Hikers can meander
safely along the lower part of the glacier where the
slope is gentle, but should avoid the upper reaches
unless well experienced on ice and snow.
The South Fork trail climbs up beneath the jagged peaks
of the Palisade Crest and gives access to the Middle
Palisade Glacier. Along the trail are a few gnarled
Limber Pines growing on the steep slopes below Willow
Lake. The few lakes in the South Fork of Big Pine Canyon
contain both Brook and Golden Trout. Brainard Lake is
a favorite of those seeking to catch the prized golden.
Bristlecone Pine Forest
Of the many scenic wonders found within the lnyo National
Forest, one of the most amazing is the Ancient Bristlecone
Pine Forest, located between 10,000 and 11,000 ft. in
the White Mountains, east of the Sierra Nevada.
From Big Pine
Marble Canyon - 22 Miles - Death Valley Road
to Saline Valley Road, tum right. This mining area is
dotted with old mines and remnants of miner's shacks.
Some mines are still in operation.
Saline Valley - 60 Miles - Many hot pools and
historic remnants and mines.
Joshua Tree Forest - 22 Miles - An unusually
large stand of Joshua trees. Especially spectacular
in the May-June blooming season.
National Park - North Entrance - 34 Miles -
Enter the Park on the scenic and historic Death Valley
Road. Most of the roadway inside the Oark boundary is
unpaved as of this time.
Eureka Snd Dunes - 50 Miles - The highest dunes
in the country. Camping and picnic grounds.
Sulphur Pits - 45 Miles - This old sulphur mine
features yellow and green sulphur chunks pure enough
to burn and melt into red liquid when ignited. Use caution.
Scotty's Castle - 75 Miles - Popular historic
tourist stop in the north end of Death Valley.
Driving to the South
Fish Springs Fish Hatchery - 6 Miles - Learn
about the fish rearing process.
Fish Springs Petroglyph Sites - 8 Miles - Explore
the art of the ancient Indians.
Wildlife Viewpoint - 9 Miles - View the Tule
Elk herd at Tinnemaha Reservoir.
Black Rock Fish Hatchery - 14 Miles - Observe
the fish rearing process.
Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery - 22 Miles - The beautiful
and historic hatchery building and ponds make this the
most popular site of its kind. Large trout in the pond
may be fed food provided in vending machines.
- 24 Miles - County seat and historical center graced
by historical buildings, including the courthouse and
Eastern Sierra Museum - 25 Miles - Collections
and displays illustrating the history of the Owens Valley
and Eastem Sierra life in the early days of the old
west. Old buildings and equipment. A National Historic
Monument, this is the site of one of ten camps that
confined Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Alabama Hills - 40 Miles - These fascinating
hills and their unusual rocky formations have been the
location for many westem movies and are highlighted
by the Lone Pine Film Festival each fall.
- 46 Miles - Southemmost town in the Owens Valley features
a Film Festival in the fall of each year, gateway to
the Alabama Hills, west entrance road to Death Valley
National Park, and is in the shadow of Mt. Whitney,
the highest peak in the contiguous United States.
Whitney Portal - 60 Miles - Turn west in Lone
Pine, through the Alabama Hills. Trailhead to Mt. Whitney.
Cottonwood Charcoal Kilns - 57 Miles - Ruins
of kilns used to make charcoal used in smelting raw
ore taken from nearby mines.
Driving to the West
Big Pine Volcanic Fields and Crater Mountain
- 3 Miles - Turn on MacMurray Meadow Road, just past
the first bridge crossing Big Pine Creek. Explore this
extinct volcanic area by truck, 4-wheel drive, motorcycle,
bicycle or by hiking. Lava tubes and old mines and flora
Palisades Glacier Trailhead - 10 Miles - Hike
to Big Pine Lakes and Palisades Glaciers.
Glacier Lodge - 11 Miles - Historic resort,
trout pond, and ranger programs.
Driving to the North
Klondike Lake - 3 Miles - This shallow lake
has sandy beaches for the kids and is popular for swimming,
water skiing and wind sailing. No fishing here.
Keough Hot Springs - 8 Miles - Natural hot springs
Bishop - 15
Miles - Largest town in Inyo County. As the "Mule
Capital of the World", Bishop features the "Mule
Days" celebration every Memorial Day Weekend and
a Rodeo every Labor Day Weekend.
Laws Railroad Museum - 20 Miles - Tribute to
the "Slim Princess" and the good old days
in the Owens Valley. Trains and authentic old buildings
and equipment on exhibit.
Montgomery Pass - 60 Miles Via Hwy 6 - Nearest
Nevada gambling casino.
- 40 Miles - Favorite and traditional spot of "opening
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area - 60 MILES - Califomia's
finest high-mountain ski resorts. Lifts are open in
summer months for tours to the top of the mountain and
a spectacular view of the Sierra and White Mountains.
En route, visit the Earthquake Fault and catch the tour
bus to Devil's Postpile National Monument.
Craters - 70 Miles - Glass-like boulders of
obsidian are a fascinating contrast to the types of
volcanic material found in other volcanic areas.
Craters - 80 Miles - These craters are considered
to be active. Feather-light pumice rock is abundant
in and around the craters. This area overlooks Mono
- 90 Miles - Picturesque hillside town at the intersection
of Hwy 120 to Yosemite via Tioga Pass.
- 95 Miles - This prehistoric lake is the subject of
widespread environmental concem. A new visitor center
overlooks the lake and its large tufa pillar formations.
Bodie Ghost Town
- 115 Miles - This authentic and impressive ghost town
is the finest in the west, with over 100 standing buildings
and no commercial amenities. It is well worth the drive.
Be sure to take the camera!
Driving to the East
Owens River - 2 Miles - Zurich bridge area is
popular for fishing, swimming and launching rafts.
Owens Valley Radio Telescopes - 7 Miles - Where
the scientists listen to the sounds of outer space.
Toll Station Historical Site - 10 Miles - On
the old Westgard Pass Road, now Route 168.
Sierra Viewpoint - 23 Miles - Most spectacular
views of the Sierra from 9,000 ft. elevation. Maps and
viewing scopes assist in identifying peaks on the Sierra
Deep Springs College - 26 Miles - An all-male two year liberal arts college located on a cattle-ranch and alfalfa farm in California's High Desert, that prepares young men for careers of service to humanity. The school's 26 students, along with its staff and faculty, form a close community engaged in this intense project. It operates on the belief that manual labor and political deliberation are integral parts of a comprehensive liberal arts education.