Backpacker Magazine Bishop, CA: Horton Lake 

Bypass the weekend crowds on this 8.6-mile hike past old mining claims to a campsite near Horton Lake.

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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 16 May 2008 4:00:35 PM
Activity: Backpacking
State: California (CA)
Distance: 4.32 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 2524 ft
Total Loss: 325 ft
Net Change: 2199 ft
Difficulty: 8 / 10
USGS Topo Map: Mount Tom, Tungston Hills
Tags: Bishop, California, sierra nevada mountains
Rating:   3 rating(s) Rate it

From the locked access gate, hike northwest along the dirt road and quickly climb into an unnamed valley, flanked by Basin Mountain and Mount Tom. At Horton Creek, pass through a small meadow protected from the harsh wind that’s common in the valley—a great place to set up camp. The climb continues to 10,000 feet before a short descent to two old miner’s cabins at Hanging Valley Mine. Turn left onto a faint fisherman’s trail and parallel Horton Lake to a campsite near the waters edge (there are several sandy tent spots and a well-used fire pit). Grab your fishing pole and explore the surrounding area before retracing your steps back to the access gate and your car.

Mapped by Rick Schneck

TO TRAILHEAD: From Bishop, Drive on CA 168/W. Line St. In 7.3 mi., turn right onto Buttermilk Rd. Go 5.9 mi., and turn right onto an unnamed dirt road. Park 4.5 mi. in the dirt turnout.

Optional: To start the hike at Waypoint 2, continue 0.4 mile to the locked access gate. A 4WD vehicle required.

Position Format: Datum:

Horton Lake

Distance: 4.32 mi Points: 338
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest

Horton Meadow

Location: 37.320408, -118.634453

First Switchback

Location: 37.314888, -118.626991

Hill Near Horton Lake

Location: 37.319878, -118.661514

Ore Chute at Hanging Valley Mine

Location: 37.319645, -118.663101

Hanging Valley Mine Cabins

Location: 37.319702, -118.662216
One of the cabins remains unlocked in case of an emergency.

Valley Views

Location: 37.313011, -118.626526

Reflection Pond

Location: 37.317120, -118.661926
Only full during wet years, this pond is crystal clear.

Horton Creek

Location: 37.321228, -118.634041

Views Near Horton Lake

Location: 37.321228, -118.649010
Horton Lake is just beyond the trees.

Favorite Fishing Spot

Location: 37.315826, -118.665390

Meadow Near Sonny Boy Cabin

Location: 37.321877, -118.631218

Horton Lake

Location: 37.316120, -118.668327


Location: 37.311481, -118.623238
Continue straight through the gate at the trailhead.

Views to Bishop

Location: 37.321228, -118.631340


Location: 37.311008, -118.618500
Park in the dirt turnout and begin hiking northwest along the road. Note: It is possible to continue driving further; however, high-clearance vehicles are recommended.


Location: 37.311344, -118.622963
A locked access gate marks the boundary of Inyo National Forest. Continue hiking northwest on the road.


Location: 37.321682, -118.630905
Sonny Boy Prospect Cabin: This small (and locked) cabin sits adjacent to Horton Creek on the edge of a small meadow. Since the trail can be hot during summer months, weekender's sometimes camp here on Friday night to break up the 5-mile hike.


Location: 37.321529, -118.633957
Cross a wood bridge over Horton Creek.


Location: 37.322495, -118.633400
Head 100 yards upstream from the wood bridge to find several swimming holes.


Location: 37.319901, -118.634567
Follow Horton Creek (home to wild brook trout) upstream into a large meadow.


Location: 37.319656, -118.662407
Two cabins from the Hanging Valley Mine are located on the left side of the road. Turn left and parallel the lake hiking on a faint fisherman's trail. Note: One of the cabins remains unlocked in case of an emergency.


Location: 37.317829, -118.662155
Continue over the small outlet stream to the campsite.


Location: 37.315723, -118.664406
This campsite has sandy soil for tents, shade from the sun, and less bugs than other spots around the lake. <p> Tip: Fish from several large rocks at the waters edge. To increase your chances of catching fish, hang red worms two to three feet below a bobber and cast northwest as far out as you can. The deep, calm water is ideal for snagging brook, Rainbow and hybrid trout. <p> To return to the car, turn around and follow the same route back down the valley.


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