California is full of beautiful places, and each one has its own unique style and draw; however, I have to say that for me, the Bishops Creek area is one of the most beautiful places you can see in all of California. Here is my definitive guide to all the fantastic things that are waiting for you in Bishops Creek and let me know if I left something off in the comments.
- You need to drive to all of the spots
- There is parking near each of the lakes
- The best time to visit is in the fall when the colors are changing
- This information was from my visit in 2015, 2018 and 2020
- Read more about my favorite Highway 395 stops here
We will start at the top and work our way back down to the base, and as far as the top goes, Lake Sabrina is it. This high altitude lake is damned on the south side and surrounded by massive peaks on all the other sides.
It is a fantastic place to take in the views or get out on the water. Do note that often in the summer or fall, the water level is too low to go boating on though. I love this view, and it is like many of the other sights you will get in Bishop Creek. It has a beautiful grove of aspens below that turn mesmerizing in the fall.
As you proceed down from Lake Sabrina, there will be a turn to head up to North Lake, and you should take it. After driving the crazy 1.5 lane road up to the North Lake area, you will be greeted with views that are different but equally stellar from the other regions of Bishops Creek.
Meadows and marshy areas surround North Lake, and it provides beautiful views like the below photo.
This is also a great lake for fly fishing as well, and I have often seen 10-inch trout right in the creek that feeds the lake.
I don’t know what this place is called, but if you do a little hiking and can snag the one parking space/turnout that is on the way down from North Lake, then climbing this hill is a must. This hill is where I got the above shot from as it provides 360-degree views in all directions.
Waterfall Below North Lake
As you are driving down from North Lake and Lake Sabrina, keep your eyes peeled for the big cascading waterfall on the north side. This waterfall adds a lot to the view and is a great pull out.
Cardinal Village Resort
At the first turn for Aspendell coming down the mountain, you can head to Cardinal Village resort. This is the trailhead for the hike to the waterfall mentioned above and also a place where you can rent cabins to stay in the area.
South Lake plus Trailhead into the Backcountry
At the end of the beautiful road that leads to South Lake, on which you can get photos like the below, is South Lake itself.
While it was not as full this year as it often is, that did not take away from how overly stunning it is.
This lake provides the trailhead for many backcountry adventures, providing an access point to Muir Pass, the John Muir Trail, and Evolution Valley.
It was sad to see how low the water level was with the small boats sitting on the ground and the dropoff right from the launching area, but I have been back since, and the water level has been higher.
Parchers Resort is another place where you can rent cabins right below South Lake. There is some excellent fly fishing around here. They have a massive breakfast buffet on the weekends, and you can rent horses here as well.
Waterfall by Bishop Creek Resort
As you proceed on the road to South Lake, there is a beautiful waterfall on the south side. It cascades right over the mountain and seems to flow out like mist on the ground below. I didn’t get closer than the road to this one, but it was beautiful.
Bishop Creek Resort
This is the last of the three places where you can rent a cabin in the area. It is also the site of a general store and a restaurant if you are staying nearby and need a meal.
Here are the two places to rent horses in the area as well
- Bishop Pack Outfitters
- Rainbow Pack Outfitters
If you want to camp, there are at least five spots in the area. I would say anything close to South Lake would be my recommendation for either fishing or hiking.
Best Season to Visit
For me, I would say it is the spring and the fall as the spring there are fewer people than the busy summer months and the fall gives you all of the fantastic colors you can see in the above photos.
Let me know if I left something off or if you like Bishops Creek as much as me.