Treasure Lakes

Bishop, California 93514

Treasure Lakes

Treasure Lakes Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This hike, which feels like it is set in a rugged granite amphitheater, is an up-and-down-and-up-again trail with a moderate grade. Hardy pooches and their human companions are rewarded with stupendous scenery, multiple seasonal streams for cool-off splashes, and wildflowers on the way to two lovely Treasure Lakes guarded by granite sentries.

Looking up from US 395 in Bishop across the high desert plain to the stark Sierra range that walls the Pacific Coast from the eastern deserts, it’s difficult to imagine that the long, winding journey up West Line Road will pass pleasant campgrounds and a couple of inviting cabin resorts on the aspen- lined South Fork Bishop Creek before dropping you at the foot of an alpine paradise. But it does. The South Lake Basin is your portal to the John Muir Wilderness and the shores of two lovely Treasure Lakes."

More Treasure Lakes Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: Your Complete Hiking Guide (Wilderness Press)
Mike White
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"The Treasure Lakes Trail leads away from the normal hubbub along the Bishop Pass Trail to a group of relatively secluded lakes in a granite basin near the Sierra Crest. Over the short journey, you pass through three distinct plant zones— montane, subalpine, and alpine. The quite scenic lakes offer campers serene settings for pitching a tent and anglers excellent fishing for golden trout. Some route-finding and a bit of boulder hopping are necessary to reach the upper lakes, but that should be easy enough for all but beginning backpackers. Although the trail is open to equestrians, the absence of a path over rocky terrain should dissuade the use of pack animals above the first two lakes, increasing the chances for an undisturbed visit for the nonequine crowd. A straightforward crosscountry route offers an alternative to simply retracing your steps back to the trailhead (see options, page 420)."
Top Trails Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: 64 Must-do Hikes for Everyone (Wilderness Press)
Mike White
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"While the Bishop Pass Trail may be considered by some to be something of a hikers’ freeway, the trail branching away toward the Treasure Lakes sees far less traffic. The trail leads to a string of lovely lakes in a secluded granite basin directly below the Sierra Crest. The lakes are quite scenic, offering campers serene surroundings and providing anglers with excellent fishing for golden trout."
Sierra South: Backcountry Trips in California's Sierra Nevada (Wilderness Press)
Kathy Morey & Mike White with Stacy Corless, Analise Elliot, Chris Tirrell & Thomas Winnett
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"Few trips offer so much High Sierra beauty for so little effort. Not only is there a wealth of dramatic scenery, there’s also good camping and fishing. Sturdy hikers can easily do this as a dayhike."

Treasure Lakes Trip Reports

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I am giving this trail 3 stars not because of the beauty or the trail itself but because of the description in the guide. Let me preface this by saying I am an experienced hiker and long-distance backpacker. I know how to scramble and route-find on cross-country treks. The trail to the lower Treasure Lake area is a series of ups and downs which is a pleasant, moderate trail. However, getting to the upper Treasure Lakes is a lot of scrambling and route-finding which the guide minimizes greatly. There are few cairns to mark your way and you really have to climb up, over and around many large fields of granite slabs and large boulders. Once you've arrived at the plateau where the upper lakes are, it's quite beautiful.

I also must comment on the adventurous semi-loop option (grey box at the end). My husband and I took this option, with full packs. Again, we are very experienced. This was a very challenging option. Route finding was key here and not always easy and some of the scrambling was definitely class 3 and we wished we had ropes with us (for safety, not for actual climbing). The guild says to find the saddle and simply climb it. I do not suggest anyone do this alternate route unless you are comfortable with class 3 scrambling/climbing and are good at route finding.

In the end, the hike to the lower lake is straightforward and pleasant. Anything higher requires class 2 scrambling and route finding to the upper lakes. Going over the alternative semi-loop (over the saddle below Hurd Peak) requires very good route finding skills and class 3 scrambling. Know before you go!

Treasure Lakes Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
4 hours
9,828 feet
Trailhead Elevation
10,680 feet
Top Elevation
Inyo National Forest, White Mountain Ranger Station, 798 N. Main St., Bishop 93914; (760) 873-2500 (this number has an excellent menu of information options);
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Thompson; Inyo National Forest; John Muir Wilderness; National Geographic Mammoth Lakes and Mono Divide Trail Map; Tom Harrison Bishop Pass
Local Maps

Trail Log