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Hiking The Sierra High Route

On this burly, 210-mile traverse, which crosses 33 passes and barely touches established trails, you can find Alaska-sized scenery, complete solitude, and just enough risk to keep things interesting.

Hiking Logistics

Section 1
Onion Valley to Bishop Pass

Distance 64 miles; 7 to 10 days

Southern Trailhead
From Market Street in Independence, CA, drive 15 miles west. Forest Service camping is available along the way.
Northern trailhead Drive 22 miles SW from downtown Bishop via Bishop Creek Road (CA 168) and South Lake Road to South Lake trailhead.

Parchers Resort is 1.2 miles from the South Lake trailhead and offers cabins, a restaurant, a small general store, and free package hold for guests. Reservations recommended. (760) 873-4177;

Free if you start from Onion Valley. Reservations are $5/person, via mail or fax. Inyo National Forest: (760) 873-2485, (760) 873-2483 for reservations; For Kings Canyon start: Apply via mail/fax ($15). Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks: (559) 565-3341;

Section 2
Bishop Pass to Mammoth Lakes

Distance 73 miles; 10 to 13 days

Southern Trailhead
See South Lake above.
Northern Trailhead
Reds Meadow in Devils Postpile National Monument. Take US 395 and CA 203 through Mammoth Lakes to Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort and park. To reach Devils Postpile (760-934-2289;, take the mandatory shuttle bus ($7) to either Reds Meadow or Devils Postpile Ranger Station bus stops (30 minutes).

Use the post office on CA 203 in Mammoth Lakes, or Motel 6 (760) 934-6660, which is next door and will hold UPS/FedEx parcels. The Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center (2510 Hwy. 203, 760-924-5500) is located a quarter-mile east of the PO. More than a dozen Forest Service and BLM campgrounds are in and around Mammoth Lakes (760-924-5500 info; 877-444-6777 reservations). Additional lodging info: 888-466-2666; Earlier, pre-shipped resupply is also available at Mono Creek (mile 113) via a 10-mile hike west from the SHR to Vermilion Valley Resort on Lake Edison ($15/package; 25-lb. limit; 559-249-4000;

Same as above

Section 3
Mammoth Lakes to Twin Lakes

Distance 77 miles; 8 to 10 days

Southern Trailhead
See Devils Postpile above.

Northern Trailhead
Mono Village Resort (760-932-7071; on Twin Lakes offers lodging, long-term hiker parking ($1/day), a restaurant, and internet. From Bridgeport on US 395 (760-932-7500;, drive 14 miles on Twin Lakes Road.
Tuolumne Meadows (mile 192) has a general store, campground, and post office. Send packages to: “Hold for thru-hiker X” c/o Tuolumne Meadows Post Office, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite, CA 95389. Mark food packages so USPS employees can store them appropriately. The post office closes each day at 4 p.m., and all Tuolumne facilities close on September 15.

Walk-in at Mammoth Welcome Center (see resupply, above). (760) 873-2483;

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  1. bobbz

    Hmmm….I grew up in the Sierras, worked for the Forest Service in the Sierras, read books about the Sierras, and rarely heard it referred to “The Sierra” except in geography class. I can’t fault Backpacker for calling it the Sierras. The Sierra Nevada IS the mountain range, no question about it, but if you’re going on a camping or backpacking trip, you don’t go the the mountain range, you go to the Sierras—the Sierra mountains, or Sierras for short—any of hundreds of mountains that compose the range.

    Profile photo of bobbz

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