Bishop, CA: Horton Lake - Backpacker

Bishop, CA: Horton Lake

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

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

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.0


Favorite Fishing Spot

Location: 37.3158264160156, -118.665390014648

Views Near Horton Lake

Location: 37.3212280273438, -118.64900970459

Horton Lake is just beyond the trees.

Horton Creek

Location: 37.3212280273438, -118.63404083252

Meadow Near Sonny Boy Cabin

Location: 37.3218765258789, -118.631217956543

Views to Bishop

Location: 37.3212280273438, -118.631340026855


Location: 37.3114814758301, -118.623237609863

Continue straight through the gate at the trailhead.

Horton Lake

Location: 37.3161201477051, -118.668327331543

Hill Near Horton Lake

Location: 37.3198776245117, -118.661514282227

First Switchback

Location: 37.3148880004883, -118.626991271973

Horton Meadow

Location: 37.3204078674316, -118.634452819824

Ore Chute at Hanging Valley Mine

Location: 37.3196449279785, -118.663101196289

Reflection Pond

Location: 37.3171195983887, -118.661926269531

Only full during wet years, this pond is crystal clear.

Valley Views

Location: 37.3130111694336, -118.626525878906

Hanging Valley Mine Cabins

Location: 37.3197021484375, -118.662216186523

One of the cabins remains unlocked in case of an emergency.


Location: 37.3110084533691, -118.618499755859

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: 37.3113441467285, -118.62296295166

A locked access gate marks the boundary of Inyo National Forest. Continue hiking northwest on the road.


Location: 37.3216819763184, -118.630905151367

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: 37.3215293884277, -118.63395690918

Cross a wood bridge over Horton Creek.


Location: 37.3224945068359, -118.633399963379

Head 100 yards upstream from the wood bridge to find several swimming holes.


Location: 37.3199005126953, -118.634567260742

Follow Horton Creek (home to wild brook trout) upstream into a large meadow.


Location: 37.3196563720703, -118.662406921387

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: 37.3178291320801, -118.662155151367

Continue over the small outlet stream to the campsite.


Location: 37.3157234191894, -118.664405822754

This campsite has sandy soil for tents, shade from the sun, and less bugs than other spots around the lake.

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.

To return to the car, turn around and follow the same route back down the valley.