Guide to Lone Pine and Beyond

Over the last 10 years we have made many trips into the Owens Valley and beyond but we haven't felt comfortable making recommendations because we had not utilized many of the businesses in the Lone Pine area, always camping at either Whitney Portal or Horseshoe Meadows. To some extent we still have not but we feel we have enough experience in the area to offer some opinions. Since many of you will make your way to Lone Pine from the Bay Area we offer some suggestions as you travel south on 395 from Conway Summit, above Mono Lake.

Lodging | RV Parks | Food | Acclimatization Hikes

Hotels/Motels

Dow Villa Motel - Lone Pine
If this isn't the best place in town I would be very surprised. According these folks the top end rooms go for about $100/night in the summer. 3 stars from AAA and we agree. Last stay: 2/00

Winnedumah Hotel...B & B - Independence
Step into another time and place. No phone, no tv and very few amenities but charm galore. Reasonably priced. The breakfast ain't much so if you want a big meal go elsewhere. Last stay: 4/03

Big Pine Motel - Big Pine
Clean and serviceable. A step down from the Dow Villa but we'd stay there again. Last stay: 7/00

Comfort Inn - Bishop
About the same as the Big Pine Motel only more expensive because it's in Bishop. Last stay: 8/99

June Lake Pines Cottages - June Lake
Located across the street from the general store and located within walking distance of shops, restaurants, Gull and June Lakes. Comparable to the accomadation at the Reserve Creek Lodge. The rooms we had were larger but didn't have the ambiance. Last stay: 2/05

Reserve Creek Lodge - June Lake
Various accommodations, cabins to A frames, but we have be staying here since annually since 1995. Chalet 16 has an outstanding view of Carson Peak. Last stay: 2/04

Whispering Pines - June Lake
A little on the pricey side but we had a great chalet room with a view to Carson Peak. Across the street from the Double Eagle Resort. Last stay: 10/00



RV Parks

Boulder Creek - Lubken Canyon Rd and US 395
Although we never had the pleasure of staying here we were able to utilize their facilities during an outdoor photography workshop in February, 2001. We came away impressed with the facilities and staff. Last used: 2/00



Restaurants

The Ranch House - Olancha
We've eaten here 4 times, 3 for breakfast. Our lunch meal was good but breakfast has proven to be less than satisfactory. This place is on our...Let's not go here, again list  Last meal: 7/04

The Pizza Factory - Lone Pine and Bishop
The pizza ain't Charlie's on the Boulevard in Philly but it is good and the beer is cold. My partner finally has found something he likes here, pizza with white sauce. Last meal: 3/11

The Merry Go Round - Lone Pine
Under new management. We have had three reports the food has improved markedly from our last meal here. Last meal: 2/00

The Totem - Lone Pine
So, so meal after a good experience earlier. Last meal: 2/00

High Sierra Cafe - Lone Pine
Under new management. We had a reasonably good breakfast with good service. Last meal: 5/07

The Whitney Cafe - Lone Pine
Mediocre food and lousy service. The $9 burger I had was dry and tasteless and the onion rings were run of the mill. If you want a burger save a few bucks and head to Carl's or McDonalds...your wallet will thank you. Last meal: 9/10

Bonanza Mexican Restaurant - Lone Pine
Very good stick to the ribs Mexican food. We found the portions to be large and the food to be a good value. Service seems to be up and down, the first time not so good; the second with a more crowded room better. A great pig out spot. Last meal: 3/11

Alabama Hills Cafe - Lone Pine
The very best breakfast place we have found in south end of the Owens Valley Last meal: 3/11

The Whitney Portal Store - Whitney Portal
I know this is a contrarian view but me and my usual partner in crime don't think the burgers and chicken sandwiches are a good value any longer. However, the morning pancake is still da' bomb  Last meal: 5/10

Rossi's - Big Pine
Family Style beef and pasta. Limited menu but great value. We can't wait to go back again. Last meal: 8/00

Whiskey Creek - Bishop
Great food, great service; priced according. We are looking forward to a return trip. Last meal: 10/99

Schat's Bakery & Restaurant - Bishop
A Bishop institution. Great bread, pasteries and sandwiches. Can you say chilicheese bread, I know you can. Last meal: 2/04

La Casita Mexican Restaurant & Cantina - Bishop
Great food, especially the killer salsa and chips. Service improved dramatically on our last visit...it should have there was only one other person in the restaurant. Last meal: 9/05

Jack's Restaurant - Bishop
Another Bishop institution. Great breakfast with good sized portions.
Last meal: 9/05

Sierra Inn - June Lake
Basic good American food from breakfast to dinner to pizza. Last meal: 6/04

Roberto's - Mammoth Lakes
Good stick to the ribs Mexican Food on Old Mammoth Road. It can get crowded at diner time. Last meal: 9/03

Double Eagle Resort - June Lake
Probably the best restaurant in June Lake, we haven't been to the Carson Peak Inn yet, and reasonably priced for what you get. The views to Carson Peak's waterfall are outstanding. Our last diner meal was not up to previous standards. Last meal: 10/03

Nicely's - Lee Vining
A great place to meet someone coming from Yosemite. Have had a couple of good meals here over the last few year. Last meal: 6/04

Tioga Pass Resort Cafe - Tioga Pass
A couple mile of the Yosemite National Park entrance station is a restaurant with 2 table and counter space for 8 to 10 people and some the best food we have ever eaten in the Eastern Sierra. We worth the trip up from the Lee Vining area or out of Tuolumne Meadows.  Last meal: 9/05



Acclimatization Hikes
Note: Our criteria for acclimatization hikes are generally no more than 8 miles with minimal elevation gain, in other words a fairly easy hike, with the trailhead or the hike going over 10,000'

Meysan Trail - Lone Pine

The trailhead starts on Whitney Portal and goes through the campground and the area of the summer cabins before hitting the trail proper. A trip to the camping area at the top of the first headwall is a moderate 7 mile round trip to ~10,000'. Beyond this the trail get rougher and much steeper and ends at ~4.7 miles near Grass Lake.

 

If you are here for the peak bagging, Mt. Mallory and Lone Pine Peak are available to those with class 2/3 skills and are good at route finding.

Map: Mt. Langley 7.5' USGS Quad

 

Cottonwood Lakes/New Army Pass Trail - Lone Pine
You can extend this trip into 10 mile loop trip up into the Cottonwood Lakes basin or call it a day at Cottonwood Creek, the junction of the New Army Pass/Cottonwood Lakes Trails or explore the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek.
Map: Cirque Peak 7.5' USGS Quad
Note: The trailhead has been moved and the first 1/2 mile of the trail is not shown on the above map. The map is accurate from where the original trail crosses Cottonwood Creek. When driving into Horseshoe Meadows follow the signs to the Cottonwood Lakes/New Army Pass Trailhead.

Map: Cirque Peak 7.5' USGS Quad

South Fork Lakes Loop/New Army Pass Trail-South Fork Lakes Trail - Lone Pine
If you are comfortable traveling on a trail which is not on a map this is a great way to experience a place not seen by most hikers utilizing the Horseshoe Meadows trailheads. About a mile in just after you make the stream crossing there is a trail on your left about 100' or so above the stream, there might be a log there blocking your path. Look for traffic heading up this well established trail which will take you through lush meadows most of the way. After the big climb along S.F. of Cottonwood Creek you will come to a trail junction just hang a right and it will take you back to trailhead. Figure this to be an 8 to 9 mile loop.

The trail is shown on the info. board at the trailhead.
Map: Cirque Peak 7.5' USGS Quad

Chicken Spring Lake/Cottonwood Pass Trail - Lone Pine
The trip doesn't have the beauty of the Cottonwood Lakes trip but it gets you across the Sierra Crest very easily. For a 10 mile round trip go to the high point north of Chicken Spring Lake and its views of Big Whitney Meadow and point west. Truly spectacular.
Map: Cirque Peak 7.5' USGS Quad

Cottonwood Pass-Trail Pass Loop - Lone Pine
The Cottonwood Pass Trail ain't all that and a bag of chips, in my opinion. However, if you make a left hand turn at Cottonwood Pass and loop back thing change for the better. The views are great, especially if take a little cross country jaunt over Trail Peak, and terrain is varied. This is about a 12-mile loop with modest elevation gains...even if choose to go peak bagging.
Map: Cirque Peak 7.5' USGS Quad

Onion Valley to Robinson Lake - Independence
This isn't the easiest trailhead to find and when you find it if you didn't have a heads up you'd problem head off cross country even though it started on what you thought was a trail. Confused? Here's the deal, lot at your map and head in the the southeast part of the campground. You will find a sign for Robinson Lake pointing directly up a creek with a trail adjacent to it on your right...GO UP THE CREEK! It's only about 30' and your feet won't get wet, if you've waterproofed those boots of yours. You will work your way up a steep wide canyon to an even steeper section to Robinson Lake, a lake that will remind of Gem Lake in the Little Lakes Valley. This is a fairly short hike but it will get the heart muscle pumping, especially the last 1/3 of it.
Map: Kersarge Peak 7.5' USGS Quad

Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass - Independence
This is a big on scenery, people and mosquitos, in the early season, hike. It goes up constantly through a lake basin to a wind swept pass which borders Kings Canyon NP. A great introduction to the Sierra hike. Round Trip about 10 miles, +2,740'. For the adventurous there is the 13,005' Mt. Gould which can be climbed from the pass. This peak requires route finding and Class 3 skills.
Map: Kearsarge Peak 7.5' USGS Quad...If you are peak bagging mood bring along the Mt. Clarence King Quad

North Lake to Piute Pass - Bishop
This hike starts with rapid ascent through the aspens to Loch Leven. At this point the trail mellows gaining only 800' in the next couple of miles, except for the steps...I hate steps, and the remnant of heavy packer use. Once you gain the pass put your head on a swivel, the views are incredible every direction you look.
Map: Mt. Darwin 7.5' USGS Quad

South Lake to Bishop Pass - Bishop
This hike start with a great view of South Lake and improves with every step. The trip to the Bishop Pass is about 5.5 miles with a gain of ~2,200' to it isn't all that stressful. On the return trip you have the energy, route finding skills head toward Ruwau Lake at the signed junction and do the Chocolate Peak Loop. The views from the peak are breathtaking. Add about 3 miles to your round trip if you take the loop.
Map: Mt. Thompson and North Palisade 7.5' USGS Quads

Mosquito Flats/Little Lakes Valley - Tom's Place
A trip up one of the most beautiful canyons in the Eastern Sierra. The trip to Morgan Lakes is about 9 miles but those looking for something shorter your destinations would be Long Lake at 6 miles, Chickenfoot Lake at 7 miles or Gem Lakes at 8. Bring the 100% DEET, the trailhead is called Mosquito Flats with justification.
Map: Mt. Morgan & Mt. Abbot 7.5' USGS Quads

Agnew Meadows to Shadow Lake and Beyond - Mammoth Lakes
A trip of great natural beauty, especially between Shadow and Ediza Lakes. You can make this trip what you want it it to be. It's 8 miles RT to Shadow and ~16 miles RT to Ediza and views of the Minarets, Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. Make sure you head down to Red's Meadow Campground to take advantage of the free natural hot spring showers, BYOT & S.
Map: Mammoth Mountain and Mt. Ritter 7.5' USGS Quads

20 Lakes Basin/Saddlebag Lake - Tioga Pass
An 8 to 10 mile loop trip in a magnificent lake filled basin.
Map: Tioga Pass & Dunderberg Peak 7.5' USGS Quads

Cathedral Lakes Trail - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park
This a trip that doesn't take you over 10,000' but a wonderful trip in the granite dome country to either of the Cathedral Lakes. An easy 7 to 8 mile trip not to be missed.
Map: Tenaya Lake 7.5' USGS Quad

Tuolumne Meadows to the Tuolumne River Bridge - Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park
A nice easy 8 mile trip at the beginning of the mother of all waterfall trips. If you go beyond the bridge you might end up at Waterwheel Falls and forget about Mt. Whitney. Don't say you haven't been warned ;-). The high point on this trip is ~8,620'.
Maps: Tioga Pass & Falls Ridge 7.5' USGS Quad

Virginia Lakes to Burro Pass - Hoover Wilderness, Toiyabe National Forest
This is a poor man's Little Lakes Valley. This is an over the river and through the woods type of hike to a wind swept pass with marvelous views at its destination. This is a moderate 6 mile trip to 11,120'. Note: Burro Pass is not noted as such on the map.
Maps: Dunderberg Peak 7.5' USGS Quad


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Date of Last Change: 3/31/11