Jennie Tai
Eastern Sierras

Ruby Lake via Mono Pass (Eastern Sierras, California)


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Trail Information

Name: Ruby Lake via Mono Pass
Location: Bishop, California USA (Inyo National Forest / John Muir Wilderness)
Total Mileage
: 4.2 miles
Elevation gain: 908 feet
Average round trip time: 2-3 hours
Good for: Hiking, backpacking, camping
Trail: Well trafficked
Level of danger: Low
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Season: June through October
Permits: Required for camping. Not required for day-hiking.
Trail map: GPX map via Alltrails

The trail to Ruby Lake is one of two trails that can be found at the end of Rock Creek Road, one of Bishop’s most popular scenic drives in the Eastern Sierras. A five mile drive into the John Muir Wilderness, most tourists visit this trail to see the more popular of the two trails: Little Lakes Valley.

It was impossible to get myself a camping permit at Little Lakes Valley, even though I had planned this trip almost three months in advance. I almost gave up until I noticed there was a less popular nearby (Mono Pass). I got myself a permit to camp at Ruby Lake, but was snowed out when I arrived at the trailhead. Instead, I did a day quick day hike around both trails to get this photo (above), a panorama of 29 shots that were stitched together (and froze my laptop 3x).

Known for its steep switchbacks, the path up to Ruby Lake was almost empty when I arrived at its trailhead. In the parking lot though, there were four different groups of tourists who were ready to take the trail up to Little Lakes Valley, and I was happy to not have to hike behind them. Throughout the trail, there were gorgeous views of Little Lakes Valley (below).

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Both photos above are panoramas of 10-29 photos I stitched together, but I wouldn’t have been able to get the shot of the Little Lakes Valley if I had taken its actual trail. Taking Mono Pass gave me better views of the valley from a higher vantage point. If you’re a photographer, I’d recommend taking the Ruby Lake trail via Mono Pass for better composition over Little Lakes Valley (if you want to get all the lakes in one shot). It’s a steep hike, but it’s pretty short (and was nothing compared to my last “adventure”). The alpine lake at the end of the trail is also pretty decent, and there are tons of spot to camp, or stop to have lunch at a scenic overlook. 😉

Happy hiking!

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