Inyo Forest Roads

Baker Creek

Baker Creek, Inyo NF

Eastern Sierra Nevada – Inyo Mountains
Inyo Forest Back Roads – Mammoth Off Road

Off Road near US Highway 395. Yep, Olancha has some OHV (off-road) areas near the dunes, but this web site is dedicated to the real deal, the scenery, the trail heads, the hot springs, great secluded camping & of course, back road exploring.

You will need a Inyo National Forest map to discover these back roads. These are minimally traveled routes, un-maintained, sometimes washed out, eroded & maybe even creek crossings (without a bridge). Some gravel two-lane routes, some one lane roads leading deep into dead end canyons.

A few popular routes are paved, but most of these listed are indeed dirt roads. Some may require high clearance vehicle, or even 4×4. Know your vehicles limitations & be prepared to turn back when the road worsens. Cuz more often than not, it’s a sign of what more difficult terrain is to come.

coyote creek route

Watch out for live stock – they are dumber than they look.

Owenyo Rd – Wanna parallel the highway (395) on dirt; Sure, it’s a long bumpy route – from Hwy 136 @ Dolomite to Bend City @ Mazourka Cyn.

Road# 13S05 – Mazourka Canyon Rd – leads up to some old mining camps & way behind Mazourka Peak (9410′) deep into the Inyo mountains. It’s all desert on this side, but these canyons have pinyons & more vegetation than you would imagine. Road# 9S15 & 9S14 circle Andrews Mountain (9460′) then join back up w/ Death Valley Rd (the North Pass into Saline Valley).

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest has some great dirt roads surrounding it. After you are finished with all the touristy sights & you don’t wanna spend the rest of the day in the visitors center or back at camp, try Cottonwood Canyon – full of aspens, camp sites & fishing, not cottonwood trees. 4×4 is required. Crooked Creek has boulders, boulders & more boulders. Plus some amazing camp sites with open sky views. Silver Canyon is for high clearance only, 2WD okay. This will lead you down to Laws Railroad Museum on Hwy 6, on the back side of Bishop, CA

Benton Crossing Rd (green church @ 395)
This wide road leads out to multiple dirt roads that peel off in every direction. Many Eastern Sierra Hot Springs can be found out here – on the east side of the highway. No hot spring resorts, no facilities, no clothing & very primitive.

Bishop 4×4 route Coyote Flat
Coyote Wash leads up to Coyote Flat & out to Coyote Lake. This a a spectacular high altitude plateau overlooks the Owens Valley & requires 4 wheel drive just to get up there. Pinyons, junipers, aspens, wildflower meadows, old mines, & yes, lakes at 11,000′ elevation. Views of the High Sierra & South Lake.

Buttermilk Road – This dirt road is north turn off of Hwy 168, W of Bishop, CA. “The Buttermilks” are a popular spot among rock climbers. A great place for indian petroglyphs too!

Road# 9S21 – Glacier Lodge Road – Paved road. Creek exploring & fishing. Plenty Campgrounds. W of Big Pine CA

Horseshoe Meadows Rd – Paved route with great views over Owens dry lake bed; access via Lone Pine CA; A nice day trip to meadows & High Sierra scenery. Picnic & day hike!

McMurray Meadows Rd – south off of Glacier Lodge Rd (#9S21) just W of Big Pine CA. You can find ancient cinder cone volcanoes & cave-like lava tubes in between this long dirt road & the highway.

monacheMonache Meadows is a high elevation meadow that takes some time & determination to get to. This area is part of the Inyo National Forest, but can be accessed by either: backpacking thru the high Sierra’s or driving a high clearance vehicle thru Sequoia NF # 22S05 Sherman Pass Road, behind the Black Rock Ranger Station & Troy Meadows Campground. High clearance is needed, 4×4 maybe. Great camping sites near Olancha Peak trailhead. The area is surrounded by Golden Trout Wilderness & South Sierra Wilderness. From US Highway 395 to Kennedy Mdws & then Monache is a full day of exploring, so you may as well stay the night up there. But bring warm gear, a campfire permit & a capable vehicle.

Manzanar Routes – Back behind Manzanar Camp there are miles of dirt roads to explore. Many creeks side camp sites can be found even with a passenger car. Small trees & sage brush. Secluded camping (for free) is possible in the Eastern Sierra.

Mono Craters (Rd# 1N11) – the youngest mountain range on the continent. Just south of Mono Lake, this route skirts the pumice cones & climbs over the Aeolian Buttes, before it meets back up with Hwy 395.

Walker Creek Rd #19S01 – Oaks & creek. South of Olancha CA, look for turn off & follow dirt road up into the tight canyon.

Fish Slough Road (Rd #3V01) – open, high-desert area near volcanic tablelands. Find Indian Petroglyphs. N of Bishop, CA

keough hot tubInyo Road# 6S16 – Pine Creek Road – Creek exploring & fishing. NW of Bishop behind Rovana, also known as Round Valley, CA

Road# 4S02 – Owens Gorge Road – N of Bishop behind Lake Crowley. Camping w/ boulders & pines. Good open sky views for stargazing.

Road# 4S86 (Inyo Rd #28E201) – Laurel Lakes Road – Camp in aspens @ Laurel lakes, high elevation; access to alpine lake trailheads; SE of Mammoth Lakes, CA

Road# 2S05 – Deadman Creek – Creek fishing in forest. N of Mammoth

Road# 2S07 – Owens River Road – Pine forest, near hot springs; no facilities. N of Mammoth

Road# 1S63 – June Lake Loop is CA SR 158 (Hwy 158) paved main route, which is often closed for winter months, due to deep snow.

Road# 1N17 North of June Lake Loop; dirt road access to Parker Lakes & Walker Lake trailheads; Side canyon routes offer (unmarked) picnic areas and fishing spots; few primitive camping options.

Road# 1S25A Parker Lakes Road– Aspen & pine forest, near creeks; E of Grant Lake / N of June Lake

Road# 1S23 Walker Lake Road – Pine forest route to Walker Lake; E of Grant Lake / N of June Lake

Impressive Canyons

1S23 – Inyo NF

inyoroad1S23

Inyo Forest Rd #1S23

Walker Lake & Mono Pass
Bloody Canyon Trailhead

North of June Lake Loop, off of Road #1N17

also known as Little Walker Lake trailhead

1 mile walk downhill to Walker Lake; very steep trail with 800′ elevation decent.
Vault toilet & one campsite at parking lot.

trailheadcamp

Trailhead camp for backpackers who arrive late. Nearby Parker Creek offers more in the line of free camping, more creeks, private setting.

Slim pickins on campsites, means have a plan B or C ready in case these few ideal canyons are full. Minimal camping spots, down on the main drag Road #1N17

Bloody Canyon leads further up the steep ravine to Upper & Lower Sardine Lakes.

walkerlake

 

Walker TH

Bohler Canyon near #1S19 (locked gate)
private property along some portion of this lake, so be aware of signage

1N17 – Inyo NF

1N17

Road #1N17 – Inyo National Forest

Highway 158 @ Grant Lake, North June Lake Loop

Forest Road 1N17 is a major graded dirt road that connects June Lake Loop to the Lee Vining junction, the back way. West side of US 395; south of Hwy 120.

At north end of Grant Lake, slow down and look for the signed intersection. Sage brush hills and big drainage, with towering granite peaks above.

This well-traveled, wide dirt road leads along the base of the mountain range on BLM land, skirting the National Forest. Several side routes head up into numerous canyons, which are part of Inyo NF. Suitable for SUV, passenger cars, camper van and small RVs. Easy access off US Highway 395 and June Lake Loop #1S63

side routes off #1N17 –

Parker Lakes Road #1S25A
Sawmill Canyon #1S24
Bloody Canyon #1S23
Walker Lake Trailhead
Bohler Canyon #1S19
Gibbs Trailhead #1S106

walkertrail

Several hike-in only lakes, creek camping, some seclusion. Great picnic areas, trail head access, short or long hikes. National Forest lands. Backpacking, day hiking and primitive camps, some deep in the aspens. Autumn here can be gorgeous, and these are all prime summer time camp sites, for free. Make sure to get your campfire permit ahead of time, at ranger station in Mammoth. Wilderness permits may also be required for overnight camping in this canyon, so check with the NFS rangers on that issue.

towns nearby:
June Lake, CA
Lee Vining, CA
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Mono Lake, CA

Ansel Adams Wilderness
Inyo National Forest

Certain areas back here can be muddy in springtime, other major routes can even be over whelmed with water when creeks swell. Summer thunderstorms are common. One lane bridges should always be driven with caution, especially on dirt roads. Always be extra slow when driving thru water at creek crossings.

area maps:
Inyo National Forest USDA
Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo

summerstorm

Grant Lake California

grantlakefall

Grant Lake, California

elevation: 7,136′
surface acres: 1000

Grant Lake is the largest of the lakes on the famous June Lake Loop, the far north end (top) of Hwy 158. Eastern Sierra

Often windy, barren hills surround much of the lake; Good fishing and easy access all the way around lake. High desert, with big open skies and great views. Public boat ramps (dirt).

Graded Dirt Road #1S29 skirts the north end of this lake. Dirt Road #1S30 wraps around the back (east) side, while the paved highway skirts the western shoreline.

Grant Lake Marina
760-648-7964

Full service marina, fishing boat rentals, boat launch ramp, gasoline & a market.
Grant Lake Marina Campground w/ 70 camp sites. Usually open from late April through mid October.

AUTUMN COLOR: Some pockets of aspen near this lake, but most aspen groves are deeper on the loop.

curveatlake

Picnic areas, hiking, back roads.
Views of Mono Lake.

Near north end of Grant, a Gravel Road #1N17 leads north from Hwy 158, thru BLM lands. Several short canyons w/ lakes and creeks; fishing, picnic spots, numerous hiking trailheads, some primitive campsites.

Silver Lake is next door.

nearby towns:

June Lake, CA
Lee Vining, CA

junelakeloop

Back of June Lake Loop

 

area maps:
Inyo National Forest USDA
Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo

1S63 – Inyo NF

junelakeloop

June Lake Loop – Hwy 158

also known as Road #1S63 – Inyo NF
and as California State Route 158
CA SR 158, or just Highway 158

Eastern Sierra Nevada

The quieter side of outdoor life can be found around June Lake. Fishing, camping, cabins, lodging, several lakes and one ski resort. When the busy-ness and crowds of Mammoth Mountain annoy, it is time to look elsewhere for your Eastern Sierra vacation.

June Lake is the neighboring community to the north, just a few miles from Mammoth, off US 395. The paved loop highway (158) is a wondrous scenic drive and awesome for outdoor recreation; but is subject to winter closures during NOV-MAY.

backpacking
boating
camping
fishing
hiking
horseback
snow ski

Autumn colors on this highway attract a fair amount of annual visitors. Book campgrounds or lodging (in summertime) for late September to early October for the best timing on fall foliage. First snow of the season usually arrives sometime in October.

grantcontrast
lake and creeks near the loop –

June Lake
Gull Lake
Silver Lake
Grant Lake

Rush Creek
Reverse Creek
Walker Creek

fernlake

Fern Lake – hike-in

walkerlake

Walker Lake – hike-in

Inyo Forest Road #1N17 is a dirt road, off the main highway. Route leads north from Grant Lake over to Lee Vining junction @ CA 120. Numerous side routes up into scenic canyons, most of which are well signed. Perfect exploring for day hikers, creek fishing, small lakes and primitive camping spots.

Parker Lakes
Walker Lake

Inyo National Forest
Ansel Adams Wilderness

June Lake, CA

nearby towns:
Lee Vining, CA
Mammoth Lakes, CA

area maps:
Inyo National Forest USDA
Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo