Treasure Lake Trail
The Trail and the Plants
Both the Treasure Lake Trail and the Long Lake Trail start from the same trailhead found at South Lake in the Eastern Sierra above Bishop. I have made these hikes in June (the beginning of the Sierra spring) and also in late fall. This hike will feature the spring flowers.
Driving out of Bishop in the early morning, heading west on Hwy. 168, is a moving experience. Bishop is at around 4100’ and the view you have is the Sierra Crest reaching 11, 12 even 13,000’, it’s pretty impressive. Just outside of town the terrain is high desert dominated by Rabbitbrush and Saltbush. But there is high expectation in the grand Sierra view just ahead.
The road makes a sweeping switchback to enter the drainage of Bishop Creek. Down in the creek Pines and Aspens begin to appear. As the road ascends higher the steep banks on the right feature yellow clouds of Nevada City Buckwheat, you see this Buckwheat all along Hwy 395 from Bishop to Mono Lake. Mixed in with the yellow buckwheat are the white flowers of Granite Gilia, a shrubby member of the Phlox family.
The trailhead is at South Lake at an elevation of 9800’ and starts at the far end of the parking area just to the left of the bear-proof storage bins and bathrooms. This is the start of many wonderful treks into the Eastern Sierra’s. It is part of an old route, an ancient route actually, the Bishop Pass trail that goes over the Sierra Crest. There is a wooden bridge surrounded by Shooting Stars and Buttercups. The Shooting Stars have bold clumps of tapered, oblong leaves and lavender petaled flowers. Quickly you fall right into a forest of Lodgepole Pine, Willows and Aspens.
Just after the bridge the trail descends down rock steps lined with the fern like leaf of Meadow Rue, the nodding red flowers of Western Columbine, the small yellow flowered Alpine Prickly Currant and the white blossomed Starry False Solomon’s-seal in the moist shade. At the end of this rock staircase you reach the low point of the trail.