This was pretty much a goof-off day. After hiking the Big Pine Lakes area the day before, me and Kim met up with our friends Chris and Rocio at Schat’s Bakkery in Bishop, before continuing our journey north up the 395. We were all going to the Bluesapalooza music festival in Mammoth the next day, but me and Kim wanted to take a side trip to Convict Lake on the way while Chris and Rocio planned on driving straight to Mammoth Lakes. so Kim and I knew we’d see them later and drove out to Convict Lake. It was only about 37 miles from Bishop to Convict Lake and we got there in about 45 minutes.
Convict Lake is a beautiful 170 acre crystal clear lake located at an elevation of 7,850 feet, to the east of and below the towering Mount Morrison in the Sherwin Range of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. The lake received its current name after a dramatic shootout in September 1871 after a group of 29 men broke out of the state penitentiary in Carson city, Nevada. Six made it to this site, more than 200 miles away. Tracked here by a posse, the convicts killed Robert Morrison, the county sheriff, Mono Jim, a Paiute Indian guide and several members of the posse.
Despite it’s violent past, Convict Lake and the adjacent Convict Canyon is a beautiful place and located just a few miles west of the 395 highway, so it was a must do. There’s plenty of parking, restrooms, a boardwalk next to the lake and even a wheelchair accessible fishing deck, so its a great place for a nice visit.
Kim on the Wheelchair Accessible Convict Lake Fishing Deck
It’s a jewel of a lake and the views of the majestic looking Mount Morrison to its immediate west, are truly impressive. There is also a resort located nearby called the Convict Lake Resort.
Convict Canyon Trailhead
Once we got to Convict Lake I decided to check out the hiking possibilities and discovered an actual hiking trail called the Convict Creek Trail that led around the north shore of Convict Lake toward the mountains. That’s where we met a hiker named Steve, who was gearing up for some backpacking up the mountain near Lake Dorothy. As it turns out he regularly hiked with our friends Alden & Mika, who had led the Tahqutiz Peak Lookout hike. What a small world!
Here’s what the Forest Service has to say about the Convict Creek Trail:
After following the north shore of Convict Lake, this rugged, steep trail climbs a steep, v-shaped canyon with several exposed sections. Within 1.5 miles from the trail’s start, sections of the trail have been washed out by flash flooding in July of 2012. This trail has a water crossing that many find to be a serious obstacle. Steep canyon walls and rock fall hazards exist in this area.
Steve made it sound a like a pleasant nature walk. Of course, we could tell at a glance that this dude was a serious hiker who probably bagged 14ers routinely, so we didn’t think he’d have any problems with the trail.
Me and Kim at the Convict Canyon Trailhead
It was such beautiful territory then even me and Kim were tempted to hike the trail for at least a little ways. But we decided to just kick it around Convict Lake instead where we enjoyed the views, waded in the water and took a walk on the lakeside boardwalk before heading up to Mammoth for the Bluesapaloosa festival.
Outing Date: August 1, 2014