Coyote Mountains

I am a newcomer to the Coyote area southwest of Bishop, California. True to its name, Coyote is a wild, mountainous region, rugged as can be and unique in its variety of ecozones. I haven’t even made it to Coyote Flat yet where everybody goes, because I have been too busy working my way up from the foothills out of Bishop Creek.

Because Coyote is so steep and rocky, there are few roads that access the area. OHV (off highway vehicle) roads come in from Big Pine and Bishop, but everything else is trails and cross country travel. There are many roads at the top of Coyote that lead into primitive locations that were built for mining. It is a rare opportunity today for off road enthusiasts to be able to access such beautiful, Sierra-like wilderness.

Coyote affords a superb chance for hikers to get into incredible, dream-like places far from any road. The only scant trails you will find out there are made by deer.

The terrain that leads up to Coyote is rough with steep hillsides consisting of loose granite, slate and volcanic rock. There are large granite cliffs, thick brush, giant California Mahogany groves, Pinyon/Jeffrey forests and finally a mixture of Limber/Lodgepole Pines at the higher elevations. It is a beautiful thing to be able to walk through so many ecozones in one day.

I cut my teeth on the whole Coyote scene in Little Egypt and learned how much the Paiute people valued this sacred land. I started to venture further out to explore new places in the Coyote foothills, within a days hike. It started to get more and more incredible, and now I am hooked.

I will try to describe what the Bishop version of Coyote is like that leads up to South Lake. Down lower the rock climbers access an old trail from pioneer days off the Chipmunk Canyon Rd. that leads to Coyote Flat.

The next access is the Coyote Rd. that is the main way to get into the interior. This road is scary and has a lot of whoop-de-doos and high-banked turns from the ATV/motorcycle speed demons. I like to four wheel to gain access to remote places, but when I can’t take the beating anymore, I get out and walk. Aunt Wilma used to say, “When you get tired of walking-run awhile!”

Before the Coyote road was built, an old trail went up there that was used by miners, stockmen and woodcutters. It is so steep that it is difficult to walk up. About 25 years ago this trail was used by dirt bikers, and they left their little metal grates in the trail tread for traction. Nobody uses it now and it has gone back to nature. That is a rare occurrence in our modern world.

Further up Bishop Creek an old road takes off from the Bishop Creek housing area. This is another way to access Coyote by walking. I like to go straight up from Four Jeffrey campground. It is super steep, rugged and gets into beautiful forested areas in remote side canyons. There are a lot of eroded granite formations along the way and it has that Sierra feel to it. On one hike, I came upon the Schober Mine cabin that still sits unmolested in a high, small valley overlooking the crest of the Sierra. Always show respect for the owners of these places by leaving them alone.

The next old primitive trail up the hill goes from Em’s Pond to the Lindner Mine. Not far from there is the Green Lake Trail, where a road can be seen coming down to the end of the lake. Beyond that, the higher elevations are reached by cross country travel or by old trails from the South Lake trailhead.

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Here are a few trail tips for this area: Never wear shorts while going cross country or your legs will be reduced to a bloody mess by brush that bites. I have not seen any rattlers out there, but that does not mean that they aren’t there. Reduce weight and cool your sandwiches with freezable juice packs-by lunchtime, the drinks will be thawed out and your food will be in perfect condition. If the drinks don’t thaw out completely you can have a fruit slushy on a hot summer’s day. It’s out of sight! Remember, make sure you get the juice with no added sugar or corn sweeteners. We really do care about your good health out along the trail. Until I write again, happy trails to you!


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