Treadmill Rating (out of 10):
Distance: 2.5 miles (total)
Max Elevation: 1,400 feet
This hike is a local favorite for good reason. This granite dome has quite a bit of local history not to mention a wonderful 360 degree view. There are probably thousands of foothills like this all over the United States but I would bet that very few offer the picturesque sunrises and sunsets that are seen from the top of this peak.
HOW TECHNICAL IS THIS HIKE?
This hike offers two routes to the peak and provides something for everyone. Whether you begin your hike from the trail head located on Patricia Ave. or start from the parking area on Foothill Blvd. you will see why so many make this hike on a routine basis. The Patricia Ave. entrance is located in a residential area with parking along the street and winds through an open field before beginning the real ascent into the trees along the peaks east side. This is the easiest route but is longer and you have a very slight chance of coming across poison oak. The Foothill Blvd. trail head begins with an incline that takes you through a cow pasture up into a scramble over a few granite boulders (not very difficult, but not for granny), then onto the main trail to the top.
WHO CAN DO THIS HIKE?
I’ve seen 5 year-old girls & boys to 60 year-olds make it to the top of Bishop Peak, but keep in mind the route you take. On any given day you will see young, fit students from nearby Cal Poly San Luis Obispo jogging up and down this trail with just a 20 oz. bottle of water and then you might see guys like me, with full packs, as we train to go up Mt. Whitney. But the majority of people are those that make the 2-4 hour round-trip journey just to make the peak and take in the views. If you can spend a couple of hours walking through your local mall you will probably be able to make the peak using the Patricia trail head. If your idea of fun is riding your bike 30 miles or running 3 miles a day, you will certainly be able to make the peak using the Foothill entrance. Both of the trails meet for the last 30 minutes of the ascent and are well maintained and marked. If you are using the Foothill trail just be sure you are on the look-out on your return. As you are looking at the wonderful view, you may just walk right past your trail.
WHEN SHOULD I GO?
This is a year-round hike. If it gets cold and foggy, put on a jacket and make the hike – it makes the hike that much more enjoyable. The fog will not only dampen the hiker but also subdues the sounds from the neighborhoods and roads, making this a very tranquil journey. I enjoy making this hike early in the morning with a couple of friends to watch the sun rise, but I wouldn’t recommend going for the sunrise if it is your first time on the trail. Really, this trail can be enjoyed any time of the year when the weather allows. I would not recommend this trail when it is raining or the day after a rain – it would be just too muddy. Any other time is fair game.
I’ve used the Patricia trail as a rehab workout so it isn’t too strenuous, but as I mentioned earlier if you take the Foothill trail be prepared to do some scrambling. If you are a rock climber there are locations along the Patricia trail to climb a couple of granite walls, but thats not my thing (check with the local climbing store). If you would like to make the trek up to the peak you should have full use of your arms, hands & legs and be able to walk for at least 2 hours before trying this hike.