Photo of Baboon Lake,  Inyo County, CA

Baboon Lakes

Sabrina Basin - Inyo County

Photo of Baboon Lakes

Lower Baboon Lake

Spectacular Baboon Lakes rest at 11,000 feet in the Sabrina Basin, only 4.5 miles from the Lake Sabrina trailhead, and yet because of their out-of-the-way location, they are often overlooked by Sabrina Basin anglers. The three lakes offer superb fishing for rainbow and brook trout.

Situated in the John Muir Wilderness, Baboon Lakes have varied shorelines, from granite cliffs and jutting points to scattered forest and meadowland. Plenty of good camping sites abound. Compared to nearby lakes such as Blue Lake and Dingleberry Lake, Baboon Lakes see fewer visitors. You should not be surprised to find you have the lakes to yourself.

Approach to Baboon Lakes

The trail to Baboon Lakes begins at Lake Sabrina. From Bishop on Highway 395 in Inyo County, drive west on Highway 168 nineteen miles to Lake Sabrina. Be sure to park before you reach the No Parking signs at the end of the highway. You can park on the shoulder of the highway or in the designated parking area. The trailhead is still about a half mile up the road where there is no overnight parking.


In My Creel

  • #16 tan Elk Hair Caddis
  • #14 Adams Parachute
  • #16 Red Quill
  • #16 Adams
  • #16 gnat
  • #16 Blue Olive Parachute

I was fly fishing throughout the Sabrina Basin on this trip, finding fish everywhere I looked. The shores of Baboon Lakes are for the most part clear of obstructions, making casting easy. On this September trip it appears that grasshoppers would have made a good bait choice. They were prevalent around many of the lakes.

Photo of Blue Lake

Blue Lake

The first 3 miles of trail leading out of Lake Sabrina up to Blue Lake is an arduous hike due to the steep trail and the high altitude. Lake Sabrina, a popular fishing destination itself, is at an elevation of 9,100 feet. The trail circles the lake, climbing gradually at first and then begins a series of switchbacks up to Blue Lake. Blue Lake is a popular destination and you may find it relatively crowded. Fishing there is good for rainbow and brook trout.

Follow the trail around the shore of Blue Lake, bypassing the turn to Dingleberry Lake and taking the trail marked to Donkey Lake. Only a short distance farther (at the end of Blue Lake), you will come to a sign pointing to the Baboon Lakes trail. This is a somewhat new trail and may not be accurately portrayed on some maps. It comes much sooner than it appears on many topo maps. The trail traverses the side of the ridge west of the creek coming from Baboon Lakes.

Photo of Baboon Lake sign

The new Baboon Lakes trail climbs high on the side of the mountain and includes several steep sections of switchbacks before descending a couple hundred feet to the lake. From several points along this trail you can look across and down on Donkey Lake.

My route was up to Donkey Lake by the old trail and then up an abandoned trail from there to Baboon Lakes. This abandoned trail involved some bush-whacking, boulder scrambling, and steep inclines. I strongly recommend taking the new established trail marked by the sign.


Accommodations and Supplies:

There are good backpacking campsites all along the northern shores of Baboon Lakes. An alternative would be to camp below the lakes along the creek or at nearby Donkey Lake, which has good camping.

There are a number of resorts in the Bishop Creek drainage below Lake Sabrina. Among them are Bishop Creek Lodge, Cardinal Village Resort, and Parcher's Resort by South Lake. Campgrounds abound along Bishop Creek: Sabrina Campground, Forks Campground, Bitterbrush Campground, Big Trees Campground, and others. Dispersed camping is not allowed along Bishop Creek.

Photo of Donkey Lake

Upper Baboon Lake (haze from 2010 fire)


Fishing supplies can be purchased locally at the following places:

  • Lake Sabrina Boat Landing
  • Brock's Flyfishing Specialists, Bishop
  • Sierra Trout Magnet Fly Shop, Bishop
  • Culvers Sporting Goods, Bishop
  • High Sierra Tackle, Bishop
  • Parchers Resort, South Lake

Recommended Books for Fishing the Eastern Sierra





Photo of Baboon Lake

Donkey Lake

Sidetrips

Nearby Donkey Lake is a sidetrip that should not be missed. The cross-country trail (mentioned above) connecting Baboon Lakes to Donkey Lake is a little rugged, but worth the scramble. Approaching Donkey Lake from below along the established trail is easy. Donkey Lake has brook trout and lots of open places from to fish.


Other Nearby Featured Trips in Inyo County


Also see in Eastern Sierra Fishing Maps: Bishop Creek


High Sierra Trails

A Backpacker's Guide to the
Most Spectacular Trails
in the Sierra Nevada