Photo of Marie Louise Lakes,  Inyo County, CA

Marie Louise Lakes - Inyo County

Photo of South Lake

South Lake

Less than 2 miles up the trail from South Lake are the quiet Marie Louise Lakes. Just off the main hiking trail leading up over Bishop Pass into Kings Canyon National Park, Marie Louise Lakes see few visitors. They are easy to overlook. But the fishing is great for pan size trout that are eager to snap up your fly.

Situated in the John Muir Wilderness, Marie Louise Lakes are protected by light forest and granite cliffs. Off in the distance 12,000-foot Chocolate Peak glistens in the clear morning light. While the lower lake offers a variety of fishing locations and challenges, it is the unassuming upper lake that will keep you busy. These lakes make a great place to bring children anxious to catch their first fish.


In My Creel

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

Smaller flies worked the best. The fish in the upper lake didn't seem to care what I tossed their way, they were eager to strike.



Making Your Way to Marie Louise Lakes

Map

The trail to Marie Louise Lakes begins at South Lake, a 20-mile drive east from Bishop on Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierra. The Weir Pond just below South Lake is a popular fly fishing destination, as are the South Fork of Bishop Creek and South Lake itself.

Photo of Weir Lake

Weir Pond

The trail sets out along the south shore of South Lake for a short distance, climbing steadily. Then it swings south and continues to climb. Don't make the mistake I did by cutting over to little Hurd Lake for some fishing. I saw nothing there. However, maybe someone else will have better luck than I did. There is no marked trail to Hurd Lake, but by using Hurd Peak as your signpost, you can pretty easily pick your way there. I did stumble on a use-trail.

The trail to Marie Louise Lakes turns off the main trail after hiking about a mile and a third from South Lake. There is an obvious sign. The trail dips across a creek and then climbs up a stiff rise to the lakes. The entire hike was about an 800-foot climb, 1.75 miles.

As I mentioned above, it was the upper lake that was teeming with fish. Parts of the shoreline are a little marshy, but nothing to deter you. The lower lake was good fishing also, but required a little more effort. The fish I caught were all brook trout, none big enough to brag about. For me, it was catch and release.

Photo of Hurd Lake

Hurd Lake

Accommodations and Supplies

There are possible backpacking campsites near the lower lake and between the two lakes, but they are so close to South Lake it hardly makes sense to backpack unless you are planning to continue deeper into the wilderness.

There are a number of resorts in the Bishop Creek drainage below South Lake and its neighbor, Sabrina Lake. 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.


California's Best Camping logo

To find the very best campgrounds in the Eastern Sierra and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.

You can pick up fishing supplies locally at the following places:


Recommended Books for Fishing the Eastern Sierra




Photo of lower Marie Louise Lakes

Upper Marie Louise Lake

Sidetrips:

There are a dozen other lakes sprinkled about the area, many of them looking very promising. Among them are Chocolate Lakes and Treasure Lakes.


Other Featured Trips near South Lake


  • Bull Lake - Just a short hop from Marie Louise Lakes, good fishing and some scenic campsites
  • Baboon Lakes - beautiful lakes to explore, days of good fishing
  • Hungry Packer Lake - an incredible beautiful lake high in the Sabrina Basin with rewarding fishing
  • Bottleneck Lake - for adventurous anglers, this lake is a superb destination, cross-country and uphill, but worth the effort



High Sierra Trails

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