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If you don’t want to spend several days in the backcountry there are some easier ways to experience the colorful leaves, alpine lakes and towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

There is plenty of affordable lodging in Bishop and you can drive up California State Route 128 for day hikes from North or South lakes.

If you don’t want to spring for a hotel room there are also several campgrounds in the area.

From North Lake consider a day hike up Piute Pass. The forested portion of the trail is showing color, as are the trees near the road and around North Lake itself.

If you’re feeling strong head as far as you can toward the top of the pass. Loch Leven and Piute Lake are good destinations. And if you make it to the top of the pass you can see Summit Lake as well.

You can also make the shorter hike from North Lake to Upper Lamark Lake as a day trip.

There are even more day hiking or shorter overnight options from South Lake.

You can park near the lake and experience the fall color and the lake and mountain views within steps of the parking lot.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can day hike to Long, Saddlerock or Bishop lakes. There are many smaller lakes in between them.

If you decide to try to reach the top of Bishop Pass be aware it is a demanding hike and you would need to be a strong hiker with an early start to comfortably reach the top and return before dark.

Also, if you’re planning to camp in the area be sure to get an overnight wilderness permit from the Inyo National Forest.

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