No crowds, no cell phone service—now that’s a wilderness getaway! The hugely underrated Rock Creek Lake in the Inyo National Forest of the eastern Sierra is known for its peaceful lake scenery and stunningly beautiful alpine valley hike at Mosquito Flats. Opt for a little-used trail that highlights its primary moniker, Rock Creek. This roughly 6-mile (round-trip) hike parallels the creek and is easy to follow. Descend into a canyon of lodgepole pines and aspens. A boardwalk section leads to a charming bridge over the flowing creek, surrounded by cabins and East Fork Campground (offering more shade and solitude than the lake sites—see BONUS). Head back the way you came, ascending back to Rock Creek Lake.
BONUS STAY & EAT: Rock Creek Lake has excellent camping in both Rock Creek Lake Campground and East Fork Campground. There’s also the charming and rustic Rock Creek Lakes Resort, ten secluded cabins owned and operated by the King family since 1979. The lodge headquarters has boat rentals and a delicious breakfast and lunch, including grass-fed burgers with a tasty homemade BBQ sauce, and possibly the most delicious strawberry-rhubarb crumble you’ll ever eat.
To get to the trailhead and parking lot, take either CA-14 or I-15 to U.S. 395 N. Pass through Bishop and, 25 miles further on, at Tom’s Place turn left onto Rock Creek Rd. Follow it up the hill, taking a left at the sign for Rock Creek Lake Campground directly across from the lodge, parking at the first set of spots. Head for the trail on the left of the road, marked by a sign indicating the way to the creek and East Fork Campground. Dog-friendly!