Offroading the Inyo Range, Swansea to Salt Tram to Cerro Gordo, Owens Lake, Lone Pine, Buttermilk Trail in Bishop

The Swansea to Salt Tram 4×4 offroad trail starts about nine miles east of the junction of US395 and CA136, in the Owens Valley, at the south end of Lone Pine. If you choose to come out on the Hwy 395 side, the trail ends in Keeler, CA. Specific details with maps and photos are at the two links below. You won’t need a rock crawler to complete this trail, but you’ll want a 4×4 with low gear, a full-size spare tire, and at least one locker if possible. As the trail goes up hill towards the New York Butte, and the iconic Burgess Mining Camp shack, there are a couple of campsites right on the trail. Elevation at the top is something like 9,600ft., so be prepared for a cold night if you are camping, even into the month of June.×4-road/map×4/swansea.html

The Buttermilk Rd. going out of Bishop CA, is a popular spot with the locals, you’ll see everything from street cars to mini-vans on this road, but only until the going starts getting a bit rocky. To get there leave Hwy 395 in Bishop, and turn west on Line Street. Follow Hwy 168 approximately eight miles to Buttermilk Rd on the right. Follow Buttermilk Road 07S01(dirt) into a maze of marked roads with names that didn’t match what Google Maps calls ’em. If you are lucky and persistent you could end up on the road to Lake Horton, which comes to an abrupt stop at a locked gate. There are many signs proclaiming that this land is owned by the City of LA, no camping allowed, but that looks to be generally ignored. The short history of this area is that Los Angeles drained the Owens Lake dry, created a giant dust bowl, and bought up a bunch of land in the process. Don’t forget to stop off at the Great Basin Bakery before you start out, it’s right off Main St. at the south end of Bishop, turn on Lagoon St.

While you are in the area, take spin up to the Bristlecone Pine Forest, at 10,000ft or so elevation:

All photos taken with a Sony a7R and Canon FDn 50/1.4 lens.

Dan Euritt

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