One of the main things I love about spending time outdoors is the ability to explore an area on your own terms and forge your own path if you wish – you can either stay on the well trodden track (which definitely has its time and place) or you can set off on your own and figure it out as you go. I grew up in a family that tends to do the latter, for better or worse. We’ve gone on many “Timber’s adventures” including an 8-hour accidental bike ride around Maui, a white-water rafting trip in the Dominican Republic where the river was so raging that it flowed over bridges, and a backcountry ski trip in Banff where I had to jump down a 12 ft cliff because that was the only way I could go. In the moment, these adventures may not feel ‘fun’, but they always make for good memories and great stories afterwards.
This hike wasn’t a “Timber’s adventure” perse, but I did feel like I got off the beaten path and had to figure out the route as I went. The trail isn’t well marked and I couldn’t find any good maps of the area, so there was some backtracking involved and lots of GPS checking. I also discovered that the trail is STEEP! If you go, take plenty of water (no water on the trail) and plan on being out in the sun for 4-5+ hours. It’s especially hot in the summer months.
The Druid Stone Trail Loop starts on Bir road, about a mile outside of Bishop (the parking area is marked on Google Maps). Park on the side of the pavement then walk down the dirt fire road to where Warm Spring Road ends in a cul-de-sac. You’ll see a trail leading off to the right. Note that there’s a pretty well marked “Z” trail that climbs up the side of the mountain. This is not the Druid Stone Trail. Keep making your way to the right and you’ll find the correct trailhead.
The Druid Stone Trial climbs pretty steeply over the next 1.5 miles. There are some switchbacks, which lessen the pitch, but it’s still a grunt! At around mile 1 there is a faint trail that leads off to the right. You might not even notice it because it’s pretty indistinct (I missed it on my way up!) This is where the loop will complete. Continue along the main trail and you’ll come to the Druid Stone boulders on your left after another half mile or so. Definitely stop and spend some time exploring the rock formations, they’re pretty cool! The Paiute tribe called this area Eganobe and used it as a resting/gathering place. I tried to find more information about its history, but didn’t really come up with anything.
The trail continues on past Eganobe and climbs pretty steeply. Go slow and drink lots of water. When you get to the top, continue on the path and keep your eye out for a faint trail that shoots 90° off to the right. It’s about a mile, maybe a bit less, from the top of the hill. If you begin climbing up again, you’ve gone too far. (The intersection is marked “Druid Loop Topend 1” on Google Maps). Take this trail to the right and head back down through boulder fields to the main trail. In all, the loop is only about 4.5 miles, but because of the potential heat, the steepness of the trail, and the slightly high elevation (4,000ft) it’s a good day hike!