Climbing Mt. Tom
October 12, 2007

Mt. Tom from Bishop, CA 10/13/07
13,652 ft., 4161 m


In October, 2007 we drove up to Bishop, CA from our home in Encinitas.  We live at sea level and Bishop is about 4,000 ft.  That afternoon, we scoped out the road to the trail head (which is at 8,000 ft) and would attempt the climb Mt. Tom early the next morning.

The road to the trail head is mostly dirt road and is well maintained up to the Buttermilk climbing area.  After that, you will need a high clearance vehicle and perhaps even 4WD to get to the trail head, which is nothing more than a locked gate on the road heading up to Horton Lake.  It takes about 45 minutes to drive from Bishop to the locked gate (trail head)

Here are some useful GPS coordinates:

1.  You take Hwy 168 from Bishop toward Lake Sabrina.  At approx. N37 20.115, W118 30.942 you will reach the turnoff to the right for Buttermilk Rd.  It turns to dirt almost immediately.

2.  You continue on this dirt road for 6 miles to N37 18.521, W118 36.539.  You will find a small road going to the right.  You may also see a small sign that says "Horton Lakes TH"

3.  After you turn right, the road gets worse quickly but there is only 1.3 miles to go before you reach the locked gate at N37 18.730, W118 37.491

4.  Hiking begins at the locked gate (8,050 ft) and takes you past Horton Lakes (N37 19.178, W118 39.833) and to the summit of Mt. Tom (13,652 ft).  We, unfortunately were not well acclimatized and Barb turned back at about 11,500 ft and I ran out of time and turned around at 2:15 PM at 12,681 ft).  Round trip is only about 14 miles but you have an elevation gain of 5,600 ft. and for the last 1,500 ft, the going is slow as you are boulder hopping.

5.  We will be back to Mt. Tom and summit but next time be more acclimatized and start earlier.  I think 11 to 12 hours would be reasonable for people in our physical shape. (we climb at about 900 ft per hour)

See the movie of this trip here  (7 minutes) - on YouTube

NOTE: Jack solo climbed Mt. Tom in 2013 and was successful on his third attempt see the video. Climbing it? Get the Beta here.


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