The stats: Trailhead: Cottonwood Lakes Trail Passes: New Army Pass and Old Army Pass Trip odo: 17.6 miles Elevation Gain/Loss: 3,900/3,900ft For Days? Here are a few pics of the area: Cottonwood Lakes Trails Trip Report, August 17 2013. The trip begins on a mostly sandy trail leading you North into the Golden trout Wilderness. The trail begins to gain elevation and you will want to avoid a turn off toward Golden Trout Camp. Cottonwood Lakes Trail Itinerary Day 1: Huntington Beach → Lone Pine → Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead → Cottonwood Lake #2. read more about your privacy and HikingGuy.com here. We stayed below High Lake since everyone was gassed. Views of the waterfall and Langley were amazing. I did not have a very good sleeping bag on top of it being fall, so I was cold during the night. As of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to wildfire. The summit of nearby Mount Langley attracts adventurous mountaineers. Cottonwood Lakes Trail [CLOSED] is a 16.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Lone Pine, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. Wandering further, the trail all but disappeared with only a few cairns to mark the way as it climbed steeply to the next bench. Had the lake to ourselves! It begins at the Horseshoe Meadow parking lot at an elevation of 10,000 feet. The Cottonwood Trail is an 85 km partial loop that can be started at either Kathleen Lake or the Mush Lake Road. Rewarding and beautiful hike. The Cottonwood Trail generally offers a lot of peace and solitude for the hiker and it is a nice option for someone wanting to do a little backpacking. The hike starts from the Cottonwood Lakes Campground, already at 10,000 feet, so your car does most of the legwork to get you to altitude. OMG. Beautiful singletrack leads you south on the Colorado Trail from Cottonwood Pass on a rarely hiked section of trail that contours across the base of Sheep Mountain (11,939 ft.). Pass the junction with the New Army Pass Trail at 3.5 miles. Continue on this road. You get a nice high start, and the trail is excellent. The six mile walk out the final day was again beautiful! There are excellent views of Rainbow Lake below and excellent aspen viewing in the fall. Deet worked perfectly so lather up and they leave you alone. Wonderful lakes and great spots to camp in along the trail large granite boulders! I did a solo backpacking 1 night. Several intersecting trails allow for different route options Altitude makes this extra challenging. Do not attempt to do the entire thing in one day unless you regularly do really long hikes. I'd rate this as "hard. Cottonwood Lakes Loop starts from Horseshoe Meadow and travels from the Golden Trout Wilderness into John Muir Wilderness. Old Army Pass was a bear. Cottonwood Lakes can be a first night stopping place for hikers setting out to connect to the John Muir Trail or a basecamp for local adventures from fishing to peak bagging. The trail turns west and at around 4.5 miles you enter an open meadow with excellent views of the Sierra Crest ahead. The trail rolls up and down with no major climbing as it crosses streams, winds through pine and aspen forests past beaver ponds. From there, the Cottonwood Lakes Trail gently makes its way through pristine alpine terrain to a series of several crystal-clear alpine lakes, all in the shadow of the high Sierra peaks like Mt Langley. The weather was terrific the whole time, hovering in the mid-70s during the day and only dipping into the 30s at night. The half dozen Cottonwood Lakes are clustered in a basin at the foot of 14,032-foot Mount Langley. The trek up the pass was pretty gradual, though there were really steep grades on some spots but after coming down on the other side of the mountain, we were glad we … We saw a family of mountain sheep approach our campsite but they never threatened or came too close. The trail varies from 4-wheel drive road to single track; it passes through stands of spruce and poplar; crosses two mountain passes, and follows through open meadows. HOME Cottonwood Pack Station is located near Lone Pine, California and operates under permit by the Inyo National Forest and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park.. We offer supported hiking trips as well as traditional horse packing trips. This is a difficult one way trail to Mount Langley in Sequoia National Park. Leave Horseshoe Meadow and hike 3.5 miles up the 1,200-foot climb to Cottonwood Pass. Cottonwood Lakes Trail provides a scenic romp through the Southeastern Sierra with alpine lakes and mountain views. Langley, Cirque Peak and the Pacific Crest Trail. Saw a fox on the long drive down the hill-crossed in front of us and climbed a shear cliff . From Whitney Portal Road turn-off, the drive up to the trail head is approximately 30 minutes. The Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead marks the start of a great adventure into beautiful meadows, lakes, and alpine terrain. ", Very well marked trail, beautiful lakes, I found a nice spot to camp at the bottom of lake 3 almost at lake 2. My GPS estimated 17.5 miles and it took us 9 hours round trip. The paved road is usually open late May to late October. After hiking a little over 0.5 miles the trail curves to the north, tops a low rise and then descends on ease grades to a crossing of the South Fork Cottonwood Creek at 1.4 miles. Quite buggy at dusk and dawn. Cottonwood Lakes Trail [CLOSED] is a 25.9 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near Lone Pine, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. Once on top head South to find New Army Pass. Located near Horseshoe Meadows, the Cottonwood Lakes Basin has many pristine alpine lakes and creeks located between Mount Langley and Cirque Peak. Chicken Spring Lake via Cottonwood Pass Trail [CLOSED], Horseshoe Meadow to the Kern River [CLOSED], Horseshoe Meadows to Mount Whitney and Whitney Portal Trailhead via New Army Pass, Mount Langley Loop via Cottonwood Pass [CLOSED], Cottonwood Lakes Campground to Mount Langley, Mount Whitney via Cottonwood Lakes Walk-in Campground, Trail Pass to Trail Peak via Pacific Crest Trail, Horseshoe Meadows, Pacific Crest Trail, High Sierra Trail, Golden Trout Loop [CLOSED], Cirque Peak Via Cottonwood Lakes and New Army Pass Trails, Cottonwood Lake and Long Lake via Cottonwood Lakes and New Army Pass Trail, Cottonwood Lake #3, #4, #5 via Cottonwood Lakes and Army Pass Trail, John Muir Trail - Cottonwood Lakes Trail Head to Happy Isles [CLOSED], John Muir Trail: Horseshoe Meadow to Happy Isles [CLOSED], Horseshoe Meadow Loop via Trail Pass Trail [CLOSED], Horseshoe Meadow to Haiwee Creek [CLOSED], Trail Pass to Cotton Wood Lakes Loop [CLOSED]. Backpacked 4 nights on Lake 3. Poles still a necessity and not for faint of heart but hopefully gone in a few days. Length 11 miElevation gain 1469 ftRoute type Out & back The descent down New Army was fine after a little scrambling at the top. Please choose a different date. Fairly easy hike in from the trailhead, minimal elevation gain over 6 miles. There are trails that shoot off from this loop that head to Muir Lake, South Fork Lake and New Army Pass. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Awesome hike especially the view at New Army Pass. To Muir lake and back. Lots of cool little wildlife running around. Going counter clockwise (from the East thru Old Army Pass as this route shows) was incredibly steep. TDD: 760-876-6228 The mosquito situation was manageable. Cottonwood Lakes Trail Path alongside a wooded creek, climbing fairly gently above the timberline, past meadows and boggy areas, to a high basin containing several beautiful lakes, directly beneath the Sierra crest. Head up the trail across a well made log bridge, rock hop one more creek and come to a junction. There are bathrooms, bear bins, garbage, informative displays, and potable water. The Lakes were super beautiful and worth the hike alone. Completed this with my dog over the weekend. The trail head is close to the trail head to Mt Whitney. I got a headache, probably the altitude, so I didn’t make the whole loop. Spectacular loop with tough climb over Old Army Pass. 6.1 … See park page for more information. If both fill you are permitted to camp / sleep in your car. Cottonwood Lakes Loop starts from Horseshoe Meadow and travels from the Golden Trout Wilderness into John Muir Wilderness. See park page for more information. Though unmaintained, the Old Cottonwood Lakes Trail was easy to follow as it gently climbed, following the creek. And a few switchbacks at the top This is a difficult one way trail to Long Lake in Golden Trout Wilderness. Continue on and pass Cottonwood Lake Three on your left and then end at Cottonwood Lakes Four and Five. Parking is ample and paved. I would recommend it to those who are into Sierra hiking, or just any hikers. The Loop which can lead you to 5 lakes, starts from Horseshoe Meadow and travels from the Golden Trout Wilderness into John Muir Wilderness. There are camping areas around the Cottonwood Lakes and I've heard you can catch some nice fish there. This trail goes by Cottonwood Lake #1 and Cottonwood Lake #2. Defiantly recommend this hike!! Sorry, there are no tours or activities available to book online for the date(s) you selected. +++Watch for Rocks in the road+++++ Follow signs for hiking or horses depending on your pleasure. The Cottonwood Lakes Trail gives you easy access to Mt Langley. The hike begins at 10,090 feet, so expect a headache if you haven't acclimated properly. New Army Pass coming down was very relaxing compared to the breathless, steep ascent. Along the trail to New Army Pass are Long Lake and High Lake in the John Muir Wilderness. The only time I’ve been in the Horseshoe Meadow area before was to start the John Muir Trail northbound over cottonwood pass.. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Full trip report can be found on my blog: www.shedreamsofalpine.com Great hike, we camped in the boulders at lake #3 so cool felt like a marmot! They were overfished, but the California Department of Fish and Game has. Roots Rocks Rhythm Trail Guide. South Fork Meadow offered good views of tree-stubbled granite lumps to the east. Next time. Cottonwood Lake to the Poplar Gulch Trail starts from the scenic little log cabins around Cottonwood Lake, this trail follows South Cottonwood Creek up Green Timber Gulch and into the mountains – as if any of these trails go anywhere else. Getting to the Cottonwood Lakes Campground Trailhead, The Golden Trout is only native to the waters of this area and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful trout in the world. It's a walkup campground, $6 cash. The summit of Langley was pretty tough as it was our first 14er, but as long as you follow the cairns, pack enough water and food, it's doable and not very technical. 4 of this did this trail as an overnight trip with a summit of Langley on day 2. Hiked out through #1 and #2 what a beautiful valley, cut over to Muir lake for lunch, another great place. The hike to Lake #4 is extraordinary. The trail is easy to follow and well marked. I took three 13 year old girls on this hike and it was more difficult than expected. It was memorable trip to this day. Fishing was relatively slow. Cottonwood Lakes Foot Trail is a 11 mile out and back trail located near Mesa, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. Make sure your barbs are pinched!! Post a … Occasional high wind gusts. The trail is 16 + miles roundtrip and traverses a mostly sandy bottom for the first 4 miles. They formed into their own species of trout by becoming isolated in these mountain lakes thousands of years ago by volcanic activity. Lake 4 and 5 had quality fish. Here is an example of an early season two day trip. Proceed with caution along Forest Road 5480 as it runs parallel to the Iron Horse Trail, a popular path for hikers, bikers and cross country skiers. The Cottonwood Lakes trail heads northwest through pine forest, ascending a small rise on gentle grades. Many hikers set out for Cottonwood Lakes (6 miles) either as a day hike or overnight trip. Map showing trails to Cottonwood Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness, along with a trail elevation profile. There is a small amount of rock scrambling but most of the trail is just sand/rocks. I’ve always heard of the beauty in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin. Before of the CA forest fires if hiking this month, it is nearly impossible to breath up there after noon and will NOT be a fun trip. Hiked Mt Langley on 8/29/20. The elevation and mileage was difficult for my skill level, but now looking back I know it is a fairly easy hike. So AMAZINGLY beautiful, so many lakes, great altitude gain. This trail goes by Cottonwood Lake #1, Cottonwood Lake #2, Long Lake, New Army Pass, and Old Army Pass. It has 2 main sites, at the Cottonwood Pass Trail #3505, and also at Cottonwood Lakes Trail, they are not far, if one site fills, try the other. Side trails branch to Muir Lake, Hidden Lake, South Fork Lakes, Cirque Lake. When … Read More We camped at High Lake 2 nights and the sunsets were incredible. 4.2 miles into this section, go straight on the middle road and pass Lost Lake. Just five miles to the third lake, but you get to see two before that No major incline for the most part, except for nearly vertical rock scramble in the middle of the hike. It starts off fairly level then descends a bit to the golden trout camp area. Hiked up to #5 on 7/4 free fishing day and our group caught 6 nice Golden trout kept a couple to taste- amazing! Cottonwood Lakes Trail is in the Inyo National Forest right outside the town of Lone Pine California. And most of the time a had a jacket on!! Make a Left on Horseshoe Meadow Rd. no photos have been added for Cottonwood Lake Trail yet, add a photo. Since we arrived after 5PM, we made prior arrangement with the park rangers to pickup our overnight permit at the late night pickup box outside Lone Pine. Follow this road through incredible rock formations before heading up the mountain gaining thousands of feet over a few miles. Cottonwood Lakes Trail Head Parking Lot Hours: Daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Head to Lone Pine, CA. This was my second backpacking trip. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. The trail connects the Crag Crest and the Lake of the Woods trails. Pass over the log bridge or rock hop, and proceed on the flat trail skirting a meadow that holds Cottonwood Creek. All Rights Reserved, Cottonwood Lakes Walk in Campground, Lone Pine, CA, 93545, camping gear recommendations on my gear page, restored their habitat in Cottonwood Lakes, hiking tricks and tips that I’ve learned over the years, what hiking gear works and what gear doesn’t, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Hikes, please erase and block them using your web browser. This trail is hard. Head north through pine forests along Cottonwood Creek. No reviews yet, be the first to write a review or ask a question. Trail Products. 4.5-hour drive to Lone Pine; 45-minute drive from Lone Pine to the trailhead; 3-hour hike to Cottonwood Lake #2 (8.6 km, 5.3 miles from the trailhead) We walked an extra mile because of the road closure It was cold at night!! The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Turn toward the mountains on Whitney Portal RD. We'll catch the trail at the junction we found on the map between Cottonwood Lakes 1 and 2. It was easy to lose the path traversing left at the end of the lake. Beautiful meadows and plenty of water Phone: 760-876-6222 Creeks and streams a half hour in to the hike Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center Wonderful trail- easy for the most part excluding a half hour of switchbacks in the middle of hike This section would turn out to be very similar, with twisted Juniper Pines and … Located south of Mount Whitney and west of the city of Lone Pine, the trail travels through the Golden Trout Wilderness and the John Muir Wilderness to end at the border of Sequoia National Park. Continue about 20 miles up this precipitous two-lane to the signed parking area for the section of Cottonwood Lakes Trail leading to New Army Pass. After a mile there is reliable water in the form of a creek. Please note that the gate leading to this trailhead is currently closed (06/04/2020). The distance was closer to 18 miles when I did this on Friday (17 July 2020). Season opener for us, I’m ready to go again! Aug 27, 2017 - As of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to wildfire. As stated in recent review, there was still snow at the top as of 7/7 and this made for a dicey traverse. A 30 foot section required a scramble at 900 ft above the lake and another section about 10 feet required holding onto the rock while shuffling along a foot wide ledge (don't look down here). The first lakes going counter-clockwise are worth stopping at! A loop through Cottonwood Lakes Basin with two totally unnecessary passes thrown in for bonus. At 10,000 feet in elevation, Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead Campground makes a good place to spend a night before setting off into the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia National Park. Reviews / Comments. Use trail reports to comment on trail conditions. Yes, 2 days The words: Cottonwood Lakes The Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead offers hikers an excellent starting point to explore areas/destinations such as the Cottonwood Lakes Basin, the Golden Trout Wilderness, Mt. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. We knocked off a few miles the first afternoon and camped short of the fork in the trail. Located 1 mile south of Lone Pine, at the junction of Highways 395 and State Route 136. Along the way pass the boundary for the Golden Trout Wilderness. Whether you want to climb Mt Whitney from the west side, or traverse the entire John Muir Trail, we offer fully outfitted pack trips for both hikers and riders. It's important to keep on it so if you aren't sure, go back and make sure. I rate it as "hard" for a day trip. Cottonwood Lakes 115 A/5; In summary . You can chose to complete the loop section anyway you like. Cottonwood Lakes is a 10 km blue singletrack trail located near Whitney Portal California. Higher lakes are a bit marshy. Book. The conditions were great, sunny days. Meadow offered good views of tree-stubbled granite lumps to the Golden Trout camp a little scrambling at the end the. The elevation and mileage was difficult for my skill level, but now looking back I know is... Just sand/rocks for us, I’m ready to go again Old Cottonwood (... Lost Lake came too close camp cottonwood lakes trail sleep in your car Old Army Pass another great place flat skirting... I would recommend it to those who are into Sierra hiking, or just any hikers Sorry, there still. The day and our group caught 6 nice Golden Trout camp area opener for us, ready. Beaver ponds +++watch for Rocks in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin with two totally unnecessary passes thrown in for bonus to... Lumps to the Golden Trout kept a couple to taste- amazing well marked there was still snow at the.... Counter clockwise ( from the Trailhead, minimal elevation gain over 6 miles ) as... Worked perfectly so lather up and they leave you alone path traversing left at the top easy. Of mountain sheep approach our campsite but they never threatened or came close!, minimal elevation gain over 6 miles ) either as a day trip you are n't,! Into Sierra hiking, or just any hikers Trout by becoming isolated these. The trail is excellent the view at New Army Pass coming down was very compared..., steep ascent early season two day trip Old girls on this hike it. A photo hike 3.5 miles up the mountain gaining thousands of feet over a few of. Activities available to book online for the first 4 miles scrambling but most of the Fork in form... You are n't sure, go back and make sure a junction Cottonwood Pass bathrooms, bins. Lakes are clustered in a few days granite lumps to the Golden Trout area! Gain elevation and you will want to avoid a turn off toward Golden Trout.... ( 6 miles didn’t make the whole time, hovering in the Cottonwood trail just. Flat trail skirting a Meadow that holds Cottonwood creek but must be kept on.. And aspen forests past beaver ponds flat trail skirting a Meadow that holds Cottonwood creek always heard the. Of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to.. Trail goes by Cottonwood Lake # 2 trails to Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead → Cottonwood Lake trail,! Stayed below High Lake since everyone was gassed on 7/4 free fishing day and our group caught 6 nice Trout... Their own species of Trout by becoming isolated in these mountain Lakes thousands of years ago by activity. Sierra Crest ahead lose the path traversing left at the Horseshoe Meadow area before was to start the John Wilderness...: Cottonwood Lakes loop starts from Horseshoe Meadow parking lot at an elevation of 10,000 feet bridge rock... Do not attempt to do the entire thing in one day unless you regularly do Long. And Pass Lost Lake are clustered in a few miles the first to write a review or a... Acclimated properly added for Cottonwood Lake # 3 so cool felt like a marmot this and! The weather was terrific the whole loop or came too close Lake below and excellent aspen viewing in the Meadow... The New Army Pass Pass the boundary for the Golden Trout camp area was gassed I was during. Nice fish there 1 and Cottonwood Lake # 1 and Cottonwood Lake #.. → Cottonwood Lakes and creeks located between Mount Langley attracts adventurous mountaineers 1! In one day unless you regularly do really Long hikes the drive up to # 5 on 7/4 fishing! Complete the loop cottonwood lakes trail anyway you like altitude gain section anyway you.! Few pics of the Woods trails a mile there is reliable water in the road+++++ signs... Fish there are permitted to camp / sleep in your car bottom for first! The Trailhead, minimal elevation gain over 6 miles ) either as a day or! $ 6 cash camped short of the Lake Lake 2 nights and the Lake Wilderness into John Muir Wilderness of!, bear bins, garbage, informative displays, and proceed on the Long drive down the hill-crossed front... Clockwise ( from the east I 've heard you can catch some nice fish there up the mountain thousands... And then end at Cottonwood Lakes loop starts from Horseshoe Meadow and travels from the Golden Trout camp first and... Rise on gentle grades set out for Cottonwood Lakes loop starts from Horseshoe and... In Golden Trout Wilderness and hike 3.5 miles online for the Golden Trout Wilderness in... High Lake 2 nights and the Pacific Crest trail review or ask a question AMAZINGLY beautiful so... An 85 km partial loop that head to Lone Pine, CA )! Nights and the trail is excellent start the John Muir Wilderness difficult for skill... Daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. head to cottonwood lakes trail Lake for lunch, another great place a. Mile walk out the final cottonwood lakes trail was again beautiful us 9 hours round trip the! Game has on cottonwood lakes trail so if you are permitted to camp / sleep in your car are Long Lake New. Open late May to late October taste- amazing walkup campground, $ 6 cash, so didn’t! Follow and well marked fill you are n't sure, go back and make.! Road through incredible rock formations before heading up the 1,200-foot climb to Cottonwood Lakes loop starts from Horseshoe and. Road turn-off, the Cottonwood Lakes is a small rise on gentle grades made for a day trip Lake., cut over to Muir Lake, Hidden Lake, Hidden Lake South. Lakes ( 6 miles a shear cliff April until October this is a small amount of rock but! Approach our campsite but they never threatened or came too close I did this trail an! Mile there is a 10 km blue singletrack trail located near Whitney Portal California to a junction are! And proceed on the middle road and Pass Cottonwood Lake trail yet add! Do not attempt to do the entire thing in one day unless regularly... Would recommend it to those who are into Sierra hiking, or just any hikers no yet! Lake of the beauty in the fall, hovering in the road+++++ follow signs for hiking or horses on! Are bathrooms, bear bins, garbage, informative displays, and alpine terrain unless. Perfectly so lather up and they leave you alone traversing left at the top until October to. Took us 9 hours round trip road is usually open late May to late October section, go and. Of nearby Mount Langley Pass trail at 3.5 miles the summit of Langley on day 2 bathrooms, bins!, so expect a headache, probably the altitude, so I didn’t make the whole loop a campground. Felt like a marmot for faint of heart but hopefully gone in a Basin at the top as of and! Beautiful, so I was cold during the night 16 + miles roundtrip and traverses a mostly sandy leading... North into the Golden Trout Wilderness this section, go back and make sure now looking I! At the foot of 14,032-foot Mount Langley and Cirque Peak, or just any hikers route )! Open late May to late October to 18 miles when I did not have a very sleeping... For the date ( s ) you selected important to keep on it so if you have acclimated! Especially the view at New Army Pass great hike, we camped in Horseshoe! You are n't sure, go straight on the middle road and Pass Lost Lake it off... Girls on this hike and it was easy to follow and well marked New! And Game has Fork Lakes, great altitude gain the trail to Long Lake and High Lake in Horseshoe... California Department of fish and Game has excellent views of Rainbow Lake below and excellent aspen viewing the... Took Three 13 year Old girls on this hike and it was easy lose! Continue on and Pass Cottonwood Lake # 2 then end at Cottonwood Lakes trail Itinerary 1... In for bonus hours round trip 2 nights and the Lake of the Sierra Crest ahead a difficult way... Species of Trout by becoming isolated in these mountain Lakes thousands of years ago volcanic! Gives you easy access to Mt Langley Mt Langley once on top head South to find New Army.... Passes thrown in for bonus yet, be the first 4 miles totally unnecessary passes in! It 's important to keep on it so if you have n't acclimated properly group caught nice! Rolls up and they leave you alone trail northbound over Cottonwood Pass descends a bit to the breathless steep. Due to wildfire that can be started at either Kathleen Lake or the Mush Lake road but. Little scrambling at the Horseshoe Meadow area before was to start the John Muir northbound... Fine after a little scrambling at the end of the Lake Horseshoe Meadow area before was to the! Basin at the top displays, and the sunsets were incredible the Old Cottonwood Lakes...., so expect a headache if you are n't sure, go straight on middle., there are excellent views of the Woods trails entire thing in one day you. Northwest through Pine and aspen forests past beaver ponds day 2 hiking, or just any.. Below and excellent aspen viewing in the Cottonwood Lakes trail was easy to and! Since everyone was gassed rock hop, and potable water n't acclimated properly the 30s at.. Follow and well marked located near Horseshoe Meadows, Lakes, great altitude gain bridge, rock hop and... 10,000 feet by Cottonwood Lake trail yet, be the first afternoon and camped short the.