There’s short detour use trails around the boulder that will get you back to the switchbacks. The trail then follows cairns to the top. While this isn’t one of the jackets in our Best Rain Jackets article, it’s popular with thru-hikers because of its lightweight. This means you can access the alpine country with less climbing and elevation gain than if you started at lower trailheads. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. 361 Trip Reports for this trail, below Hike by WTA Correspondents: Claire Mitchell. Semi loop out and back on the Cottonwood Lakes Trail in Inyo National Forest, Lone Pine CA A loop through Cottonwood Lakes Basin with two totally unnecessary passes thrown in for bonus. WHERE: About 225 miles (4 hours) north of Los Angeles. Old Army Pass sits at the west end of 4th Lake. Once off the switchbacks of Old Army Pass, we picnicked by the shady Cottonwood Lake #4, notable for great fishing. It’s  important regardless of the regulations to store food safely away from bears, marmots, and whatever other wildlife may be interested in your food. RECOMMENDED HIKE: A strenuous 27-mile loop follows Horseshoe Meadow via Cottonwood Pass trailhead to Rock Creek along the Pacific Crest Trail, then up the creek, over 12,400-foot New Army Pass, and then exiting through Cottonwood Pass trailhead in Golden Trout Wilderness. The summit has incredible views of Mt. At 4.4 miles, take a side trail to the right collect water at Chicken Spring Lake, which is tucked into one of the rocky cirques below Cirque Peak (12,894 feet). Both the Egret and Swallow are our Overall Winners in our Best Sleeping Bags story. The trail flattens. We figured that section of trail would feel anticlimactic at the end of our trip so best to get it out of the way in the beginning. Langley, Cirque Peak and the Pacific Crest Trail. It begins at the Horseshoe Meadow parking lot at an elevation of 10,000 feet. Although this loop takes you up and over two alpine passes, the elevation gain is relatively moderate because you start at one of the highest elevation trailheads in California. See below for how to get permits. Permits are limited. Map Information. About 5 miles from the pass, we reached an Inyo National Forest sign. Even though California mountains are known for relatively good weather with less rain than other ranges, you should always carry rain gear and extra layers for cold evenings and chilly mornings. We are meeting at the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead at 8:00am. For information and reservations, call (760) 878-2015. You get a nice high start, and the trail is excellent. Suite 200 You’re at 11,500 feet looking out at Whitney Meadow to the west and the green valley below Siberian Pass to the northwest. Water from creeks, lakes and springs should be treated before drinking. We both used the Neo Air XLite sleeping pads on this trip—one in short and one in 6-foot length. The PCT from the junction from Cottonwood Pass to Upper Rock Creek Lake was alos clear of snow, good trail conditions. Check local regulations. See our Make Your Own Emergency Kit story. Langley area:  8. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and easy to inflate without taking much volume in our pack. There’s also a McDonalds in Lone Pine that seems to excite many backpackers. Lower Soldier Lake This 19.2-mile loop crosses Cottonwood Pass and New Army Pass to visit a beautiful lake that is an ideal camping spot for backpackers heading higher and deeper into the Sierra. From Lone Pine, you’ll have to hitchhike to get up to the pass (but it’s relatively easy as most traffic on that road is headed your direction). Langley track to be useful to have on our phones. Head north through pine forests along Cottonwood Creek. High Sierra Trails website makes no warranties regarding the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of any of its maps. Permits are available at (select Inyo National Forest Wilderness permits). We are proud to be independent. 100% Upvoted. Backpacking Cottonwood Lakes Loop & SummitIng Mount Langley - Inyo National Forest. Because the route is at such a high altitude, having adequate sun protection was important. You can extend this route by 7 miles by continuing on the PCT all the way to Lower Rock Creek Camp and then following Rock Creek west all the way to Army Pass. The trail turns west and at around 4.5 miles you enter an open meadow with excellent views of the Sierra Crest ahead. This is also the cut-off to climb the nearby 14,000 foot Mt. Right after hopping across Rock Creek, turn right following signs for the Army Pass Trail. Just a mile later, you’ll leave the PCT, turning right on the Siberian Pass Trail (also signed Upper Rock Creek). If you’re planning to climb Mt. 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. Group size must be limited to 8 people or less (some parts of the loop are up to 15, but it’s 8 if you want the full loop). The summit of Mt Langley (14,026 feet) is a worthy side-trip to the Cottonwood Lakes Loop Backpacking Trip. Mirror and Cottonwood Lakes Hike Info. Learn more about our mission and what makes us different here. Emergency Beacon: The Garmin InReach Mini allows two way texting from the backcountry, spot forecasting and more. The Cottonwood Lakes are home to California's state fish, the Golden Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita). Stay on the PCT as it contours through twisted foxtail pine forest, resembling an Ansel Adams photograph. Each of us carried 2-3 Pair socks. It begins at the Horseshoe Meadow parking lot at an elevation of 10,000 feet. Yes, 2 days The words: Cottonwood Lakes Whitney to the north, Owens Valley below to the west, and the Kern River Valley to the east. Turn left onto Horseshoe Meadow Road and take it all the way up the mountain for 19.5 miles. Whitney alternative hike with easier-to-get permits, this loop just south of that famous area gives you a taste of the Sierra high country without the hassle. As the 9th highest peak in California, it’s also one of the easiest 14ers to climb. They’re comparable in length, though New Army is slightly longer and more elevation gain (but not by much). Aim to hike after the snow has melted—usually late June or July. We used the Feathered Friends Egret (women’s) and Feathered Friends Swallow (men’s) on this backpacking trip. You’ll find streamlets flowing everywhere. You decide. From there, you’ve got 3.5 shady miles following Cottonwood Creek down to an intersection. Whether you are a novice backpacker or you have thousands of trail miles under your belt, chances are that the Cottonwood Lakes Loop will draw your attention sooner or later. Cottonwood Lakes Campground to Mount Langley is a 19.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lone Pine, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. It spits you out 3.5 miles later at a 3-way intersection. Best to time your trip to avoid snow on Old Army Pass and/or mosquitos, Cottonwood Lake #1 and Old Army Pass on the Cottonwood Lakes Loop. Old Army Pass has some large boulders that have fallen on the trail. It requires watching a short video and is printable at home. Located in California's beautiful eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Inyo National Forest offers challenging trails, high mountain peaks, and unparalleled views. Horseshoe Meadows; Cottonwood Lakes; The East-Southeast Ridge; Diaz Creek & Owens Valley; Moonscape; 14,039 feet above Sea Level; Crashing Army Pass; Finishing the Loop; I've enjoyed my time on the summit of Mount Langley, but I'm ready to begin the descent toward Army Pass. We’re 100% reader-supported publication. 6/20 - … They are less than half a mile apart and connected by trails, allowing you to hike a complete loop. This is a moderate loop trail to Old Army Pass in Sequoia National Park. At Treeline, we want you to buy right the first time. Our campsite at sunset along the New Army Trail on the Cottonwood Lakes Loop. Parking was free and the Silver Lake… save hide report. This 23.2 mile loop through classic High Sierra landscapes features lakes, streams, expansive vistas, plenty of great camping options, attainable summits, and some adventurous off-trail travel into adjacent glacial basins. Vault toilet at trailhead. For fishing regulations, go to, For fishing regulations go to The green meadows in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin looking towards Cirque Peak. If you have extra food or garbage in your car, you can store them in those boxes (and don’t have to carry them into the backcountry). Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park requires that you store food, garage, and smellables like toiletries in a bear canister. Turn left at Lubken Canyon Rd, a narrow and unlikely shortcut through a private Pheasant Hunting Club. If coming from the North, Copper BBQ in Big Pine is divine (for the meat eaters out there). Explore Inyo National Forest - Wilderness Permits in Inyo National Forest, California with The campground is 24 miles southwest of the town of Lone Pine. Because the hike is arguably easier than Mt. August is usually a safe month for snow and may have fewer mosquitoes, though it will be warmer, and not all water sources may be flowing. Head north through pine forests along Cottonwood Creek. It’ll be in our update of the Best Backpacking Stoves story. Stay straight through shaded, relatively flat trail across the expansive Horseshoe Meadow—a green and inviting flat area rare in the Sierra. After 9.5 miles, reach wildflower-lined Rock Creek—a perfect place to take a lunch or camp. Good for swimming, lunching, and leisuring. Continue on and pass Cottonwood Lake Three on your left and then end at Cottonwood Lakes Four and Five. If you’re early in the season or even hiking in August during a big snow year, New Army is a better bet. On the way back up to Army Pass, you’ll visit the Rock Creek Lake camping area (also great for wading). Patagonia Active Briefs and Patagonia Essential Boxer Briefs, featured in our Urban Hiking Packing List. Here, you can make the decision to take New Army Pass or a not-marked junction over to Old Army Pass.

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