Sawmill Pass Trail

The Sawmill Pass Trail is steep and strenuous. It climbs through the John Muir Wilderness to the Sierra Crest, gaining more than 6,700 feet of elevation, and enters Kings Canyon National Park in the Woods Creek area. There is no water or shade at the trailhead or along the first few miles of the trail. A pre-dawn start is recommended during the summer and early autumn.

Common Destinations: Sawmill Meadow, Sawmill Pass, Woods Lake, John Muir Trail

Download area map for trail names.
To purchase more detailed maps or guidebooks of the area, visit

Sawmill Pass Trail Recreation Guide (pdf)

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Weather
Reservations: Reserve up to 6 months in advance at
Permit Info:
  • Wilderness permit required year round for overnight trips.
  • Day use does not require a permit.
  • May 1 through November 1 overnight visitors are limited to 10 people per day.
Closest Towns:
  • Independence, CA (food, gas, lodging)
  • Lone Pine, CA (full service, hospital)
Information Center: Maps
  • USDA Forest Service: A Guide to the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness
  • USGS Quad: Aberdeen; Mount Pinchot
  • Tom Harrison: Kings Canyon High Country; Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

General Information


From US Highway 395, 8 miles north of Independence, CA:

  • Turn west on Black Rock Springs Rd.
  • Drive to Tinemaha Rd ("Old 395") and turn north.
  • Drive 1.2 miles to Division Creek Powerhouse Rd. and turn west.
  • Drive 1.5 miles to the trailhead.
  • Trailhead is on south side of road.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Lake and Pond Fishing

Rainbow Trout is the reward for the steep hike up to Sawmill Lake, located approximately 6 miles from the trailhead, with an elevation gain of about 5,500 vertical feet.


Permit required?: Y
Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Difficult

Horse Riding

Reservation info: Permits may be reserved up to 6 months in advance.
Reservation Fee - $5 / Person
Wilderness Permit Reservation Office (760) 873-2483
Permit: Wilderness permits are required for overnight trips into the John Muir Wilderness and Kings Canyon National Park. Obtain wilderness permits from any Inyo National Forest visitor center.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Difficult

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4,586 ft. - 11,346 ft.