Cottonwood Pass Trail

Horseshoe Meadow

Starting from the end of Horseshoe Meadows Road, the trail over Cottonwood Pass goes to the northern portion of the Golden Trout Wilderness. Small streams meander through tree-rimmed meadows in this wilderness area named for California's state fish, the Golden Trout. The Pacific Crest Trail junction at Cottonwood Pass gives the option to go to the southeastern portion of Sequoia National Park.

Common Destinations: Cottonwood Pass, Chicken Spring Lake, Rocky Basin Lakes, Big Whitney Meadow, John Muir Trail

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

Cottonwood Pass Trail Recreation Guide (pdf)

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Weather
Reservations: Reserve up to 6 months in advance at
Rentals & Guides: Cottonwood Pack Station, located near Horseshoe Meadows offers day rides and mule pack trips (760) 872-8331
Permit Info:
  • Wilderness permit required year round for overnight trips.
  • Day use does not require a permit
  • From the last Friday in June to September 15 quota limits visitors to 40 people per day
Closest Towns: Lone Pine, CA (full service, hospital)
Water: Water from creeks, lakes and springs should be treated before drinking.
Restroom: Vault toilet at trailhead. Along trails, bury human waste away from water sources.
Information Center:

General Information


From US Highway 395, in Lone Pine, CA:

  • Turn west on Whitney Portal Road.
  • Turn south on Horseshoe Meadow Road.
  • The road climbs to about 10,000 feet elevation in approximately 15 miles, and ends at Horseshoe Meadows.

General Notes:


  • USGS Quad: Cirque Peak; Johnson Peak
  • USDA Forest Service: A Guide to the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia Kings Canyon Wilderness
  • Tom Harrison: Golden Trout Wilderness; Mt. Whitney High Country; Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
  • National Geographic: Mt Whitney

Seasonal Information

Horseshoe Meadow Road is usually open from Memorial Day until the first week of November, depending on snow conditions.

Traveling in bear Country

In some areas accesed by the Cottonwood pass Trail, food must be stored in bear-proof containers. In other areas, it may be counter-balanced.

At the trailhead, all food, trash and scented items must be removed from vehicles and placed in the bear-proof lockers and trash receptacles that are located in the parking lot.  Do not leave anything with a scent in your car.

For more information about protecting your food from bears, click here... 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


River and Stream Fishing

Special fishing regulations for Horseshoe Meadows, Cottonwood Creek and Golden Trout Wilderness

Link: Map of Fishing Regulations

California Fish and Wildlife regulations:

Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
9940 ft. at Horseshoe Meadows trailhead. - 11130 ft. at Cottonwood Pass