Horseshoe Meadow has two major trailheads (Cottonwood Lakes and Cottonwood Pass) providing access to areas such as the Golden Trout Wilderness, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, and the John Muir Wilderness. Numerous hiking adventures are possible.
I chose to do a 23 mile loop out of Horseshoe Meadow. I parked my car at the Cottonwood Pass trailhead. The trail segments for my hike included the Cottonwood Pass Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Siberian Pass Trail, the New Army Pass Trail, and the Cottonwood Lakes Trail. Two significant passes were encountered; Cottonwood Pass (11,200 ft.) and New Army Pass (12,300 ft.). I camped at Chicken Spring Lake the first night and Soldier Lakes (the lower of the two) the second night - both excellent places with many campsite options. My water sources were Chicken Spring Lake, Soldier Lakes, and Long Lake. Permit and regulation information for this area can be found on the Inyo National Forest website. A word of caution on this trail, New Army Pass can be impassable in the early summer due to snow. The conditions of the pass are available on the Sequoia & Kings Canyon website. Also, the road to Horseshoe Meadow constantly climbs with switchbacks, so be patient and keep your eyes on the road.
Pito T. on Lewis Camp Trail to the Little Kern River
We hiked this trail in March and it was awesome. We started at the Jerky meadow parking lot for a one day hike. It was all uphill from the beginning to golden trout wilderness sign. From there we headed towards the bridge and little kern and it was all downhill. When reached the river it felt good to soak our feet in the river and to refuel on some snacks. This was my second time walking this trail and it won't be the last. I had more fun with an overnight stay than just a one day in and out hike. If you get a chance ad it to your bucket list.
This was a great trail! The fishing was awesome and it is hard to beat catching one of the rarest trout in the USA, The Little Kern Golden Trout. The fish would literally jump out of the water and hit my fly! I hiked in June and it got pretty hot. Great time fishing all the streams and definitely worth the trip!
This trail had just been maintained last year ( Summer 2011 ), I know because when I backpacked Willow Mdws I met a trail maintence crew doing some brush clearing. I would do this hike in late June til the middle of July as both Trout and Willow Mdws are real green that time of year. Also there are some really good campsites at both of the meadows.
This is a well maintained trail, very wide in some places, the good thing about this trail its mostly downhill to the river but its a long uphill climb back. This trail is also heavily used you will not be alone on this trail.