Cottonwood to Marble Canyon Loop Trail is a 26 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located in the state of CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from September until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Furness Creek: Follow Highway 190 to the landing strip at Stovepipe Wells Village. In the village turn right to reach the landing strip and Cottonwood/Marble Canyon Road. Pass the landing strip and turn left at the first road. This will lead you to Marble Canyon Trail, first right, and on to Cottonwood Canyon Trailhead, dead end.
The most popular DV backcountry hike although there are no signs or trail to guide you so come prepared with a few topo maps and GPS. After an extensive discussion with a ranger at Stovepipe we decide to do this route. He drew us a map and suggested just one topo for Harris Hill where most people get lost. We made it through the correct pass but had a bad hand-drawn map that sent us to the right of a hill that we were supposed to go left around. This led us to what we now have learned to be an "impassible" canyon. This also meant we missed our water source at Dead Horse. Don't do this. It meant a few hours of climbing down dry steep waterfalls followed by another three hours of hiking until we found Cottonwood Rd. Did I mention we ran out of water that morning? A learning experience for sure. Do your research, talk to a few rangers, bring your navigational tools, and lots of water in case you miss the few water sources. That being said - do this, it is awesome! You will be the only one out there and boy is it quiet. The stars and moon will blow you away. This website below is really helpful in prepping for your trip. Also note I've read in a few places that the loop is closer to 30-32 miles.
This seems to be a fairly common loop in Death Valley but I went from Friday morning to Sunday morning without seeing another soul. I also went in the opposite direction, starting up Marble Canyon and exiting Cottonwood Canyon. I'd highly recommend this in early spring as the weather was perfect (high 70's, low 50's) and desert flowers were in abundance after a few days of rain the previous week. Marble Canyon is a pretty easy slight uphill with only one challenge: a boulder blocked the canyon and you have to clamber up onto the west ridge to get around it. To get to Cottonwood Canyon you have to leave Marble Canyon where it turns west and head roughly South into Dead Horse Canyon. It's easy to miss this if you're not paying attention. There is a spring at the souther turn of Dead Horse Canyon that is very thick and difficult to get through or around. Good camping is all around though. The hike from Deadwood over to Cottonwood is pretty strenuous as there is a lot of climbing and no marked trails. Topo map and/or GPS is essential. The string of springs in Cottonwood Canyon are great although difficult to get through or around. There are some paths along the canyon wall that are useful. I camped just below the third and final spring. The final hike out is a nice easy downhill that goes quickly through some nice narrows, but not as scenic as Marble Canyons.