Explore the most popular birding trails in Golden Trout Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

2 days ago

Went in May and all the lakes were frozen over. Beautiful place, will definitely be going in July to fish.

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing

backpacking
4 months ago

This was my first experience overnight backing packing and I absolutely loved it. Beautiful location and quite. This place made me fall in love with the back country.

beautiful in the spring

backpacking
6 months ago

Stunning area to see. Easy to navigate area. Great for acclimatizing.

Other than the gusty wind it’s a great trip.
Fly fishing was tough windy but the Golden’s were there.

hiking
6 months ago

This was a pretty easy hike with beautiful scenery the entire time!

World class. Spectacular. Relatively easy day hike.

backpacking
8 months ago

Probably my favorite trailhead in the sierras!

What a great hike! The trailhead starts just west of the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead, and they do NOT share the same parking area. The first 2 miles are very flat, and you'll cover ground quickly. Small wildlife is present, and you'll see some cows to the south in the open valley. The climb up the pass is steady, and moderate intensity. Nothing technical. Take a moment to soak in the views once you reach the top. From the pass, the lake isn't far along toward the northwest. Follow the trail until you get to a creek crossing. From there, just go upstream, which takes you to the outlet of the lake. You can't fully visualize Cirque Peak from the lake, but an impressive false summit is visible. The fishing was sparse, but the lake was still wonderful, relaxing, and well worth the hike.

Took my Boy Scout troop there this weekend. Awesome sites, beautiful meadows, streams, wild flowers, hiking under a canopy the whole time kept us cool. We went all the way back by Mike's cabin, about a 5 mile hike and camped at the fire pit. Very cool hike, would do it again. Best fishing was at Casa Vieja, so stop there and fish. The other streams were flowing too fast.

Beautiful hike with great views during the first couple miles in, and then a pretty neat fiver crossing at Kern. No joke though, that uphill hike basically the entire hike back is very tough.

10 months ago

Did this in 2009 and it was great! Had a minor detour as we got to the farthest point of the loop where signage was scarce. Spent about an hour trying to find the trail through the middle of a bog.

backpacking
10 months ago

Backpacked for 4 days in Mid June plenty of snow above 11000 feet, Took my two teenage daughters on our second trip to the cottonwood lakes, they were still amazed by the beauty of nature. We saw many deer and a coyote so they thought it was amazing.

Just finished hiking up to Lake 3 and 4. Beautiful!!! The snow on the ground made it even better!

The hike to the lake and back was about 9 miles. There were two small patches of snow just below the pass, but both were easy to cross. The meadow is beautifully green and the lake was a nice reward after the switchbacks. The trail was a little buggy, so bug spray is recommended.

Good hike definitely harder on the way back. Great signage initially but sparse indicators once you reach trout meadow, big thanks to those who maintain it. This is a well maintained trail. We found heading left at unmarked forks got us to trout meadow. We did find a water source next to the rustic federal building in the meadow, although a barbed wire live stalk fence prevents access to creek that runs parallel to the meadow.

Completed this hike over fathers day weekend 2017 after tons of research trying to find a trail that had open roads, safe river crossings, and was without 5-10ft of snow. We hiked into Trout Meadows Friday night and made camp and day hiked down to the Kern River from there returning on Sunday. With the current snow melt situation there was plenty of water to filter along the way and the meadows were lush and alive. The little Kern and especially the big Kern were raging. We had hoped to find a little spot by the river that we could splash around in but the most we put in were our feet due to the current. Well maintained trail through diverse communities with moments of sweeping views of the canyons and snow capped peaks. All in all we roughly covered 30 miles. We saw deer, a bear, a bit of bear scat along the trail, lots of baby frogs and wildflowers in the meadows, heard bears, heard a huge group of coyotes, watched a helicopter make 3 flights over head (still not sure why), and warded off mosquitos. As others have said the reverse grade was quite a butt kicker and hiking out during the heat wave was tough as well as through the sandy trail. But overall it was magical and beautiful and we had an amazing time.

Absolutely loved this hike, except for the whole retrograde elevation aspect. Climbing uphill to finish the hike isn't ideal, but this hike had enough goodies to more than make up for it. The first 2 miles or so you have great views north into the High Sierras. This time of year (early June), most of the peaks were still snowcovered. Occasionally to the south you can catch a glimpse of the north side of the Needles. You'll come across water access about 3 miles in, which is consistent the rest of the way in to the Little Kern River. Once at the river, hang out at a river access point down by the bridge for a moment before heading on further into the trail, or turning back. The footbridge across the Little Kern is very sturdy and well engineered, and can be crossed anytime of year.

Didn't make it all the way up (hit just shy of 11k ft) . Still too much snow from this year's record snowfall and didn't have crampons or picks. No wonder we didn't see another soul on the trail. In a month or two, should be beautiful, albeit strenuous in parts.

This is a great hike for beginners and the experienced. It's a slight downhill path all the way to Casa Vieja once you reach the Golden Trout Wilderness sign from the parking lot. From the sign for about 100yds it is the steepest decline of the entire trail. Bring your camera and take plenty of pictures. There is an old Forest Service Cabin on the other side of the meadow that is worth seeing. They still use it in the summer, so make sure you announce yourself. The views are out of a postcard. If you have the time walk around the meadow - don't walk through it, you'll get a crash course in why it's a meadow (Swamp!). There are golden trout in the stream and springs all around.

backpacking
Thursday, March 09, 2017

Fantastic trail. Did this back in 2014....twice. Only negative was the recent burn area from the Angola Mountain Fire. That area can be easily bypassed though. Water at Trout Meadow from a spring box, and also at Willow spring. Continue on for an easy drop down to the Kern. Camp at Grasshopper Flat. We were trying for Kern Lakes but didn't make it.

backpacking
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Backpacked up to Lake 5 (10/21/16) for an overnighter. Well marked trail. Windy Sat. night. Beautiful area.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Good five hour hike today! Enjoyed the view, unfortunately didn't get to explore everything because it got super windy and the clouds set in. But all in all a great hike!

backpacking
Sunday, October 02, 2016

Took the unmaintained trail that branched off the trail ~1.2 miles from the trailhead. Turned out to be around 5 miles to South Forks Lake. When you're walking along the meadow, make sure to stay right along the creek. Beautiful lake, with golden meadows. Windy and VERY cold at night. Definitely end of Sierra season. Beautiful hike with lots of water available. Nice day hike over the hill to Cirque lake-has potential for amazing waterfront camping (100 feet from water!).

backpacking
Thursday, September 08, 2016

the trails are well marked and maintained. It was very windy, which made it bad for fishing. I saw a bird of prey dive bomb a fish out of the south fork lake, awesome.

camping
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

What is the parking spot about 5 miles away from the bridge on the Little Kern? Anyone know? I have been to it twice but have forgotten.

hiking
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hiked up with my two daughters spent the night, what an awesome trail and view. My daughters were in awe of the views, will do this hike again for sure.

backpacking
Monday, July 11, 2016

Great Trail. Took New Army Trail to Cottonwood Lakes, make sure to check the weather going up there, the wind can get pretty crazy.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Good steady accent after nice relatively flat hike through the Meadow. The lake was real nice reward after the hike over Cottonwood Pass.

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