5/23/2020 Couldn’t complete soldier lake to long lake, too much snow going down from the ridge to long lake. Had to turn around. Looks like an amazing trail otherwise, but I don’t see this being accessible until more snow melts.

Hi Jessica, thanks for posting the review. I am hoping to take my 11 year old daughter dayhiking there in the next couple of weeks. Do you know if Lubken Canyon Road is open from 395? Thanks for your help!

Great trail! A little bit of snow right now (mid shin at most) and slightly icy but nothing that couldn’t be navigated with regular gear. I didn’t use any spikes. Some spots were muddy as well. No bugs at all and was able to wear a tank for a lot of the hike. Definitely bring layers. All restrooms and trash bins locked and water spickets not working. Suggest 3 liters of water.

This trail is great, if you like hiking up hills to false summits over and over again! Lol

off trail
6 months ago

Did this in August and overall great trail, made it all the way to the Kern River. I definitely recommend taking this path and going around because taking the “shorter” path over the mountain took longer, added at least 1200ft in elevation, and then just disappeared at the peak; the views are really something though. Definitely took the round route on the way back. At time time of year always have a bear horn with you, we had to warn one off that was sniffing around the tent and saw several throughout the hike. Dog enjoyed it as well.

Did this hike on October 20, 2019. Very beautiful and peaceful hike. However, it can get confusing in the beginning with the trail going through so many camping grounds and not being marked.

Doing this trail to aclimate for Mount Whitney. Third time on this trail and love it. Can’t wait to camp at chicken spring lake one day soon.

A great warm up for Whitney in order to acclimatize. Great view on the drive to the trail as well. Saw some cows and some deer.

We (a group of 4) hiked from the Forks of the Kern Trailhead all the way to Painters camp in early October. The trail, while well traveled, was not very well maintained. There were many fallen trees across the trail that had been there so long that the trail has formed around them. We made it about 7.5 miles in on the first day and there were plenty of potential camp sites. I don't know if it is always as crowed as we experienced but we had to go to the fourth suitable camp area to find one that was not occupied. There are many sites with a fire pit left from previous backpackers. Our first night was when the adventure really started. The cold weather started coming in right after sunset and eventually dropped all the way to 18 degrees. Our group is fairly new to backpacking and 18 degrees was cold. We all had the proper gear and really enjoyed a little challenge. The next day we packed light leaving our camp intact and headed out to Painters Camp. The bridge was about half way (3 miles) and a good spot to take a breath and evaluate if we really wanted to go the full way (6 miles). We decided we did and continued on. The trail after the bridge got a lot less defined and we lost it many times. Right before reaching Painters camp there is a creek and there is no established crossing point at Nine Mile Creek, so it was a bit of a challenge to get across. We all felt Painters Camp was worth the trek and we even braved the cold water for a dip in the Kern while there. TALK ABOUT COLD!!! The hike back to our base camp was fairly uneventful. While we saw little wild life on the entire hike we did see two large bear scats but no other signs of the bear themselves. On multiple occasions the peace a quite was shattered by fighter jets training through the canyons. I think there were 5 fly overs in total, I could imagine that some might not like it but the four of us viewed it as a highlight. It was brief but very exhilarating! The hike out back to the trailhead was tough. No way to sugarcoat it. The last two miles is 1000 ft straight out. All in all we had a great time. We were a little surprised at the number of people we encountered and the way the trail was maintained (or not maintained for that matter) so I took one star off. I would recommend the trail, the area is beautiful.

Hiked on Sept, 28-29th. Caught in the first cold front of the season made this trail a challenge. dense fog, rain, hail, high winds and temps from mid teen nights to low 30 afternoons. From start to finish it's a constant change in scenery and surroundings with the rise and fall of elevation. 4000ft gross gain is accurate but according to my buddies pedometer we did 30mi out and back from the 2nd lake which felt very accurate by time we got back to the trail head. in warmer weather I'd carry more water but on this trip a 32oz water was enough to get through to a stream to fill back up at. a couple long uphill stretches take the biggest toll on you but for the most part it's pretty easy going between these parts. Definitely going back to do this one again but not till next season.

One of my favorite trails. Begins at a little higher altitude than most and has only a little altitude gain to the Cottonwood Lakes basin. The basin is beautiful. Hiked in for an overnight trip on 9/20 under clear crystal blue skies. Highs in mid 50’s and lows to high 20’s with no wind. Very comfortable. More people than I expected for late in the season. Lakes 4 & 5 had as many as 30 people on Saturday. Lakes were full and streams were moving well following a good snow year. Cool so no mosquitoes this time of years. Mid summer usually has a lot of mosquitoes. Hiked time in was about 3.5 hours. Hike out was a few minutes over 2 hours, half of it in the dark. Good trail for anyone. Highly suggest taking one day/night to acclimate before hitting the trail. It’s deceiving when you start at 10k after driving up from much lower elevations. I usually stay one night at Whitney Portal and hit the trail the next day without a problem. Highly recommended. Beautiful country.

Yes I recommend this for either day hike or overnight. I overnighted there on 9/21/19. About a 5 mile hike in and out via cottonwood pass. Easy hike. Lots of sand the first 1.5 miles. Then switchbacks for 3 miles. Last .5 mile easy walk to the lake. Not a lot of people and the other 6 that were there were through hiking to PCT and on to Whitney. Plenty of spots for a tent. Easy trail to follow.

8 months ago

Difficulty: 5-7.5 easy to intermediate ~30 lb pack) Duration: ~6 hours (1:30 pm start 3.5 hr up, 2.5 hr down) Distance: ~10 miles Parking: trailhead parking, no permit required, clean bathroom Views: 8 out of 10 Incline: pretty flat for first ~1.5 miles, steady intermediate (500 ft/mile) for ~2 miles, easy uphill around upper valley to lake. Technical: sandy wide track first ~1.5 miles, sandy dirt single track, some rocky parts and steps, some sandy spots, couple water crossings but stepping stones Equipment: Merrill mesh waterproof boots, mountain hardware white long sleeve shirt, north face pants, ~30 lb pack Weather: 70 at the parking lot, 30s at night, windy/gusty all night and morning (was forecast) Shade: much of the route, less on the switchbacks and very little at the lake. Environment: forest vegetation, beautiful pine trees, granite mountains, meadows, beautiful lake Wildlife: birds, squirrels, chipmunks, cows in the meadow Bugs: none (could be different other seasons) Details: take the 20 mile road out of Lone Pine, up switchbacks to campground/ parking. Take trail from parking lot up ~1.5 miles to switchbacks then up 2 steep miles to upper valley, go right around valley to the lake. Several camp sites. Our phones recorded ~5 miles one way. TIPs: it was in the 30s overnight so make sure you bring the right gear. We brought two north face sleeping bags each and were toasty all night. Was a pretty cold wind chill in the morning when we left. PROS: good workout second half. Beautiful scenery CONS: a bit of horse apples on the trail Scott H (aka Swiper)

Honestly not that great - without doing langley, i'd say the first 5 miles are very boring and not worth it!

Just did the first couple miles to see how I was feeling at a higher elevation as prep for Whitney. Felt good and met lots of friendly hikers along the way.

Beautiful lake great campsites next time im taking a horse

8/31/19 What a wonderful backpacking trip this was. The trail is absolutely gorgeous the entire way! The trail is very well-maintained. Though there were several downed trees, there was always an easy path around them. There were plenty of wildflowers, lush green Meadows, and a whole bunch of butterflies. There really weren’t that many places to get water late in the summer. But 2 L of water should be able to get you to the farthest stream. When we went, we lucked out and there weren’t that many mosquitoes or gnats. But you definitely want to find out before you go, because they can be horrendous from what the reviews have said. This hike is pretty strenuous because it has a lot of ups and downs. The net gain in elevation from trailhead to highest point on the trail was only about 1000, though the gross gain was 4100 ft. That should tell you that the return trip is not simply a downhill hike. As many of the reviews have said, the fish in the first lake are extremely hungry. I had a nibble my very first cast! In fact, I brought in two rainbow trout in seven casts, and I fried them in olive oil for dinner. They will bite at anything. I was using spinners, Kastmasters, and spoons. It might be a good idea to pinch or file away the barbs on your hooks, especially if you have treble hooks, since you will be catching so many. I switched to a single.hook spoon in the morning before we left since I knew I was going to release them all. For anyone curious about the drive to the trail head, about 10 to 15 miles of the drive is going to be on a dirt road. You do not need a 4 x 4 when it’s dry, but it’s advisable to have at least a crossover’s ground clearance. A sedan may be able to make it if lines are chosen carefully.

Such an amazing hike, when we went there were very little bugs and the weather was fantastic, a small rain shower one night but it cleared up by morning. If you're a beginner I would think twice before doing this hike and make sure to pack efficiently! the elevation gain is pretty high, especially on the way to the lakes. We were able to drive out to the trail head in a sedan just be careful, the last quarter mile of the dirt road is a bit tricky.

off trail
9 months ago

The route was Horseshoe Meadow over trail pass to Tunnel Meadows night 1, explored Golden Trout Creek, Volcano Meadow and falls, natural bridge, and dropped into the Kern Valley to stay at Soda Spring night 2. Day three, Kern Lakes, stayed at Trout Meadow. Day four, Kern Flat and exited at Forks of the Kern. If you can arrange to park one vehicle at the Forks of the Kern trailhead and leave from Horseshoe Meadow, this is a fantastic through hike, especially for fly fishing, especially late Summer when the main stem of the Kern flow is lower. The trail is well marked, has several alternative options, even in the more remote areas and the area very easy to navigate via waypoints if you want to do some off trail exploring.

Awesome hike. Clockwise from cottonwood path. Day 1: Got a late start and ended up tracking 11.5 miles and setting up camp at lower soldier lake. Chicken spring lake and lower soldier lake did not disappoint. Day 2: set out early for new army pass(solid elevation gain for 3 miles) to reach the peak of ~12350 ft. Very rewarding views from the top. Hike back to car was all slightly down hill and included nice views of the cottonwood lakes. Arrived at car ~25 total miles. Tips: Despite what the description says, part of the trail is NOT dog friendly. Bring a lot of mosquito repellent. Bear box available .2 miles from solider lake, however, bear canisters are still required. A lot of flowing streams to refill water throughout the hike. Overall highly recommend!

Great hike today. The trail is clear and easy to follow. There is regular shade and pretty views.

Great loop trail. Amazing views for minimal elevation gain. Lots of water on the trail and trail is good quality. Bring mosquito proof clothes for the evening, and a fishing rod.

Did the whole out and back with a 27lb pack in about 6hrs. Lake is beautiful and well kept! Definitely coming back for some trail running!

Great hike wildflowers everywhere.

Hiked from the Summit Trailhead at the end of Forest Service road 21S50. The road was a little rough but doable in most cars if careful. The trail started nicely with a couple of small trees across the trail at the begging but nothing major. Jacobsen and Mowery meadow was very green and had water flowing so good and easy places to get water if needed. After Griswold meadow trail goes through a large area of downed trees and the trail get a little hard to find, luckily there are rock stacks to help you along the way. Trail gets a little better as you head down towards Pecks Canyon and there is a creek right before the junction with Pecks Canyon trail(i think that's what that's called but heads to Pecks Cabin.) The trail once again gets difficult to find here. There are some rock stacks but I think due to the fallen trees some seems misleading. But once you start heading up towards the lake it clears again. Great looking campsites right off the lake. Only visited Lower Maggie but seemed like water was flowing out of lower pretty good so they are probably full. All in all a beautiful hike.

Just completed this loop with a Mt Langley summit added on. Beautiful, no wind, sunny perfect conditions. Typical fear-mongering surrounding New/Old Army passes but as usual we found them to be not a problem at all with little snow travel required. Always use your own judgement and don’t buy into the fear mongering, especially coming from the visitor center/permit pickup in Lone Pine.

over grown
10 months ago

The hike in to get to the trial was very difficult but doable. Ended up having to cross the little kern and getting wet but it was blazing out so it was a welcomed obstacle. Went on a Monday and only saw two other campers. Fishing was not for the faint of heart as the terrain was difficult to maneuver through in order to fish the best spots. Would also only recommend using Fly rods for this area since the foliage was thick and hard to place a lure with a spinning rod in the perfect spot. Trail earns its rating as a hard for serious backpackers but was super rewarding once complete.

Amazing hike. No shade by the lake.

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