Explore the most popular dog friendly 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.

beautiful in the spring

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.

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.

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.

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.

hiking
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Good trail easy hike in from Lewis trailhead nice climb out.

hiking
Sunday, September 27, 2015

Difficulty 4/5

I went in June of 2014. The lake was beautiful and worth the ascent. Be prepared for many tiring switch-backs.

Thr hike took me seven hours.

Well worn trail. Like walking in sand from all the horse traffic. We took a wrong trail and the 5 mile in turned into a 15 mile in!! My own fault. The way back from the little kern is all uphill!!!

hiking
Thursday, April 16, 2015

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.

hiking
Friday, November 28, 2014

Started the hike from Crescent Meadow in Sequoia and hiked out through Cottonwood campground. Great hike!!!

hiking
Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Did this hike in the middle of September as part of my acclimation program for a Whitney day hike. A couple miles of strolling through the forest leads to the start of a steady climb to Cottonwood Pass. Being I was just using it as a warmup, it was nice to start late and to enjoy the gradual climb out of Horseshoe Meadows. There was nobody at the lake when I arrived just before noon which made it extremely pleasant to just sit, watch, and listen.

Minimal elev. gain and big rewards on views and tranquility make this a great option for any level of hiker.

Easy navigation - well marked at the trailhead, and a very well maintained trail. At the top there is plenty of parking, a horse area & a campground. There are two small picturesque meadows on the descent and most of the trail is shaded by trees. The burned trees from a large fire are predominantly below at the Jordan Hot Springs area another several miles past Casa Vieja. The meadow itself has a very neat meandering stream that the trail crosses at the lower end of the meadow. Good day hike or easy pack hike for novice/younger hikers. The stream is full of small golden trout which while fun to fish for are not for keeping! Handle with care...

hiking
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Went in November. 4-stars for difficulty.

Drove solo from LA. Over-nighted at the walk-in camp at Horseshoe Meadows. Water was already turned off for winter. Must bring your own wood for fires. Stepped off next morning. Moody weather. Highs in the upper 60's, lows in the teens. Able to filter water, but creeks were frozen. Easy enough to break through the ice.

Cottonwood Pass kicked my ass with winter gear weight + bear canister. Camped 2nd night below the pass. Next morning crested. Simply beautiful. Continued on section of PCT. At the creek crossing, you'll see foot prints heading right, off the trail. That takes you to Chicken Spring.

No fires above 10,400 ft. Chicken Spring Lake is at 11,242. There's a huge fire pit set up. Let your conscience dictate. Beautiful spot. Had it all to myself.

hiking
Friday, November 08, 2013

The 1st mile was like walking in the park. After that it was all up hill. Crazy switchback. Well worth it though. Beautiful spot for over night. Bad thing was the lake is right i the middle of military flight path so it can be noisy. The lake is dead though. There are no fish. So don't plan on catching any.

hiking
Thursday, September 19, 2013

Great trail and camping at Casa Vieja Meadow for kids. Small size trout in meadow creek.

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!

hiking
Monday, June 04, 2012

Great day hike. Still a patch of snow over Cottonwood pass.

hiking
Thursday, April 05, 2012

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.

hiking
Friday, February 10, 2012

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.

hiking
Sunday, September 25, 2011

this hike is awsome in the early summer when the meadow is real green and its a fun family hike and its down hill when you start out and its like that all the way to the meadow but hiking back out is up hill.

Trail in good condition. Used by hikers and horses. Easy downhill hike to meadow; moderate uphill hike out. Casa Vieja is a beautiful big green meadow! Smaller meadows along trail. Trail and meadow very boggy in parts in Spring after snowmelt. Wildflowers. Ample parking and stabling for horses at trailhead.

5 days ago

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