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Chicken Spring Lake via Cottonwood Pass Trail

MODERATE 83 reviews
#3 of 27 trails in

Chicken Spring Lake via Cottonwood Pass Trail is a 8.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lone Pine, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1,486 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

hiking
2 months ago

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.

backpacking
2 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)

hiking
3 months ago

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.

Amazing hike. No shade by the lake.

hiking
Thu Oct 04 2018

TLDR: Moderate climb to the pass. Everything else is fairly flat. Sandy trail surface for at 2/3 of the hike. Some rocks on the climb to the pass. Plenty of water in the lake. Nice easy hike to do for acclimation before knocking out Whitney or Langley. My GPS showed about 11200ft at the lakeside. I was surprised by the view at the top of the pass. I'm used to having to work my butt off to get that kind of view.

hiking
Sun Aug 19 2018

Epic High Sierra views on a moderate hike.

backpacking
Sat Aug 18 2018

Excellent trail for a first time backpacker with amazing views and a peaceful lake to top it all off. I highly recommend this hike, it's easy to get to the trailhead and the trail is well maintained throughout.

hiking
Wed Jul 04 2018

Great hike from beginning to end. There is the option to continue on toward cottonwood pass. Went on July 2, the weather was warm and sunny until an afternoon storm rolled in and rain and hail came dumping down for about 30 min. The trail is in great condition. Make sure you start at the right parking lot, if you don’t, it adds an extra mile or so to the hike. Most of the trail is a gradual, sandy, incline. At about 3 miles in, it ascends to the pass where you connect to the PCT. At that point, you’re almost there. Just continue on to the slight right turn to the lake which is a short walk from the PCT.

hiking
Sat Jun 02 2018

I hiked the Chicken Spring Lake Trail on Memorial Day weekend. The first few miles are gradual, but it gets progressively steeper till you reach Cottonwood Pass. There is a ridge a little further off which offers a beautiful view of Big Whitney Meadows. It started to snow on the way back, and getting back to Horseshoe Meadows was more difficult than it should have been.

hiking
Sun Aug 13 2017

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.

hiking
Sat Jun 24 2017

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.

hiking
Mon May 29 2017

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.

Thu Jun 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
Sun Sep 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.

hiking
Tue Oct 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.

hiking
Thu Nov 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
Fri Nov 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
Mon Jun 04 2012

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

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recorded Recording - Sep 25, 5:13 PM

hiking
2 months ago

recorded Recording - Sep 25, 5:13 PM

hiking
2 months ago

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