Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop

HARD 6 reviews
#29 of 61 trails in

Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop is a 31.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Teakettle Junction, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
31.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5613 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wildlife

scramble

washed out

no dogs

hiking
6 hours ago

backpacking
12 days ago

There is water at Cottonwood Springs and Deadhorse Canyon as of Thanksgiving weekend 2017. 4x4 is a must if you're going to start from the junction. I was in a Prius and our car made it to the 2WD parking lot 8 miles in on Cottonwood Marble Road. But it was bumpy and kind of scary. Do not attempt to drive beyond the parking area if you do not have an off-road vehicle. I was tracking our miles on my Garmin and having to hike the extra miles from the parking lot and missing some turns got us to 35 miles for this trip. It's stunning, a real adventure, but really for those with experience. Should not be attempted by newbies. We did it in 2.5 days and we never saw anyone else. I used the topo map on this app as well as following the NPS map and printed info. We also followed wild horse tracks when things got confusing and I found them to be reliable. The section from the second saddle to Deadhorse Canyon is as tricky as everyone says it is. You'll see the Canyon below but you don't see how to get down there. There is basically a steep gully you're supposed to go down. We ended up heading on a ridge instead and I kept wondering how we were supposed to get down there. Once I realized we missed the turn into the gully, we descended down the side of a mountain and slid all the way down to reach the gully (do not try this at home!). This is to say, be meticulous in looking for the second saddle/gully turn. I personally found the 8ft dryfall to be difficult to climb down but my bf scrambled halfway and just jumped. Then I threw our gear down for him to catch it. Climb on the left side of the fall, which has more handholds. There is also a turn we missed near the rock choke after the marble slots. But the trail heads up to the left before the choke. Look for cairns. Because daylight is scarce this time of year, we got up at 4am each day to start. We parked at the 2WD parking on the first night and hiked a little past the junction to setup camp for the night. We started at the junction going clockwise on the first day and ended for the day at North Valley. Second day we went from North Valley back to the 2WD parking. We carried 5L of water for each day and I found that to be enough, we refilled at Cottonwood Springs. Highly recommend it for the solitude and experience. Just do your research.

hiking
16 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

backpacking
7 months ago

Backpacked this trail in two days (Feb. 24, 2017-Feb. 25, 2017) starting on the Cottonwood side and ending on the Marble Canyon side. I parked in the 2WD parking area and though my 2WD probably could have made it, it only added two miles one way to the trip.

On the first day I made it to the end of the jeep road by about 1:00 PM so I decided to continue on to Cottonwood Spring. Made it to the spring by about 5:00 PM which was perfect. There is plenty of space to camp out near this spring.

On day two, I tracked up the canyon, over the two saddles, and down into marble canyon. That traverse from the first saddle, to the second is not difficult but you must pay attention. I had the GPS way points programmed and I'm glad I did. Second day was by far the most stunning hike. The view of Marble Canyon from the top was incredible. Highly recommended.

All three springs were active when I was there, granted they had a huge rain storm the week before. First cottonwood spring and dead horse spring were only mildly active but the main cottonwood spring was very active (pictured). Beautiful, clean, cool water.

Great trip. If you want to take it very easy and get some side hikes in, three days is very doable. If you're looking to do it in two days, also very doable.

hiking
9 months ago

Did just a portion of this loop (Marble Canyon to the Petroglyphs). Excellent day hike. The total length can be shortened considerably if you continue driving along the road. 4WD is advised, but not required. Having never been here, I chose to park at the end of the 2WD road, which lengthened the overall trip to 13 miles. Still worth it. The hike itself is awesome and the petroglyphs are really cool. Keep a sharp eye out. They are hard to spot. I walked right by them the first time because someone had told me "you can't miss 'em."