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Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop

HARD 61 reviews
#19 of 79 trails in

Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop is a 31.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Death Valley, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 31.8 miles Elevation Gain: 5,613 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

washed out

no shade

no dogs

As of April 2019, road is open and upper trailhead parking lot is still accessible by 2 wheel drive vehicles. Please contact the park for more information.

hiking
2 days ago

We drove the trail, because we didn’t know where to stop till the sign “No Motor Vehicles Past this Point”. We camped there. Hiked till the bolder that blocked the path and turned back. The next morning, we found around around it, we went about 1 mile further. Had a great time. Do it. You’ll enjoy it.

backpacking
no shade
1 month ago

backpacking
blowdown
bugs
muddy
no shade
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
washed out
4 months ago

backpacking
no shade
5 months ago

We just came off this trail two days ago and I would not recommend this trail at this time. There are three water sources at this time... Two of the within a mile of each other. Based on recommendations we walked counter clockwise with the anticipation that there would be more water after the beginning of Cottonwood Canyon. There is no water for the last 12 miles and temperatures reached 102ish despite forecast of highs of 86. We discovered the hard way that conditions change rapidly!

backpacking
5 months ago

I did this trail 2 years ago in May. We probably went the last possible weekend anyone should go. There was not anyone else on the trail and no rangers were present. It was 90-105 degrees the whole time. Bring plenty of water! We packed in at least 2.5 L for 2 of us. We found a small amount of water at the first camp sight and an actual stream at the second. We saw wild horses! The marble walls at the end were amazing. We did get a little lost a couple times. We cut across the wrong mountain at one point. I would highly recommend downloading the alltrails paid app for navigation as there is no signal for this whole hike. This was the best backpacking trip I’ve been on. It was challenging, but so worth it!

hiking
6 months ago

Hiked the trail counter-clockwise from 4/19/19 - 4/21/19, starting from upper parking lot. Road was easily accessed by 2WD SUV. Water was flowing from both springs, however the Deadhorse Canyon spring was not flowing as much, but still could be filtered. Beautiful weather and trail, only saw two other hikers on the entire trip. Amazing place, can't wait to go back.

backpacking
6 months ago

Hiked the loop clockwise in 3 days with a scout troop, camping near the end of Cottonwood Canyon Road and in Deadhorse Canyon. Good flow of water at both Cottonwood and Deadhorse Springs, as well as at least 1 mile downstream of each. No flowing water at the end of Cottonwood Canyon Road. Plenty of wildflowers in both canyons. Access road OK for high clearance 2WD up to the 'parking lot' before entering the wash. 4WD after that. We lost our way between Cottonwood Saddle and Deadhorse Canyon - failed to turn North somewhere near the end of the densely vegetated area in that canyon in between. With closeup topos, compass, and GPS we were able to dig ourselves out and cut across a few hills to reach Deadhorse Canyon.

hiking
6 months ago

Trail was great in the end however some points- you need a 4wd or high clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead. This was not clear. Also the rangers gave us no information re the springs. None of the rangers have even done the hike out of the four we spoke with. Definitely need a gps there are no trail markings. Download both the satellite and the Topo maps and follow closely, some areas are big open spaces and it is hard to follow the trail. There is one very steep section too. A large part of the cottonwood canyon part is actually a 4wd track and less exciting. Marble canyon is very special. We did counterclockwise and would definitely recommend this way. Both deadwood spring and cottonwood springs were running and fine. Best camp spots near cottonwood springs are on the cotton wood canyon side of the loop ie to eastern section. We did in 2 days. 3 days could be fun if you camp in deadhorse springs at the base of the big hill.

hiking
6 months ago

Walked clockwise with a family of 7. All springs had water flowing. Camped the first night at the end of cottonwood road. Day two took us to Deadhorse canyon, but we struggled to understand how to drop into the canyon from the saddle. Follow the trail right and around the knob. That makes it easy. Overall, a fun experience. This was the first backpack for three teenagers in our group, and it was a good learning experience. Observations: 1) There’s a lot of steep up and down as you work through the cottonwood creek area. It added a lot of effort to our day that we didn’t count on, but it is a beautiful area. 2) The walk up the valley after Cottonwood Creek is a long uphill slog without much to look at. 3). We used the Gaia GPS app for navigation and it made finding the two saddles easy. However, it erroneously directs you straight over the second one into Deadhorse Canyon. We saw no trail and it was incredibly steep. Ignore the app and take the trail going to the right across the Ridge and then circling around the knob.

6 months ago

Did counter clockwise, which made it much easier to follow the trail. The dry fall was an easy climb. All 3 springs had water through the one near the cottonwood canyon parking is fast drying up. Keep your eyes out for petroglyphs and horses.

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful in the spring. Varied desert terrain, mostly sandy afoot with many a scattered rock as one might expect in dry mountainous river beds. The dry banks are a slippery sedimentary rock / sand mix with only a few technical (hands on) moments. It is easy to get off trail in the wide open wash (don’t trust the foot steps in the sand). The lonely Cottonwood is a magic spot. The narrow marble run is the true gem. Take the sun seriously. Keep the place the place... Leave No Trace.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
6 months ago

We did this hike clockwise in 2 days. The springs were all running so water wasn’t an issue. Quite a bit of soft sand but incredibly beautiful. We also saw a small herd, 5 ea, of wild horses. Clockwise allows for gradual but steady elevation gains.

backpacking
6 months ago

Did the trail counter-clockwise in 2-days. All springs were running. Camped at the fork of Deadwood and Marble Canyons. Toughest parts were climbing up the dry fall (not so dry right now) and making our way through the cottonwood brambles at the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon. All very doable.

hiking
6 months ago

has anyone been recently and can comment on whether both springs are running?

hiking
rocky
6 months ago

We started from the marble/cottonwood junction and headed up marble at about 9am, lunch at the spring below Deadhorse canyon. After lunch we went up over the saddle and setup camp at cottonwood spring just in time for a beautiful sunset around 6:30pm. We slept in the next morning and explored the oasis before starting down the trail at noon we made it to the car by 6:30pm—2 days is definitely doable and not to much strain but three would give you more time( and energy!) to explore the side canyons.

backpacking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

hiking
closed
muddy
washed out
8 months ago

Traveled from Oregon to backpack this trail but the road is currently not in any condition to drive on per the rangers. It was flooding when we got there. Just a heads up for hikers wanting to access currently:-)

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