Cottonwood Pass / New Army Pass Loop

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Golden Trout Wilderness

Cottonwood Pass / New Army Pass Loop is a 23.5 mile moderately trafficked loop 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 April until September.

Length23.5 miElevation gain3,727 ftRoute typeLoop
BackpackingCampingHikingNature tripsWalkingBird watchingForestLakeViewsWildlifeNo dogs
Description
Waypoints (26)

The Cottonwood Lakes trail passes through Sequoia National Park and only service animals are allowed there, no pets. Horseshoe Meadow has two major trailheads (Cottonwood Lakes and Cottonwood Pass) providing access to areas such as the Golden Trout Wilderness, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, and the John Muir Wilderness. Numerous hiking adventures are possible.

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Reviews (36)
Photos (1,200)
Activities (27)
Completed (76)
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Polemonium eximium
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Hiking

FYI No Dogs on this loop as it goes through Sequoia National Park. See the Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP Minimum Impact Requirements below: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/pets.htm https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/NoYear-MIR-5-14-20.pdf

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Matt Vigilante
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BackpackingGreat!

Great first backpacking trip! Started from horse shoe meadows and went counter clockwise on da loop. First night made it to Chicken Lake. Absolutely no fish but super rad setting and very chill. Second day decided to skip Soldier Lake and go over Old Army Pass. A bit sketchy coming down the switchbacks and should’ve went New Army Pass. Definitely was a stretch when we finally got to the lakes. Get some rest and lots of water for that climb. Caught a beautiful Rainbow and made the struggle well worth it. Camped at Lake 2 and enjoyed a rad sunset on the lakes. Third day we made our way back and was a nice downhill voyage home. Definitely coming back. Smoke was bad.

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Pierre LaBelle
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BackpackingGreat!

First time I ever attempted to hike a loop on a multi night backpacking trip! Highly recommended for anyone looking to make their first attempt at a longer distance backpacking trip. I went counterclockwise and was glad to have the climb over New Army Pass at the beginning of the 2nd day. Being that it’s September, the snow was completely gone but the water was still plentiful. Perfect weather except for the smoke that showed up halfway through the trip.

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Megan Kagiyama
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Hiking

First time doing this loop with my boyfriend (7/21-7/24) and we thought it was great! We don’t backpack too often so it was a nice challenge for us. Started at Cottonwood trail pass and camped there for one night to acclimate. Hiked to Chicken Spring Lake and camped there the first night, stayed at Soldier Lake via Siberian Pass trail the second night, and started early at 8am to tackle New Army Pass and hiked all the way up to Cottonwood Lake #5. Last day was an easy, mostly downhill trek back to the Cottonwood Pass Trail camp. I would definitely recommend lots of sunscreen and sun clothing that provides good coverage. Definitely start early if you plan to go from Soldier Lake to Cottonwood Lakes because those switchbacks (both going up and down the pass) are brutal! Treated our clothes to help with mosquitos, but there didn’t seem to be any in the first place. Would definitely go again, have fun!

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Michailo Tulek
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BackpackingBugsGreat!

I loved this hike. My first backpacking trip in the Sierras and I found it all enchanting, almost as good as Greenland!! That's saying something. Things to note: 1) As of the date I went (July 14th) the parking lot was open. 2) New Army Pass is no joke. If not planned for, this section of the hike could become problematic. It's a tough section with very steep gain in elevation. My hiking partner and I took a break for a few hours at Soldier lake before we did it. Glad we did. Also, do not go up the pass if there is a storm present. Extremely exposed. 3) Lastly, there is no camping at High Lake (a posted sign there says so). But there is established camping at Long Lake (not posted on maps).

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Dayna Mauer
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Hiking

I did the loop clockwise as well. Completed 07/01-07/02 2020. Weather was perfect, in the 60s air was pleasantly cool while hiking. Perfect blue Sierra summer skies. Intermittent patches of sandy soil which may seem to be a slog on the way up Cottonwood Pass. This has to be the easiest pass to cross; it offers a great view of Horseshoe Meadow. Beautiful Foxtail Pines everywhere. The two small lakes on the Nat Geo map on the PCT between Chicken Spring Lake and the Siberian Pass Trail aren’t there- at least the southern one isn’t, which is easily seen from the trail. It is turning into meadow. Looks like there is a creek running through it. Water can be found at a spring on the western ‘bump’ of the jog north around said lake/meadow. Trail is easy until the climb up New Army Pass, which seemed way longer than 2.3 miles. Small patch of hard-packed snow is still there on the Cottonwood side. It is easily navigated around, just requires some care and rock scrambling. Very exposed all the way down until Long Lake. On the Sequoia NP side there is very little cover as well. I started at 6a so also was hiking directly into the rising sun. Luckily I made it into the pass’s shadow so had a reprieve for my eyes for a bit. Thoroughly enjoyable; a lovely walk in some high elevation woods.

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David Vitale
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HikingSnow

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.

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Jordan Safty
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Backpacking

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!

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Colleen Cook
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Hiking

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

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Jake Whisenant
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Hiking

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.

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Jamie Thompson
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BackpackingGreat!
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Antonia Shtereva
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Backpacking

We hiked this trail july 29- august 1 in the opposite direction. First day was spent at long lake where a lot of people had camped to summit mt langley. Then over new army pass the second day and into rock creek. We camped at rock creek but we should have headed to soldier lake. Oh well. Last night we spend at chicken spring lake before we hiked out the short 4 miles out the last day over cottonwood pass. Not too many mosquitoes and no ice. Great hike! The fires did spoil our views in some parts. Lakes were beautiful.

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Mike Schneider
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Backpacking

Awesome scenery in this loop! We did a variant wherein were cut down to South Fork Lakes, otherwise the same. All the lakes are spectacular. Chicken Spring Lake was on my list to see and it didn’t disappoint. Lower Soldier Lake was also great. Tons of fish to catch at South Fork. There was still some snow blocking the trails at both Old and New Army Passes but nothing insurmountable. Good number of mosquitos and Lower Soldier but no surprise this time of year (late June) so we had nets and spray. Some marmots about but our food was only hassled by chipmunks. Nothing proper storage didn’t fix. Would do this again for sure!

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Jeff Clemes
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Backpacking

2 Miles did not get recorded. Hot day. Beautiful scenery.

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Jeff Clemes
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Backpacking

Actual hike was 10 miles. I forgot to restart the tracker for about 1 mile and serious incline

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Danny Smith
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Other than the gusty wind it’s a great trip. Fly fishing was tough windy but the Golden’s were there.

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Ash Ling
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First to Review

Did this in 2009 and it was great! Had a minor detour as we got to the farthest point of the loop where signage was scarce. Spent about an hour trying to find the trail through the middle of a bog.

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Roger Bayramian
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Hiking
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Michael Zimbalist
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Backpacking
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Kris Thatsme
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Hiking
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Kate Dillon
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Hiking
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Grant Hoag
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Hiking
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Jamey Dye
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Hiking
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Erin Pagaduan
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Hiking
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Lauren Ellis
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Hiking
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Philip Fossen
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Hiking
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Jason Stewart
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Hiking
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Philip Fossen
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Hiking
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Philip Fossen
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Hiking
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