Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
4.5-6.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
19.0 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
489 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail is an incredible route within the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Bringing you alongside charming creeks, past beautiful lakes and throughout imposing mountains, the Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail is an excellent choice for your next hike within Inyo National Forest.

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Route Description for Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail

Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes is a fairly long route that possesses a notable amount of elevation incline throughout its duration. The trail is therefore likely not appropriate for children or those seeking a more casual hiking experience. Likewise, because the route is within the high alpine environment of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, it is important that you monitor yourself and your group members for the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Having parked your vehicle, follow the Cottonwood Lakes Trail as it heads west. After a few hundred feet, the trail will arrive at a junction. Continue on along the Cottonwood Lakes Trail by taking the western pathway. The route will begin to veer northwards before arriving at a second junction. At the second junction, continue on the Cottonwood Lakes Trail as it makes its way northwards alongside Cottonwood Creek.

With craggy terrain to your west, the route will continue to make its way adjacent to Cottonwood Creek as the creek itself veers westwards. The route will deliver you to a third junction, where you are to follow the western pathway onto New Army Pass Trail. The New Army Pass Trail will deverge southwards from Cottonwood creek, and arrive at another junction within the trail. Here, take the southern pathway onto Cirque Lake Trail and stay on the route through the upcoming junction as well. You will soon arrive at beautiful Cirque Lake, where you should take some time to rest and enjoy the views! Once you're ready, simply backtrack your steps towards the trailhead.

Getting to the Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail Trailhead

The trailhead for the Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail is located at the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead Campground.

Route Information

Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail Elevation Graph

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