Cottonwood Lakes Trail

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
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.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
20.3 km
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.
433 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

The Cottonwood Lakes Trail is an excellent route within Inyo National Forest. Primarily used as an overnight backpacking route, the trail can be completed in a day as long as you are willing to travel a fair distance. The route is also considered to be an excellent location to view wildlife.

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Route Description for Cottonwood Lakes Trail

The Cottonwood Lakes Trail is long and possesses a fair amount of elevation incline. Rated as moderate, it is likely not appropriate for young children and those seeking a more casual hiking experience. We recommend wearing lots of sunscreen and a good hat to help protect you from the effects of the powerful alpine sun.

With your vehicle parked at Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead Campground, follow Cottonwood Lakes Trail as it makes its way northwest across steadily inclining terrain. The pathway will continue on its northwestern heading, travelling adjacent to some craggy terrain to its west. After crossing a creek, you will arrive at a junction within the trail. At the junction, continue on along the Cottonwood Lakes Trail, and continue to do so at the next three junctions.

At the fourth junction, take the New Army Pass Trail as it makes its way west adjacent to Cottonwood Creek. Keep along the New Army Pass Trail as it passes alongside both Cottonwood Lakes, and then circumnavigates Long Lake. Having completed your circumnavigation of Long Lake, simply backtrack your steps towards the trailhead.

Getting to the Cottonwood Lakes Trail Trailhead

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

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Cottonwood Lakes Trail Campground

  • When to do


  • Pets allowed


  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type


Cottonwood Lakes Trail Elevation Graph

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Cottonwood Lakes Trail Reviews

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