If you and your cuddly canine companion are looking for a good hike in the Inyo County area of California, the Golden Trout Wilderness Trails are furrific places to explore. The park is named after the state fish, the Golden Trout, which is a protected species in this area. There are four trailheads where you and your pup can start your expedition, which include the Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass, Olancha Pass, and the Black Rock Trailhead.
The Cottonwood Pass Trail is about nine miles and starts on Horseshoe Meadow Road. This is a moderately difficult hike, and the elevation gain is approximately 1500 feet. Starting out on the Cottonwood Pass Trail, the views of the High Sierra Mountains are epic. This is a well-maintained trail with a gradual incline on a sandy trail that gets progressively steeper as you go. When you get to the ridge, about four miles in, you and Fido will have a pawesome view of the Big Whitney and Horseshoe Meadows.
Keep following Cottonwood Pass Trail until you get to the creek crossing and merge right where you will find the Chicken Spring Lake and another gorgeous view, this time of Cirque Peak. You can continue on the Cottonwood Pass Trail to go to the Big Whitney Meadow if you want to add another eight miles to your trip, but you better have some provisions like extra water and snacks for both you and your doggo.
The Cottonwood Pass Trail will also take you to the Olancha Pass Trail for another 10 miles, where you and your pooch can hike up Olancha Peak if you are up for it. It is about another 1500 feet above sea level. Water is available at the Summit Meadows nearby, and you can also take one of the many branches of trails along the way to visit other areas of the Golden Trout Wilderness area trails.
There are so many small trails and paths that you can take from any of these passes to see different sections of the wilderness area, but you will definitely need a map. You can get one on the website or at the Golden Trout Wilderness Park visitor’s office. Altogether, the park has several hundred miles of trails, 117 miles of streams, two sections of the Kern River, and several creeks and lakes. You and your pupster will have to come back many times to be able to explore it all, and it is definitely worth it.