Timberline Trails Logo Hiking the Cottonwood Lakes Trail

Mt Langley is located in the US state of California and is part of the southern section of the Sierra Nevada. Getting there is similar to getting to Mt Whitney. Take US highway 395 to Lone Pine, CA and head west on the Whitney Portal Road. As you travel along the access road, be on the lookout in a few miles (3.1) for Horseshoe Meadows Road on the left.

Follow Horseshoe Meadows Road to the Cottonwood Lakes/Army Pass Trailhead. Make sure you turn right at the sign indicating Cottonwood Lakes or you may end up at the Trailhead for cottonwood pass and be on your way to Cirque Peak. I have heard of people doing this, and actually climbing the wrong mountain. The road to Cottonwood Lakes is quite spectacular, but steep. It takes you just above 10,000 feet above sea level. The views down into the Owens Valley will take your breath away. But keep your eyes on the road for a miscalculation with your vehicle would cost you dearly.

Permits are required for overnight stays on Mt Langley. For permit information go to the John Muir Wilderness section, and then look for Cottonwood Lakes trailhead by Clicking Here. Under looking for, use "Overnight" (unless you plan on doing it as a day hike in which case you do not need a permit), then choose "Cottonwood Lakes" (JM39) in the drop down box under Trail. Then select your entry date for your trip.

View into Owens Valley from Horseshoe Meadows RoadIn the photo to the left above shows a view from high up on the Horseshoe Meadows Road. Looking to the southeast, as shown here, you can see a good size portion of the Owens Valley, and the Panamint Range (that runs for 100 miles from north to south) far off in the distance.

Horseshoe Meadows Road takes you from an elevation of 3,700 feet in the little town of Lone Pine to 10,000 feet at the Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead. Make sure your vehicle is up to the job of climbing to the top of this steep road, and that your brakes are in top condition for the descent. The drop off in places along the road are incredible, so keep you eyes on the road and avoid distractions.

The Horseshoe Meadow Road is a super example of engineering. It was constructed for a proposed Disney ski area when the Wilderness Act of 1964 was passed. The proposed ski area ended up not being pursued, and the road that was left in place has been a real blessing for all of us who have and continue to use it to access this beautiful area of the Sierra Nevada. Another interesting point of interest along the Horseshoe Meadows Road is Walt's Point. It is near the top of the road, and it is a spectacular jump off point for those brave souls out there who love to Hang Glide. The Hang Glider's usually congregate in the morning (when air currents are rising up the Sierra slopes) and take off for a spectacular flight into the Owens Valley. If you take the time to get out of your car at Walt's Point, you will see a memorial plaque that is dedicated to the man who lost his life in a bulldozer accident while building the road.

Information Cottonwood Lakes Signs Cottonwood lakes on Mt Langley are a great place to fish. But you need to be aware of the rules. To the right, Above, you see some of the restrictions that are enforce.

Fishing Regulations are as follows:
Cottonwood Lakes 1, 2, 3, 4 and all their tributaries is a catch and release, Fish only with artificial lures or flies with a single barb-less hook. Season is from July 1st through November 15th.

For all other lakes in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin and all their tributaries, you must use only artificial lures and flies with a single barb-less hook. Limit is 5 fish per day. Season is from July 1st through November 15th. If you have any other questions on this subject, it would be best to call the Lone Pine Ranger Station at: 760-876-6200.

Breakfast at a local Cafe in Lone PineThe town of Lone Pine California is located at the base of both Mt Langley and Mt Whitney. If you have the time you will find it very worthwhile to explore the town a bit. Try and have at least one of your meals at a local eatery and get to know some of the people who work and live there. Mt Whitney and Mt Langley are extremely popular mountains for climbers, hikers, and backpackers, and many of the locals can offer unique information and stories that will add to your experience.

In the image to the left, you see some of our party at the Whitney Cafe down in Lone Pine. Note all the pictures on the wall. Many establishments have signed photos of famous movie stars from the heyday of westerns that were filmed in this area in the 1930's - 1960's.

Also located in Lone Pine, is a Movie Museum that displays many of the props and other items of interest from films that were shot in the Alabama Hills located in the shadow of Mt Whitney. Countless old Westerns along with several of our modern day movies were shot below the beautiful backdrop of Mt Whitney. They say that over 400 movies were shot in the above mentioned area. In any case, the Movie Museum in Lone Pine is well worth visiting.

Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead Parking LotSean (left) and Kurt just getting up from a night in the back of my pickup, ready for the first day on Mt Langley. The Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead sits at 10,000 feet, at it is a great place to spend a little time at, so you can begin to get acclimated for your climb up 14,042 foot Mt Langley. We most often make the effort to camp at trailheads if they are located at an elevation above 7 or 8 thousand feet for this purpose.

Altitude Sickness has a way of turning an otherwise enjoyable adventure into misery, thus, it is important to know your limits so that you can gain elevation at a pace that enables you to adjust comfortably to the pressure changes that go along with the high altitude.

Well, that's about it for Getting Started on Mt Langley. So whether you plan on going to the top of Mt Langley, backpacking into the beautiful Cottonwood Lakes area, just doing a day hike, or just hanging out in Lone Pine and the surrounding areas, this area of the Southern Sierra Nevada has something to offer everyone. For more on this beautiful area of the Sierra, click on the link below and go back to the top of this page and check out some of the other links for more adventures on Mt Langley.

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