For this program we have increased the challenge. We include longer distances each day and also a crossing of a Sierra Crest pass, taking us from the east side of the Sierra to the west side and then looping back to our starting point.
Our focus is still on getting you skills and comfort with being in the mountains. This trip is meant to build upon the skills that will allow you to get out by yourself and to be confident taking on a longer trip such as the JMT.
Return to Sierra Backpacking & Hiking
We meet at the end of the Cottonwood Road at the trailhead to Cottonwood Lakes. This is one of the highest trailheads in the Sierra Nevada at 10,000 feet. We will check gear and head out on the gradual climb to Cottonwood Lakes where we choose our campsite from the countless sandy sites adjacent to crystal clear blue lakes.
We head off early and over New Army Pass. This takes us to the high point of our trip at 12,300 feet and fantastic views out over the southern Sierra, far to the southern mountain ranges surrounding the Los Angeles Basin and out to the desert ranges of Nevada. We drop steadily back into the trees of upper Rock Creek drainage. We take lunch here and then head back along the PCT to a small unnamed lake and meadow above Big Whitney Meadows.
We rise early for the last part of the trip and hit the trail back over Cottonwood Pass to the trailhead, planning to get back there early afternoon giving you time to reluctantly head home, happy and fulfilled.
Distances and elevations
Day 1: Trailhead Cottonwood Lakes, 5.5 miles, 1300 feet of gain, 300 feet of down
Day 2: Cottonwood Lakes to un-named lake, 7.1 miles, 190 feet of gain, 1600 feet of down
Day 3: Un-named lake to Trailhead, 6.3 miles, 699 feet of gain, 2000 feet of down
Good hiking shape is the main prerequisite. Prior day hiking experience is preferable but not absolutely necessary. We will be working with you to expand your skills and knowledge. You will be traveling on trail with an overnight pack.
Price includes guiding, permits, tents, kitchen gear, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (you bring hot/cold drinks and snack items). Scheduled dates include USFS trail fees. Private programs do not.
Local accommodation is not included.
★ Please Read before you go ★
We feel the following information is essential... (links open as PDF in new window)
- Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List
- SMC Cancellation Policy
- Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
- Tips on physical training for your trip
- LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environment.
Backpacking II Long Weekend Map
Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.