Women’s Intermediate Backpacking

For this program we have upped the level a little bit and think of it as “Stepping out a bit further”. We include longer distances each day and also a crossing of a Sierra Crest pass, taking us to the west side of the Sierra and then looping back to the east ending at our starting point. Our focus is on getting you skills and comfort with being in the mountains, allowing you to get out by yourself or to be confident joining a longer trip such as the JMT. This is an intermediate backpacking trip and a fun adventure with a group of women who are looking to get out and push themselves a little bit further but in a warm, welcoming and supportive atmosphere.

For three days and two nights we will hike up from forest to the high alpine, carrying what we need and seeing beautiful mountains, forests and alpine lakes. A lot of people find that it is hard to get time off work to get to the mountains but driving to the Eastern Sierra and back in a weekend just makes everything too rushed and ruins the goal of getting away and relaxing in the mountains. Take an extra day off work and have time to enjoy the peace of the mountains and their beauty and recharge your soul.

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Day 1

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.

Day 2

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 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.

Day 3

We rise early for the last part of the trip and hit the trail back over Cottonwood Pass to the trailhead. We plan to get back there early afternoon giving you time to reluctantly head home, happy and fulfilled.

Distances and Elevations

Day 1 – Trailhead to Cottonwood Lakes: 5.5 miles, 1300 feet of gain, 300 feet of down

Day 2 – Cottonwood Lakes to un-named lake: 7.1 miles, 1900 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


Program Prerequisites:

Good hiking shape, good physical condition and able to carry a pack with three days of equipment. Prior day and/or overnight hiking experience is preferable but not absolutely necessary. We will be working with you to expand your skills and knowledge.

Program Inclusions:

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)

  1. Details, Itinerary and Equipment List

    Check out our Women on the Trail information sheet for more information on being in the wilderness as a woman.

  2. SMC Cancellation Policy
  3. Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
  4. Tips on physical training for your trip
  5. LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environment.

PDF Maps:

Women's Intermediate Backpacking Map

Rental Equipment:

Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.