From the parking lot trailhead, there is a steep decent down to the river. Approximate hiking time to the lakes is 5-6 hours. But beware, goldens can be quite picky, scrutinizing a dry fly like a clever spring creek brown trout. At an elevation of 11,200 feet, Cottonwood Pass serves as a gateway to the Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.The pass is reached via a 3.5-mile one way trail from Horseshoe Meadow, which has an elevation of 10,000 feet, making this is one of the easiest passes for hikers to reach in the Eastern Sierra. After a mile there is reliable water in the form of a creek. The trail arrives at Lake 1 to the northeast. Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe, 6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow, The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish, 10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About, 10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made, Work the Night Shift for After-Dark Crappies, Precision Slow-Motion Techniques for Reservoir Catfish. For now, the north eastern part of the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Inyo remains open, which keeps the Pacific Crest Trail and trails at Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass, and Cottonwood Lakes open as long as those itineraries avoid the closure areas on the Inyo and the Sequoia National Forest (as a rule itineraries heading north from these trails). We service the Golden Trout Wilderness, home of the beautiful Golden Trout, as well as trips to the Sequoia National Forest. And if all else fails, choose a smaller fly. Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Golden Trout Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you. #5 - Maggie Lakes via Summit Trail [CLOSED], #6 - Mount Langley Loop via Cottonwood Pass [CLOSED], #7 - John Muir Trail: Horseshoe Meadow to Happy Isles [CLOSED], #8 - Forks of the Kern Trail to Painters Camp [CLOSED]. Locate the trailhead. There are trails that shoot off from this loop that head to Muir Lake, South Fork Lake and New Army Pass. Every year, just a few days after arriving on campus, first-year students find themselves on the trail to Golden Trout. Kneeling on the flat boulder, rod tip held high overhead, I softly cradled my first golden trout in the frigid alpine waters. (Photo by Brad Trumbo) THE PURSUIT Be sure to place the fly far enough ahead of a cruising fish to avoid spooking it as the line touches down on the clear water. Instead, cut a 4-foot length of light fluorocarbon line as your leader. All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. If traveling to the Sierras from elevations below 6,000 feet, consider camping or lodging at about 8,000 feet for a couple days to acclimate to the environment before setting out for higher destinations. Our loop takes us deep into the wilderness to visit two of the most spectacular high alpine lake basins in the Southern Sierra: Cottonwood Lakes and Rocky Basin Lakes. Each rock threatens to jar the fillings out of ones teeth. A narrow fisherman’s path follows the Treasure Lakes drainage from the southern end of Long Lake, traversing a long boulder field as it climbs. Chap stick and sunscreen or long sleeves, pants and a large-brimmed hat are important as the sun’s rays are more intense in the alpine environment. Thirty minutes of channeling my inner mountain goat, teetering and hopping up, over and across jagged granite, I found myself perched 11,300 feet above sea level. Standard patterns like the Adams, Royal Wulff, Blue-winged Olive, and Caddis in sizes 16-18 reliably elicit strikes. The hike is relatively flat. Once you reach the river, there is a relatively easy forging. Tapered leaders carry buoyancy that floats the fly above the sinking line and reduces the fly’s action. I typically assume information older than two years to be a data point, but not necessarily accurate to the present. A permanently shadowed, remnant snow pack, dusted gray by the wind, was feeding the lakes. The Golden Trout has supported native populations of golden trout (California’s state fish) for thousands of years in the drainages of the Upper Kern River. Golden trout are native to the Kern River watershed in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, more specifically the Kern Plateau. The trip begins on a mostly sandy trail leading you North into the Golden trout Wilderness. It offers scenic views of the Sierra, meadows, alpine terrain, and lakes. If you've been catching catfish with the same method for years, it's time to change it up and... Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The trail pass fortunately has no quota. To avoid losing the trail among the boulders, follow the bottom of the drainage and work along the right side of the canyon as you ascend. The Fishing Spots section is dedicated to letting you know where the fish are for all the lakes in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Mostly flat with more aggressive switchbacks at the end which actually is much better, since it's less boring. Fantastic tenkara fishing. Strips should be short and quick, about 6 inches at a time, pausing the fly randomly after a series of strips. Cottonwood It's easier than you think — and will put more big bass in your boat. Please note that the gate leading to this trailhead is currently closed (06/04/2020). Golden Trout Creek is a designated Heritage and Wild Trout Water. The trail follows the Kern river until you reach an absolutely stunning meadow to make camp in. A Mt. In the 1960s, the State of California embarked on an intense conservation program to conserve the species and their habitat, which was historically damaged by heavy livestock overgrazing. Other things to consider in thin air at altitude is the sun’s rays. Trail ends at Sheep Mountain entrance of the Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW). Falcon/Globe Pequot Press. Golden Trout Wilderness School is a non-profit educational center located at Golden Trout Camp in the Southern Sierra Nevada. You may need to vary retrieval speeds, and if a simple reel-in retrieve doesn’t produce with the Daredevle or Super Duper, try pausing or twitching randomly. All Rights Reserved. This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months. If spinning gear is your forte, focus on ultralight tackle with no larger than 4-pound-test monofilament or similar diameter fluorocarbon line for finicky fish. Wind can be unpredictable in the higher elevations, but casting comes easy when the gusts lay down. To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine. The Golden Trout Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1978. NOTE: As of September 2020, this trail is closed due to unhealthy air quality. It’s common knowledge that atmospheric oxygen saturation decreases with increasing elevation, but it’s difficult to appreciate the significance of “thin air” without having survived it. The heaviest use of the wilderness is near Burnt Corral crossing of Little Kern, Little Kern Bridge, and Forks of the Kern, Coyote Lakes, Maggie Lakes, Rattlesnake Trail and Kern … To get to Golden Trout Lakes, head north out of Big Sky on highway 191 for 5.1 miles. Pass over the log bridge or rock hop, and proceed on the flat trail skirting a meadow that holds Cottonwood Creek. Reaching the lake is an uphill hike but the first half is almost flat and the second part, the steeper one, is nicely graded. Fly-fishing offers the best opportunity for success, in my experience. Stepping down onto a boulder along the lake’s edge, I rolled the olive-green sinking line into the depths. The trail arrives at Lake 1 to the northeast. Note: Parts of this trail are closed on the western side of the route. Backcountry fishing also requires thrift in gear selection. Packing light with a water filter is a viable option. The entry point and home base for the Golden Trout Wilderness and Cottonwood Lakes is the campground, Horseshoe Meadows. The gray walls of the high peaks reflected off the deep blue of the lake. The trailhead lies at approximately 10,200 feet elevation, 20 minutes up the Rock Creek drainage from U.S. Highway 395. The area is traversed by several hundred miles of scenic trails and two wild and scenic rivers (North and South Forks of the Kern River). Lure patterns such as Panther Martin, Rooster Tail, Super Duper, and Daredevle spoons are reliable classics, but use the smallest size available. Lakes 1 and 2 hold golden and brook trout, while only goldens are found in lakes 3 and 4. Lay out a dry fly on a 7 1/2-foot, 5X tapered leader, where the shallows drop into the deep blue, and let it ride. The hike isn't very stenuous at all. The Department of Fish and Game use some of the lakes in this area as a hatchery, from which they seed the Sierras with Golden Trout. The Cloud Peak Wilderness has a lot of regulations—more than the Winds—but they let you camp within 100-feet of water, which is nice. Golden Trout Pack Station offers horseback riding, fly fishing, hunting, and Like Cottonwood Lakes, the portion of the Kern River where golden trout can be found is extremely tricky to get to. Your source for Sierra wilderness information. The Forks of the Kern Trail is a wonderful out & back 2-3 day backpacking trip. Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here. The campsites along the way are lovely usually skirting the meadows but watch out for the livestock - cows, horses, mule deer and bear tracks are common. Excellent fishing for brook trout in two 10,000 foot lakes. While some larger fish may be lurking in the depths, the majority of your catch will likely measure 12 inches or shorter. The TripThe Golden Trout Wilderness is more open and gentler than the better-known areas of the Sierra to the north. All waters on the Kern Plateau are open to angling, although many are accessible only by trail since both watersheds are largely encompassed within the Golden Trout Wilderness. Keep the fly on the water as long as possible, allowing cruising fish to spot the fly. This is an entrance to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. It is celebrated for its expansive meadows, flowing creeks, and the fish for which the wilderness is named. It is thought that California golden trout may have extended downstream of Lake Isabella prior to the construction of Isabella Dam. An awesome spectacle — its rich auburn belly, buttery yellow flanks and olive-sized parr marks — in a small package. 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