SUMMARY: A 52-mile backpack trip that crosses the crest of the Southern Sierra Nevadas from Quaking Aspen on the west side to Cottonwood Pass (which is just south of Mt. Whitney) on the east side. Allow 6 to 9 days total for the trip.
DESCRIPTION: The Golden Trout Trail may be started at either end and is easier if you start on the eastern side at the Cottonwood trail head. The trail goes by Cottonwood Pack Station and west over Cottonwood Pass. You may want to camp at Horseshoe Meadow before you go over the pass. Continue over the pass to Big Whitney Meadow. Take the trail south (left) to Tunnel Meadow after Golden Trout Creek. From here, the trail swings west and continues downhhill to Little Whitney Meadow. After a stay in Little Whitney Meadow, the trail drops sharply down to the Kern River (good view up the canyon as you descend). You pass a rare natural bridge abgout halfway down. Cross the Kern River and continue downstream past Kern Canyon Ranger Station, Kern Lake and Little Kern Lake. After coming to Hole-in-the-Ground, the trail starts up the canyon toward Meadow Campground. Water is scarce late in the season. From Willow Meadow, the trail traverses over to a junction with the Little Kern River. Continue from here southwest to Quaking Aspen trail head. This is a moderate trip from east to west, but it is a strenuous trip from west to east.
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