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    Cottonwood Basin Loop Backpacking

    Big Pine , California

    Cottonwood Basin Loop Backpacking

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    Reno, NV
    Explorer | 31 pts
    5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
    I did Cottonwood Basin back in 1992 or 1993, so don't expect any details! But I had to respond to the other review. It sounds like they were expecting a trail, and yes, that's right, you come here expecting *not* to be on a trail. And that's its beauty. It's a gentle terrain that's easy to just sort of wander wherever you want, with lots of meadows, granite outcrops to scramble around on, reliable water, no neighbors.
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Explorer | 31 pts
    1 out of 5 stars1 out of 5 stars1 out of 5 stars1 out of 5 stars1 out of 5 stars
    This is hike #39 in "Backpacking California" (2013), which describes a "well-traveled use trail" on this hike. We enjoyed diverse wildflowers as we hiked through mature sagebrush for several hours in search of ANY trail. We turned around when hydration became an issue.

    Pros: It's isolated and beautiful!
    1. Trailhead markers aren't named.
    2. Starting from the trailhead behind the big wooden NFS sign, which we're *pretty* sure was the one marked on the map in the book, there's no trail after the first ~0.25 miles. (A local mountain-biking guide who was guiding a party based out of the 4WD "parking lot", told us the meadows flood every spring and wipe out any trails made the previous year.)
    3. Our odometer didn't match he mileage given in the book. We drove ~0.5 miles further to reach the 4WD lot.
    4. For some reason, the USGS 7.5' topo map of this area shows the road continuing far beyond where it actually terminates (maybe 0.25 miles beyond the remnants of the McCloud Camp). A single-track trail and NFS trailhead sign at the 4WD lot's far end takes over. (We were told this is the "easier" way to Granite Meadows, although again, the trails are ephemeral.)

    Other notes:
    1. If your'e using the Backpacking CA guide, going counterclockwise (not aiming for Granite Meadow, for which there seem to be many candidates) might be better.
    2. The USGS 7.5' topo map for Barcroft Mountain is indispensable.
    3. If you're coming from sea level, the high elevation/desert environment will make you more thirsty than usual and water is scarce to nonexistent. We didn't get far enough to confirm the presence of running water on the loop. (We found a spring-fed "creek" as described in the book--not sure if it was "the" spring-fed creek--that was 1" deep at its deepest and quickly seeped back into the dry, cracked creekbed. When we visited at the end of July, there was a reliably flowing creek at the 4WD lot, where you can start out from.)

    Trail Information

    Big Pine
    Nearby City
    1,600 feet
    Elevation Gain
    Trail Type
    Moderate to Difficult
    Skill Level
    2-3 days
    Inyo National Forest
    Local Contacts
    USGS 7.5-min. Mount Barcroft
    Local Maps

    2 Members Completed

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