The Pass Loop is a long day hike. The origins of this loop begin and end at Horseshoe Meadows Campground. Users will essentially create a clockwise loop around Horseshoe Meadow with views along the Pacific Crest Trail that peak into the vast Golden Trout Wilderness.
Download the map! – The Pass Loop Day Trip
The begins by heading west towards Cottonwood Pass. Approximately 0.3 miles down the trail take a left going south towards Trail Pass. About a mile later, go east 0.5 miles along a short cut to another trail junction. This small section of trail will be trekking along the southern portion of Horseshoe Meadow. Once at the trail junction, take a right (south) towards Mulkey Pass (10,380 feet elevation).
Now the trek west along the Pacific Crest trail to Trail Pass for 0.8 miles. Trail Pass is at 10,500 feet elevation. Continue uphill and around the northern part of Trail Peak mountain. This is the longer section of the hike and water may be scarce depending on the time of year. As the trail treks along the side of the mountains enjoy views of Poison Meadow near Trail Peak, Bullfrog and Mulkey Meadows to the south, and when almost at Cottonwood Pass enjoy views of Big Whitney Meadow to the west. About 4.8 miles later from Trail Pass you’ll be at Cottonwood Pass (11,160 feet elevation).
Make the descent eastward towards Horseshoe Meadow campground. The trail zigzags down the mountain. Watch for others hiking up as this is a pass used to access the Mt. Whitney Zone. About 1.7 miles down the trail crosses Horseshoe Meadow Creek. Another 1.7 miles later the trail returns to the junction for Trail Pass and Mulkey Pass. Continue east another 0.3 mile and the trail arrives at the campground.