Big Whitney Meadow is one of the largest meadows within the Golden Trout Wilderness. The trip includes a trek up and over Cottonwood Pass, but the views are rewarding. You’ll camp along an “island” and have the ability to explore, fish, and enjoy the grand views the meadow provides.
Download Map -> Big Whitney Meadow
Day 1 – Horseshoe Meadows to Big Whitney Meadow (8.1 miles)
The trail starts on the west side of the parking lot and is a nice gradual grade to warm up the legs. Less than a half a mile another trail joins from the south. Continue going west towards Cottonwood Pass (3.4 miles approx.). The trail crosses two unnamed tributaries to Horseshoe Meadow prior to making the steep ascent to the pass. The climb up to the pass is about a mile long and rocky. However, don’t forget to look back down into Horseshoe Meadow for some nice scenic photos!
From Cottonwood Pass continue in a southwest direction towards Big Whitney Meadow. The trail follows along Stokes Stringer Creek for about 3 miles. The trail now enters the eastern portion of Big Whitney Meadow. Continue trekking westward towards the “island” and set up camp. Spend the rest of the day exploring the meadow and fishing.
Day 2 – Big Whitney Meadow to Horseshoe Meadows (8.1 miles)
Go back the same way you came. The hardest part will be the climb up to Stokes Springer to Cottonwood Pass. Once at the pass, it is all down hill from there.
Option for Day 2 – Chicken Spring Lake (1 mile round trip)
Depending on your physical condition and time constraints, you can access Chicken Spring Lake from Cottonwood Pass. It is a nice place to have lunch or to take a break. Once at Cottonwood Pass, go north on the Pacific Crest Trail for approximately 0.5 miles. The lake is to the north of the trail when you come to creek crossing, which is the outlet flow from the lake. Hike back 0.5 miles to Cottonwood Pass to then continue downhill towards Horseshoe Meadows.