New Army Pass

New Army Pass lies at the end of Cottonwood Lakes Trail, 7.5 miles from Horseshoe Meadow. The pass provides off-trail ascents to two nearby summits, Mount Langley and Cirque Peak. A trail down the northwest side of the pass ventures into Sequoia National Park with access to countless backcountry destinations including Lower Soldier Lake, Sky Blue Lake, and Mount Pickering.

Lower Soldier Lake is about ten miles from Horseshoe Meadow and makes a great backpacker’s campsite for those trekking through the Eastern Sierra. Two trails lead to the lake. Cottonwood Pass Trail is the easiest, but Cottonwood Lakes Trail offers more dramatic scenery, and because of its topography, makes a great return route on a loop to the lake.

New Army Pass Trail
The trail below New Army Pass

Lower Soldier Lake to New Army Pass: New Army Pass lies 1,400 feet above Lower Soldier Lake, and those who have climbed the pass from the other directions will find the western approach surprisingly gradual. From the junction 0.1 miles west of Lower Soldier Lake, take the Pacific Crest Trail south for half a mile and turn left (east) at the junction with New Army Pass Trail. The single-track is well-marked and parallels a small fork of Rock Creek. The trail weaves along a forest’s edge next to a boulder-filled meadow. It crosses the creek and gradually progresses toward the slope beneath the pass.

The trail has a few moderate rises, but for the most part, the switches come at a gentle grade. The views expand as you climbs up the rocky slope toward the snow-lined pass. Take in the daunting perspective of Mount Langley to the north, and the calming sight of the Cottonwood Lakes to the south.

From the pass, it is 7.5 miles back to Horseshoe Meadow across Cottonwood Basin. The trailhead is at 10,040 feet and the pass is at 12,300 feet, so it is just about all downhill from here. Those looking to hike higher than the pass may tackle Mount Langley or Cirque Peak.

New Army Pass Trail
Mount Langley above New Army Pass Trail
Segments of the Lower Soldier Lake Loop:
  1. Start out on Cottonwood Pass Trail (3.5 miles)
  2. Pass Chicken Spring Lake (4.1 miles)
  3. Continue past the Siberian Outpost to Lower Soldier Lake (8.8 miles)
  4. Climb to New Army Pass (11.7 miles)
  5. Descend along Cottonwood Lakes Trail (19.2 miles)

To get to the trailhead: From the city of Lone Pine on Route 395, turn west at the traffic light on Whitney Portal Road. After three miles, turn left on Horseshoe Meadow Road. Drive twenty miles up mountain switchbacks to road’s end at Horseshoe Meadow. Cottonwood Lakes trailhead is at the end of the paved road to the right. If you hike to Lower Soldier Lake as a loop, the two trailheads are half a mile apart and can be connected through the pack station trail or by passing through the campground and hillside that separate the trailheads.

Trailhead address: Horseshoe Meadows Road, Inyo National Forest, Lone Pine, CA 93545
Trailhead coordinates: 36.4532, -118.1699 (36° 27′ 11.5″N 118° 10′ 11.6″W)

Elevation Profile
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Trail Map

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These photos were taken in July of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
sierra lake Lower Soldier Lake
This 19.2-mile loop crosses Cottonwood Pass and New Army Pass to visit a beautiful lake that is an ideal camping spot for backpackers heading higher and deeper into the Sierra.
Sky Blue Lake Sky Blue Lake
This hike extends beyond Lower Soldier Lake up Miter Basin to a deep blue lake surrounded by towering peaks.
sierra hiking trail Cottonwood Pass
This 7-mile round trip trail ascends 1,200 feet to an 11,200-foot pass and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, with access to Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.
sierra hiking trail Cottonwood Lakes
This scenic trail through a lake-filled basin provides a 10-mile round trip day hike to Long Lake and a 7.5-miles one-way trek to New Army Pass on the border of Sequoia National Park near Mount Langley.
sierra hiking trail Old Cottonwood Creek Trail
This 8 to 9-mile day hike follows a secluded trail through mountain meadows to the South Fork Lakes and Cirque Lake.
sierra hiking trail Mount Langley
This 22-mile trek travels past Cottonwood Lakes Trail over New Army Pass to a 14,042-foot summit with towering views of the Sierra.
sierra hiking trail Old Cottonwood Creek Trail
This 8 to 9-mile day hike follows a secluded trail through mountain meadows to the South Fork Lakes and Cirque Lake.
Mount Pickering Mount Pickering
This 13,485-foot summit rises above Sky Blue Lake to offer sweeping views of the Sierra.
hiking trails sequoia More trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Explore other destinations in Sequoia National Park and the rest of the range.
sierra hiking trail Horseshoe Meadow Campgrounds
This pair of campgrounds offer 40 sites and serve as a great base for the Cottonwood Pass and Cottonwood Lakes trails.
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Tagged with · Backpacking · Free Trails · John Muir Wilderness · Lakes · Lone Pine · National Parks · Pacific Crest Trail
Distance: 19.2 miles · Elevation change: 2300 feet

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