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Mount Langley

Inyo National Forest

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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Mount Langley

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  • Mount Langley (14,032 ft) as viewed from the Cottonwood Lakes Basin.- Mount Langley
  • Marmots are a common sight - and camp menace - in the High Sierra.- Mount Langley
  • At approximately 11,000 feet, Long Lake is a comfortable, convenient launching point for Mount Langley.- Mount Langley
  • Characteristic bluebird skies above Long Lake.- Mount Langley
  • The thin, clear air of the High Sierra offers excellent stargazing.- Mount Langley
  • The neighboring Golden Trout Wilderness is home to the beautiful endemic species for which it is named.- Mount Langley
  • Mount Langley (14,032 ft) viewed from the vicinity of New Army Pass.- Mount Langley
  • Sky Pilot flowers, one of the few plants you'll see at elevation in the High Sierra.- Mount Langley
  • Mount Whitney (14,505 ft) as viewed from the summit of Mount Langley (14,032 ft), approximately 5 miles to the south.- Mount Langley
  • Three endangered Sierra bighorn sheep, of which only a few hundred remain in the wild.- Mount Langley
  • Three young Sierra bighorn rams, an endangered subspecies of which only a few hundred remain in the wild.- Mount Langley
  • The lush Cottonwood Lakes Basin at approximately 11,000 feet.- Mount Langley
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Walk-up fourteener. Trailhead at approximatley 10,000 feet. Beautiful Cottonwood Lakes.
Cons: 
Trail can be hard to follow above New Army Pass.
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Region:
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,032.00 ft (1,228.95 m)
Parking Pass: 
Sometimes
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
20.00 mi (32.19 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
10,000.00 ft (3,048.00 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

At 14,032 feet, Mount Langley is the ninth-tallest peak in California and is generally considered one of the state's easier fourteeners to climb. The most popular approach, via the Cottonwood Lakes Trail through New Army Pass, offers Class 1 hiking to the summit and meanders past lush alpine lakes, streams, and meadows. The trail begins at a generous 10,000 feet in the Golden Trout Wilderness of the Inyo National Forest, launching from the trailhead at Horseshoe Meadow Campground.

Home to California's colorful state fish, the Golden Trout Wilderness invites backpackers to buy a fishing permit and pack a fly rod for a chance to view these rare, vividly beautiful creatures up close. Golden trout are endemic to this region of the High Sierra and can be found in only a handful of waterways: in particular, the South Fork of the Kern River and Golden Trout Creek and its tributaries.

The southernmost of California's fourteeners, Mount Langley offers excellent views of the Whitney range to the northwest, the Owens Valley and White Mountains to the east, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to the west. Its rocky, barren slopes offer alternate choices for peak baggers such as the distinctive, conical Cirque Peak (12,900 feet) above New Army Pass, while the well-watered lake basins below give welcome respite and camping on the way back down. Popular camping areas include Long Lake (at the base of the trail to New Army Pass) and the Cottonwood Lakes (at the base of the trail to Old Army Pass). However, Mount Langley is also possible as a day hike for the fit and ambitious. A hiking option for both day hikers and overnighters is to proceed up New Army Pass and return via Old Army Pass and the Cottonwood Lakes, adding a small loop to the hike for variety and offering a convenient way to explore the scenic lakes.

Permits are required to overnight in the Mount Langley region, and these can be obtained at the Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center in Mammoth or at Forest Service ranger stations in Lee Vining, Bishop, or Lone Pine.

For hikers and backpackers looking to explore the highest elevations available in the contiguous United States, Mount Langley offers a good introduction to the thin air at 14,000 feet without requiring technical mountaineering skills. But adventurer beware: standing on the summit of Mount Langley and looking at Mount Whitney (14,505 feet, the tallest in the contiguous U.S.) reaching another five hundred feet higher only a few miles away can bite you with a summit fever that isn't easy to shake.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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(23 within a 30 mile radius)

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