Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
7,672.00 ft (2,338.43 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
18.00 mi (28.97 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This 18-mile out-and-back trail is steep and strenuous, gaining close to 7,000 feet of elevation within the first 9 miles. The Sawmill Pass trail provides access to the John Muir Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park, and the headwaters of Woods Creek. There is parking available at the trailhead, but there is no water or shade, and starting early is recommended to avoid the extreme heat in the summer and fall. The trail is popular with hikers, trail runners, and backpackers.

The trailhead is located off of Division Creek Road near Division Creek. Unlike some of the other access trails along the Eastern Sierra, the Sawmill Pass trail starts at a lower elevation (4,600) which can cause extremely hot temperatures for the first couple thousand feet of climbing. 

Starting from the trailhead, follow the trail for 1.75 miles where it reaches a junction with a stock trail. Continue uphill across an exposed, brush-covered slope before making a short descent into the Sawmill Creek drainage. The trail crosses The Hogsback and heads towards Sawmill Meadow. Following Sawmill Creek, the trail zigzags across switchbacks and eventually reaches Mule Lake and Sawmill Lake. After Sawmill Lake, the trail climbs steeply to the pass where approximately 1,000 feet are gained in one mile! Give your leg muscles a break and enjoy the expansive, panoramic views from the pass before descending the way you came back to the start.

There is no limit to the possibilities for adventure in the High Sierra. If you would like to extend this trip, the trail descends a talus slope on the north side of Sawmill Pass leading to the Woods Creek area, Woods Lake and eventually connects to the Pacific Crest Trail / John Muir Trail. 

The area is home to the rare Sierra Bighorn Sheep. To protect and respect their habitat, pets are not recommended.

CAMPING AND PERMITS
The route described here is for an out and back day hike or trail run. If you are planning to camp overnight you will need a permit. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance from www.recreation.gov.

Additional Wilderness Permit Information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fsbdev3_003808, 1-(760) 873-2483

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Sawmill Pass Trail Info: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd498768.pdf

Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/recreation/recarea/?recid=20698,  1-(760) 876-6200

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Alpine Lakes. Granite Peaks.

Cons

Parts are exposed and get be very hot.

Trailhead Elevation

4,600.00 ft (1,402.08 m)

Highest point

11,356.00 ft (3,461.31 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Fishing
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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