Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
7,592.00 ft (2,314.04 m)
Trail type
20.90 mi (33.64 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.

The route from Sawmill Trailhead to Woods Lake is a 21-mile out-and-back that crosses the Sierra crest at Sawmill Pass. The destination is the Woods Lake area, a gorgeous pocket of lakes with excellent camping opportunities. The route passes through the John Muir Wilderness and enters Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park at the pass. 

The trailhead to Sawmill Pass begins noticeably lower than other trailheads leading into the Eastern Sierra, beginning around 4,600ft. in the Owens Valley. Because of this, the first few miles can be very hot, and the trail itself is a long haul to the pass up at 11,347ft. The trail meets Sawmill Creek near the beautiful Sawmill Meadow after climbing over the Hogsback. Mule Lake is the first lake met, but it pales in comparison to Sawmill Lake near mile 7 of the climb. Meet Sawmill Pass near mile 9, and descend another mile or two to get into the climactic Woods Lake region. This area is worth a hardy exploration. Notable mountains in the vicinity include Mt. Baxter (13,125ft.) and Acrodectes Peak (13,179ft.) to the south, and Mt. Cedric Wright (12,336ft.) to the north. For our purposes, the route ends here. However, for those looking to extend their trip, the trail continues west to connect to the Pacific Crest Trail in the valley below. 

Wilderness permits are required for backcountry camping, which can be found at This area has been the focus of a bighorn sheep recovery program, whose populations were decimated by earlier domestic sheep grazing. Due to bighorn sheep restrictions, dogs are not allowed on Sawmill Pass Trail. For more information for Sawmill Pass Trail and to check current bighorn sheep restrictions, go to Practice the principles of leave no trace, and take action to defend threatened wilderness areas (

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round





Mountain views. Wildlife. Lake.


Mosquitoes in summer.

Trailhead Elevation

4,604.00 ft (1,403.30 m)

Highest point

11,320.00 ft (3,450.34 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site




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