Both are found in this wilderness. An awesome spectacle — its rich auburn belly, buttery yellow flanks and olive-sized parr marks — in a small package. Standing among the jagged peaks, stunted pines and crystalline waters of the alpine elevations neatly framed the experience for this angler. 8/31/2016 3:29:29 PM. The trail arrives at Lake 1 to the northeast. On the Sequoia National Forest … Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Golden Trout Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you. The complete hike climbs about 1,100 feet over 5 miles. Cottonwood The feeling of amazement and blessing, as I gazed for the first time upon the overall masterpiece of a true golden trout in the Sierra Nevada backcountry, will not soon depart. Once you reach the river, there is a relatively easy forging. The trail follows the PCT for about 10 miles, past Chicken Spring Lake, and then on around to the west of Cirque Peak to meet up with New Army Pass (12,300') just south of Mt. Their beauty, complimentary to the breathtaking wilderness areas in which they thrive, the effort required to reach their habitat, and the suite of skills required to entice a strike harmoniously strums every chord in my soul. Dade loomed overhead to the south. All Rights Reserved. In fact, much of the South Fork of the Kern River is only accessible to the dedicated outdoorsmen who are willing to ride in by horseback. The fly was engulfed as it slowly sank on the pause. They are native to Kern Plateau area but their native populations are strained due to the introduction of invasive species and habitat destruction. Golden Trout Wilderness School is a non-profit educational center located at Golden Trout Camp in the Southern Sierra Nevada. The trail begins to gain elevation and you will want to avoid a turn off toward Golden Trout Camp. With some pre-trip planning and research, striking gold in the Treasure Lakes, or other areas of the Sierra Nevadas, is easily attainable. Stripping a size 16, bead-headed nymph will produce when larger flies fail. But for those who make the trip, catching a golden trout, the state fish, is worth the effort. Sight-casting works with a soft presentation. The California golden trout, or simply the golden trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita or Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita), is a species of trout native to California.The golden trout is normally found in the Golden Trout Creek (tributary to the Kern River), Volcano Creek (tributary to Golden Trout Creek), and the South Fork Kern River.It is the state freshwater fish of California. After a mile there is reliable water in the form of a creek. https://www.nps.gov/maps/full.html?mapId=1a3dabe6-06e2-4766-ac55-a7d41b37ea14 However, their populations have been imperiled since the early 1900s. If spinning gear is your forte, focus on ultralight tackle with no larger than 4-pound-test monofilament or similar diameter fluorocarbon line for finicky fish. Lay out a dry fly on a 7 1/2-foot, 5X tapered leader, where the shallows drop into the deep blue, and let it ride. The South Fork Kern River is a designated Wild Trout Water. Other things to consider in thin air at altitude is the sun’s rays. Mostly flat with more aggressive switchbacks at the end which actually is much better, since it's less boring. There are a few places to get water, but 3-5L for the entire hike is good enough. Chap stick and sunscreen or long sleeves, pants and a large-brimmed hat are important as the sun’s rays are more intense in the alpine environment. The Season is in full swing and our wranglers are working hard and playing hard. The Little Lakes Valley is nestled between the towns of Bishop and Mammoth Lakes, along the eastern side of the Sierras. Thirteen-thousand-foot Mt. Your source for Sierra wilderness information. Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe, 6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow, The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish, 10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About, 10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made, Work the Night Shift for After-Dark Crappies, Precision Slow-Motion Techniques for Reservoir Catfish. In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean. Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter. Fly-fishing offers the best opportunity for success, in my experience. I typically assume information older than two years to be a data point, but not necessarily accurate to the present. Golden Trout Wilderness tour: Kern Lake Sequoia National Forest. From the east, most visitors approach from Hwy 395 near Lone Pine. To get to Golden Trout Lakes, head north out of Big Sky on highway 191 for 5.1 miles. With burning thighs and short breath, I gazed back at Long Lake, about a mile and hundreds of feet below. Two subspecies of golden trout are recognized; South Fork Kern golden trout and the Little Kern golden trout. Golden Trout Lakes trail is a 5 mile out and back hike to a beautiful alpine lake in the Gallatin Range of SW Montana. My breath, still labored from the climb, or maybe just the elevation, was sucked away completely as the line jerked tight between my fingertips. Golden Trout Pack Station offers horseback riding, fly fishing, hunting, and Swedo, Suzanne, Hiking California’s Golden Trout Wilderness. Fishing is available in Maggie and Twin Lakes. Avoid swivels and split-shot if possible for a more “natural” presentation. At an elevation of 11,200 feet, Cottonwood Pass serves as a gateway to the Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.The pass is reached via a 3.5-mile one way trail from Horseshoe Meadow, which has an elevation of 10,000 feet, making this is one of the easiest passes for hikers to reach in the Eastern Sierra. |   From the parking lot trailhead, there is a steep decent down to the river. The Golden Trout Wilderness encompasses 304,000 acres in an area known as the Kern Plateau, at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada. This week-long trip, which is divided between camping at Golden Trout Wilderness School and backpacking through the surrounding Cottonwood Lakes Basin in smaller groups, is their first taste of the Thacher outdoor experience. There are a number of golden trout lakes in the Sierra Nevada range, but the Treasure Lakes in the Little Lakes Valley are by far the most productive, in my experience, and are managed under the general fishing regulations for the Sierra District of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Family Fishing Getaway: Niagara Falls, N.Y. 5 Fall Fishing Tips on How to Earn Your Stripers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power, Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC, Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod, Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months. Be sure to place the fly far enough ahead of a cruising fish to avoid spooking it as the line touches down on the clear water. Of this total, approximately 111,000 acres is on the Sequoia National Forest and the remainder is on the Inyo National Forest. Thirty minutes of channeling my inner mountain goat, teetering and hopping up, over and across jagged granite, I found myself perched 11,300 feet above sea level. Each trip reaffirms the fact that the road sucks. A very nice trip into the lesser used Golden Trout Wilderness in the Southern Sierras. Prior to heading out to catch The Big One, you will need to know a few things. Golden trout are most often found in remote, alpine drainages over 9,000 feet in elevation. Cottonwood Lakes Loop starts from Horseshoe Meadow and travels from the Golden Trout Wilderness into John Muir Wilderness. The Golden Trout Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1978. Above Lone Pine lies the eastern portion of the Golden Trout wilderness. Our entire route is nicely portrayed on the Tom Harrison map: “Golden Trout Wilderness." Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? Pass over the log bridge or rock hop, and proceed on the flat trail skirting a meadow that holds Cottonwood Creek. Reaching the lake is an uphill hike but the first half is almost flat and the second part, the steeper one, is nicely graded. To avoid losing the trail among the boulders, follow the bottom of the drainage and work along the right side of the canyon as you ascend. Includes details of wilderness areas, latest sierra wilderness news, resources for planning your trip, and notes from professionals in the field. If traveling to the Sierras from elevations below 6,000 feet, consider camping or lodging at about 8,000 feet for a couple days to acclimate to the environment before setting out for higher destinations. Please note that the gate leading to this trailhead is currently closed (06/04/2020). A number of common trout-fishing techniques with flies or lures coax these little beauties into a strike, but prepare to work for the goldens, particularly if fishing later in the season. Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe. The primary decisions on backpacking destinations are centered on fishing for Golden Trout.The Golden Trout is the California State Fish. The 300,000+ acre Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW) was designated by Congress in 1978. A moment of panic overwhelmed me, as I realized I was playing a trout I had obsessed about for more than a decade. If backpacking this trail, you will need a wilderness permit from Lone Pine. It is located 40 miles (64 km) east of Porterville, California within Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Forest. In 1978, the Golden Trout Wilderness was established within the Inyo and Sequoia National Forests, protecting the upper watersheds of the Kern and South Fork Kern Rivers. Information on trips to Coyote Lakes in the Golden Trout Wilderness. California’s state fish, the California golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) is native to only two creeks draining the Kern Plateau but has been distributed throughout many of the high Sierra lakes where they now thrive. Fantastic tenkara fishing. Keep the fly on the water as long as possible, allowing cruising fish to spot the fly. Locate the trailhead. Just remember: information on catch rates and fish size can change dramatically between seasons. NOTE: As of September 2020, this trail is closed due to unhealthy air quality. While some larger fish may be lurking in the depths, the majority of your catch will likely measure 12 inches or shorter. Turning around, I faced the cluster of four alpine lakes, known as the Treasure Lakes, in the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Please review the USDA's map for further information. You can chose to complete the loop section anyway you like. The gray walls of the high peaks reflected off the deep blue of the lake. Lakes 1 and 2 hold golden and brook trout, while only goldens are found in lakes 3 and 4. And if all else fails, choose a smaller fly. Langley. Approximate hiking time to the lakes is 5-6 hours. Golden trout fishing requires gaining altitude to where the scenery and trek can take your breath away. At no time in my life have I felt worse than amidst the dire clutches of altitude sickness. There are trails that shoot off from this loop that head to Muir Lake, South Fork Lake and New Army Pass. While pursuit of High-Sierra gold is the allure of a backcountry trip into the Treasure Lakes, proper fishing gear and technique are only pieces of the puzzle of success. The Forks of the Kern Trail is a wonderful out & back 2-3 day backpacking trip. It is celebrated for its expansive meadows, flowing creeks, and the fish for which the wilderness is named. In the 1960s, the State of California embarked on an intense conservation program to conserve the species and their habitat, which was historically damaged by heavy livestock overgrazing. Almost too easy. A Mt. The Golden Trout Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada, in Tulare County and Inyo County, California. — Scott Trumbo. It’s common knowledge that atmospheric oxygen saturation decreases with increasing elevation, but it’s difficult to appreciate the significance of “thin air” without having survived it. Note: Parts of this trail are closed on the western side of the route. Golden Trout Lakes Dayhike I've bumped my way up the Portal Creek road a bunch of times over the past forty years. Stepping down onto a boulder along the lake’s edge, I rolled the olive-green sinking line into the depths. You may need to vary retrieval speeds, and if a simple reel-in retrieve doesn’t produce with the Daredevle or Super Duper, try pausing or twitching randomly. Please note that the Cottonwood Lakes trail passes through Sequoia National Park and only service animals are allowed there, no pets. To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt recommended a biologist to be dispatched to study the plight of California’s golden trout. You can avoid the buoyancy issues of the tapered leader, and the softness of the fluorocarbon will allow the fly to move more naturally under water. The Golden Trout has supported native populations of golden trout (California’s state fish) for thousands of years in the drainages of the Upper Kern River. Strips should be short and quick, about 6 inches at a time, pausing the fly randomly after a series of strips. All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. From the northeast to the south, and around to the northwest, the Treasure Lakes are numbered 1 through 4 on a map included in Eastern Sierra Back Country Fishing Guide, published by the CDFW. From here you can see west into Sequoia and Kings Canyon for spectacular views. Golden trout can be as finicky as they are beautiful – especially late in the season. The Department of Fish and Game use some of the lakes in this area as a hatchery, from which they seed the Sierras with Golden Trout. Starting from Onion Valley, Golden Trout Lakes Trail ends at Golden Trout Lakes, in the John Muir Wilderness. The Season is in full swing and our wranglers are working hard and playing hard. Excellent fishing for brook trout in two 10,000 foot lakes. A permanently shadowed, remnant snow pack, dusted gray by the wind, was feeding the lakes. The drainage from Golden Lakes is barely visible of the left-ish. Wind can be unpredictable in the higher elevations, but casting comes easy when the gusts lay down. Tapered leaders carry buoyancy that floats the fly above the sinking line and reduces the fly’s action. As a boy, fishing the South Fork Kern River in 1913, he reported catching California golden trout in the "gorge" just upstream of the Bloomfield Ranch, near the southern boundary of the Domeland Wilderness. The Cloud Peak Wilderness has a lot of regulations—more than the Winds—but they let you camp within 100-feet of water, which is nice. This is an entrance to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The hike is relatively flat. The trail pass fortunately has no quota. Accessing the wilderness via the Mosquito Flats-Mono Pass Trailhead provides a generally modest hike into some of the most scenic wilderness the Western U.S. has to offer. It offers scenic views of the Sierra, meadows, alpine terrain, and lakes. But beware, goldens can be quite picky, scrutinizing a dry fly like a clever spring creek brown trout. The main trails are well-manicured, but an official trail to Treasure Lakes has not been developed. Backcountry fishing also requires thrift in gear selection. It is beautiful and a hard to get to area that is first come first serve and has about 10-15 camping spots. Each rock threatens to jar the fillings out of ones teeth. Watching fish approach the fly from more than 20 feet away is a remarkable experience. Want to tangle with giant striped bass during the fall months? All waters on the Kern Plateau are open to angling, although many are accessible only by trail since both watersheds are largely encompassed within the Golden Trout Wilderness. #5 - Maggie Lakes via Summit Trail [CLOSED], #6 - Mount Langley Loop via Cottonwood Pass [CLOSED], #7 - John Muir Trail: Horseshoe Meadow to Happy Isles [CLOSED], #8 - Forks of the Kern Trail to Painters Camp [CLOSED]. For now, the north eastern part of the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Inyo remains open, which keeps the Pacific Crest Trail and trails at Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass, and Cottonwood Lakes open as long as those itineraries avoid the closure areas on the Inyo and the Sequoia National Forest (as a rule itineraries heading north from these trails). Every year, just a few days after arriving on campus, first-year students find themselves on the trail to Golden Trout. Like Cottonwood Lakes, the portion of the Kern River where golden trout can be found is extremely tricky to get to. The entry point and home base for the Golden Trout Wilderness and Cottonwood Lakes is the campground, Horseshoe Meadows. After all, to get to where golden trout live, a long arduous journey is often required. The U.S. Forest Service publishes a free guide (PDF format) — Eastern Sierra Backcountry Fishing Guide – USDA Forest Service — to the high lakes. Standard patterns like the Adams, Royal Wulff, Blue-winged Olive, and Caddis in sizes 16-18 reliably elicit strikes. Revered as one of the most beautiful trout in the world, golden trout have made the bucket list for many anglers, myself included. The symptoms of altitude sickness are basically that of severe dehydration with headache, nausea, dizziness and energy loss. If quick strips don’t work, slow the retrieve. The area is traversed by several hundred miles of scenic trails and two wild and scenic rivers (North and South Forks of the Kern River). The GTW was named for the brightly colored native golden trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita) which is the California State Fish. Falcon/Globe Pequot Press. The trail follows the Kern river until you reach an absolutely stunning meadow to make camp in. Slow trolling cut catfish baits can lead to dramatically more bites than still-fishing over an... Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region. Beautiful Alpine Lake. The hike isn't very stenuous at all. https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/california/golden-trout-wilderness After a 6-second countdown, I began my retrieve with short, quick strips, pausing randomly. (Photo by Brad Trumbo). #2 - Muir Lake from the old Cottonwood Trailhead. Numerous hiking adventures are possible. Let your line sink at least 6 to 8 seconds before beginning your retrieve. The solemn green of the evergreens cast deep contrast against the light granite with a dappling of brilliant goldenrod amid sparse quaking aspen and grasses changing with the season. The distance to the lakes is approximately 2.2 miles, and the elevation gain is approximately 2,200 feet. First make sure to obtain a fishing license. Trail ends at Sheep Mountain entrance of the Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW). Instead, cut a 4-foot length of light fluorocarbon line as your leader. 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