Welcome to SP!  -
Cirque Peak
Mountains & Rocks
Mountains & Rocks

Cirque Peak

Cirque Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 36.47700°N / 118.2369°W

Object Title: Cirque Peak

Elevation: 12900 ft / 3932 m


Page By: Tom Kenney

Created/Edited: Jan 3, 2004 / Jul 3, 2006

Object ID: 152203

Hits: 29375 

Page Score: 89.16%  - 29 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote



Cirque Peak is the southern end of the High Sierra in that it is the last of the contiguous chain of glaciated peaks in the Sierra Nevada (Olancha Peak being the southern-most locale of significant glaciation).

The peak is easily reached from either Cottonwood Pass or New Army Pass. Class 1 routes may be followed from south, west, and north. Some class 2 and class 3 terrain may be scrambled along its eastern aspect, and up the actual north face that overlooks the High Lake cirque.

There are excellent views from the summit, similar to those obtained by climbing nearby Mount Langley, but without so much huffing and puffing.

Getting There

From the town of Lone Pine on Highway US-395, drive 5 miles west on Whitney Portal Road. Go left on Horseshoe Meadow Road and continue 20 miles up a remarkable set of switchbacks to the Horseshoe Meadow trailhead. The peak may be approached by hiking up New Army Pass (as for Mount Langley) or up Cottonwood Pass to Chicken Spring Lake.

For the recommended route, the Cirque Peak Traverse, use the New Army Pass approach, hike across the summit (generally following the Sierra crest), then descend into the Chicken Spring Lake cirque and on to Cottonwood Pass.

Red Tape

For day hikes, no permit required. For overnight stays, obtain a free wilderness permit at the Mount Whitney Ranger Station in Lone Pine. Permits may be reserved in advance for $5 per person.

Mt. Whitney Ranger Station
P.O. Box 8
Lone Pine, CA 93545
Phone: 760-876-6200

USFS Wilderness Permit Information and Reservations

When To Climb

Best season is June through November. The Horseshoe Meadow Road climbs to 10,400' and is not passable after the first significant snows, making an approach in off-season a tedious slog, even on skis.


For day hikes, camp at the hiker sites at the Horseshoe Meadow trailhead. For overnight hikes, good camping may be had near Chicken Spring Lake, above Cottonwood Pass, or at South Fork Lakes or Cottonwood Lakes.

You may also camp low at the Lone Pine Creek campground on the Whitney Portal Road, or the Tuttle Creek campground on the Horseshoe Meadow Road. Neither of these options allows for good acclimatization before the hike, so I don't recommend them.

External Links

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-1 of 1    
tarolUntitled Comment


Voted 9/10

Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit and Reservation Info
Posted Feb 6, 2006 2:01 pm

Viewing: 1-1 of 1    


Cirque Peak, view from First...Cirque PeakMuir Lake Panorama - Cirque PeakCirque Peak and Mt. Langley from a stream in Horseshoe MeadowsYour Toast Is ReadyUrsa Major setting over spur...Cirque Peak and Mt. Langley
Cirque Peak Bagger and RegisterCirque PeakCirque PeakCirque Peak from the...View of Cirque Peak and the...The Southern Side Of The NE RidgeCirque Peak from Horseshoe Meadow
[ View Gallery - 62 More Images ]