Mount Whitney viewed from the summit of Mount Langley
At 14,042 feet, Mount Langley is the southern most major peak in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Range. Although Langley is located in close proximity to Mount Whitney, it is not included in the same group of peaks. However,
the views of Mount Whitney and Vicinity
and southern Sierra peaks from the summit are stunning.
There are many class 2, class 3, and even class 5 routes leading
to the summit of Mt. Langley. However, the route from
Cottonwood Lakes and New Army Pass seems to be the easiest
and the most popular way to climb this mountain.
Start your hike from Cottonwood Lakes trailhead.
Note 1: Make sure not to mistake Cottonwood Lakes trailhead
with Cottonwood Pass Trailhead. The two trailheads are rather close.
Continue your hike on a mostly level trail for two miles to Golden Trout
Camp where you get your first view of Mount Langley. From here,
continue up the trail, in a westerly direction, following Cottonwood
Creek to First Lake.
Note 2: Make sure not to take a trail that leads to South Fork Lakes
or the one that leads to 4th and 5th Cottonwood Lakes.
The trail passes on the south shore of 1st Lake and another small unnamed lake, and continues through a boulder field to Long Lake. After Long Lake, with many campsite possibilities, the trail continues to High Lake, where many people prefer to camp. This camp offers great views of Cirque Peak, and many possible ways to climb it. However, the easiest route is through New Army Pass and following the obvious ridge leading to the summit of Cirque Peak.
Cirque Peak on the left viewed from High Lake
New Army Pass to Mount Langley
From High Lake the trail leads up a very unlikely boulder-filled steep slope to New Army Pass. The trail is very good and the only difficulty may be encountered just before the pass due to the amount of snow in early season. From the top of New Army Pass the trail drops down about 300 feet on an excellent trail, but a little hard to see at first, to the Old Army Pass. From here the trail takes you up again between two rocky formations that are visible from high on Langley, thus a great landmark for your retuturn route. Pass between the two rocky formations and head toward the summit. There is a class 2 rocky section close to the top that will be your last real challenge. From the top of the rocky section there will be a number of sandy slopes and final boulders to the summit. The views from the top will be worth the hike.
Mt. Langley and Old Army Pass, 300feet bellow, are seen from the top of New Army Pass.
More summit views.
How to get there, Camping and Red tapeHow to get there
From the small town of Lone Pine on Highway 395 take the Whitney Portal Road for 3.2 miles to its intersection with Horseshoe Meadows Road. Turn left onto Horseshoe Meadows Road and drive 4.7 miles to a gate. This gate stays locked during the winter and part of Spring season due to snow and rockslides. About 13 miles after the gate you will arrive at the Cottonwood Lakes-New Army Pass Trailhead.
There is a camground at the end of Horseshoe Meadows Road which is used as a staging area for hikers going into the backcountry. Beyond this point there are many good sites for camping. It is highly recomended to camp no closer than 100 feet from any streams or lakes. There are also restriction placed on camp fires. Bear canisters are highly recommended, and in some cases they are required by the rangers. For more information refer to Lone Pine Visitor Center.
Permits are required for overnight camping, but quotas apply only during the peak season May 1st through Nov 1st. During off season, self-issuing permits may be obtained at Lone Pine Visitor Center a few miles south of downtown Lone Pine, or from White Mountain Ranger station in downtown Bishop. Day hikes do not require a permit on Mount Langley.