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Golden Trout Wilderness Loop

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Golden Trout Wilderness Loop

Postby rayfound » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:15 pm

I'm eying a trip loop here, and I'm wondering, not so much about the loop itself (It looks like a very straightforward, all-trail loop), but more about what time of year would be best for it, what conditions to expect, etc.

The loop I'm thinking of would take me (could run this either direction, depending on permit availability):

Start @ horseshoe meadows
1st camp at Big whitney Meadow, via Cottonwood pass.
2nd camp just south of Tunnel meadows, between South fork kern and Golden Trout creek
3rd camp at Bullfrog/Mulkey Meadows
Hike out over Trail Pass back to Horseshoe meadows (Does Trail pass have a Quota? InyoNF doesn't list it on the site)

Would be about 24 miles for the 4 days, which given the very modest elevation changes, I'm very comfortable with.

The thing is, this would be primarily be a fly-fishing trip, and I wouldn't want to go at a time of year that the creeks wouldn't be fishing well due to low-water conditions.

I'm not solely interested in fishing these creeks in the meadow sections, I would hope to find more "freestoney" sections outside of the meadows? My favorite creeks are fast, brushy, steep, and with deep holes.

I also like the idea of getting a shot at both the South fork Kern, and Golden Trout Creek.

Anyone have any insights into these areas - either in late August/Early September, or next year, say in early July.

Many thanks,


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Re: Golden Trout Wilderness Loop

Postby KC JED » Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:13 pm

On a fairly dry year in the southern part of the Sierra, which we had this past winter, I believe that run off in that area would be at a good fishing level earlier in the season, say June/July. I fished the South Fork of the Kern this past June, and the runoff had already peaked. The river had plenty of water, but wasn't rushing so hard that it made fjording impossible. As far as flows go, it was at an ideal level (all things considered). This year, the flows are already getting pretty low. I'm sure someone here has a website to report the cfs of this area.

So, to answer your question, I would say it will be better in July of 2010, but you never know how much precipitation we will receive this year. Some are calling for El Nino, but because scientists don't understand El Nino fully, you never know. I have been to the South Fork of the Kern in August a few years back and the flows were really low.
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Re: Golden Trout Wilderness Loop

Postby gary c. » Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:57 pm

I've researched the same area myself but have not made the trip yet. I did talk thru PM's with a couple of guys on the Kern site tho. You might want to post your request on there also. This is part of one of the PM's I got from someone that went in and out thru Trail Pass about best time of year to go.
Gary C.

As for timing, I think September would be a little late. GTCreek is spring fed, and I've been told flows pretty regularly no matter what the snowpack or water supply is. The other streams, especially Mulkey and Bullfrog Creek will probably be dry by September, even with this year's pack. That's a long way without any water supply, and I would think September is HOT across those meadows. We went the third week in August those feeder creeks were getting pretty low. The South Fork in that region is really no more than a creek itself, so I'm not sure how the flows are in it. I would also think June might be a little early. The passes are over 10,000 feet so I'm not sure what the snow situation is in June. There are a couple of crossings in the meadows that I would think would be VERY difficult early because of the mud.
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