Day Hike to Cirque Peak

I had an extra free day, so instead of doing a local trail like Mount Baldy again, I thought I’d just drive up to Cottonwood Lakes and summit Cirque Peak – and come back the same day. I was up at 4:00 am and in 3-1/2 hours I was at the Cottonwood Pass Trailhead. The weather was perfect. The trail gradually ascends to Cottonwood Pass, then descends to Chicken Spring Lake. I grabbed a quick snack by the lake, then got back on the trail. The trail becomes the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at this point and skirts around Cirque Peak.

Chicken Spring Lake
Taking a break at Chicken Spring Lake

I left the trail about a half mile past the lake and moved straight up the mountain until I reached a high ridge. From there the peak was easily visible. I moved across increasingly steep talus for the last half mile to the summit.

Cirque Peak
Moving up steel talus and scree to the summit ridge
Cirque Peak
Almost to the summit

I made the summit in about five hours. After enjoying the view for 20 minutes, I headed down. It took three hours to reach the trailhead, then I headed home. I was pretty tired, so the four-hour drive home was pretty rough – but well worth it.

Cirque Peak
The view from the Cirque Peak summit

If you’re not accustomed to going off-trail, you might want to think twice about this hike. It’s technically class 2 travel. You’ll need to use a little bit of navigation to find the trail again after your descent. If you’re by yourself or if you’re not comfortable with off-trail navigation, you might want to sit this one out. Otherwise, it is a fantastic day hike.

Elevation Profile

Cirque Peak Elevation Profile

Trail Map