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Big Margaret Lake and Coyote Cutoff trails form a loop passing Coyote, Baby, Rainbow, Big Margaret and Bathtub lakes.

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Point to Point

10,279' 3,133 m


9,388' 2,861 m


1,043' 318 m


769' 235 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Wilderness permits are required. There are trail quotas for some approaches (Fish Creek, Duck Pass, McGee Pass), but there are no quotas for trails starting from Edison Lake (Goodale Pass, Silver Pass, or the Big Margaret Lakes\Arch Rock). No campfires are allowed near any of the lakes mentioned here.


If you are coming down the Coyote Cutoff trail #27e19, shortly after that trail crosses Silver Creek (not a lot of water flow in mid to late season), there is a sign for the junction with the Silver Creek Trail #27e63 and the Big Margaret Trail #27e63. Head up a dip in the slick rock pointed to by the sign. The correct route is marked by numerous ducks (cairns).

The trail climbs steeply through the rocks for over 400 feet, but if you carefully go from one duck to the next, it is not too difficult. From the top, it passes Baby Lake on the north side. The lake is fairly shallow and surrounded by grass and bushes on three sides, with a rocky outcrop on the south side. There is a good campsite here, but the higher lakes are more scenic and have better water.

From Baby, it is a very short climb to the marshy meadow at the north end of Rainbow Lake. Camping is much better towards the middle and southern part of the lake. The trail goes around the soft mud of the meadow and along the lake's east side. It climbs more than 100 feet over a huge rock that blocks passage at the lake level. After this, we finally reach the point where there has been enough foot traffic to create a path that you can follow.

The trail drops back down to cross the meadows and a small stream on the southeast side and continues around to the right until it starts up a small gully. It is only about a 160-foot climb to Big Margaret Lake. Big Margaret is the largest and most beautiful lake in the area.The northern side of the lake has inlets, peninsulas, islands and lots of great places to camp.

The trail crosses the outlet from Big Margaret, with the rockbound Bathtub Lake only a little ways below. I did not go to it, so the descent may not be easy. From the outlet, the trail climbs 260 feet to a saddle below the Cockscomb and then drops down to Fern Lake. In early August of a dry year (2020), there was no water in the creek from Saddle Lakes.

The old Saddle Mountain Trail #27E18 heads south from here. It is unsigned, unmaintained, and not very visible. It climbs over Saddle Mountain and drops down to hit the Onion Springs OHV road a little above pack station at Edison Lake. From Fern Lake, it is only 0.8 miles down our trail to the signed junction with the Coyote Cutoff Trail and the Margaret Lakes Trail #26E18.


Shared By:

Lee Watts

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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in California


13 Views Last Month
507 Since Aug 20, 2020



Big Margaret Lake from peninsula on the north side.
Aug 21, 2020 near Mammoth…, CA
Southern section of Rainbow Lake with the Cockscomb in the right center
Aug 21, 2020 near Mammoth…, CA
Bathtub Lake
Aug 21, 2020 near Mammoth…, CA



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