The Coyote Cutoff

The Hockett Trail provided a further advantage, which was utilized more and more as time went on. This feature was a cutoff over Coyote Pass that shortened the trip across the Sierra substantially.

The Hockett Trail was blazed during the Civil War, but to fight another war, against the Indians of Owens Valley. This is why it was also called the Fort Independence Trail. Originally, this trail was conceived for pack trains rather than horsemen and hikers, so it skirted around the Great Western Divide rather than crossing the great barrier. The route, however, made a crossing of the Great Western Divide feasible, not by way of rocky ridges, but by ascending the forested slopes along Rifle Creek.

Though this cutoff was a difficult one, it was not particularly hazardous, and was known to be used commonly by horsemen as late as the 1970s.