Start at the trailhead just north of the Upper Cottonwood Lake dam. Follow the trail up a short climb to where it intersects with the Cottonwood Lake Loop Trail, stay to the right and follow this trail down several switchbacks to where it meets Cottonwood Creek. When you reach the creek, follow the trail downstream approximately 3.8 miles and 900 vertical feet of gradual descent to the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead. The trail consists of singletrack constructed on an old road bed. It isn't too steep, but should still provide a little excitement where it crosses the creek in a few places and also where it narrows to traverse steep slopes adjacent to the creek.
The trail is a great out and back ride, or can be ridden as a loop when combined with the gravel road that travels between Upper and Lower Cottonwood Lakes.