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Sierras - Getaway Pack Trips

Detailed Itineraries

4 day Trip, AP  Hilton Lakes Ride from Rock Creek
Day 1: Riders head north from the pack station (10,000ft)on the trail that switchbacks above Rock Creek Lake. It’s mostly a level climb through lodgepole pine and fields of lupin and Indian paintbrush. We ride overlooking one of the most magnificent juniper groves in the west. After an hour and a half we have reached the top of the Hilton Creek/Rock Creek divide (10,600ft) overlooking the two lower Hilton Lakes. The descent down takes 30 minutes before we reach Lake #2 (9,900ft).
You’re deep in the heart of the backcountry…the ten Hilton Lakes and the immediate area are a photographer’s paradise. We will be at our lakeside camp on Davis Lake by lunch. The afternoon is free to fish, rest or explore the Davis Lake area. Favorite activities include hiking to the water falls on the west-side peninsula or heading to sand covered beaches for a swim. The hike up the stream to Lake #2 is good for fishing or exploring. Fishing is excellent for brown, rainbow and brook trout.
Days 2 and 3: Layover…days to explore the upper lakes basin. We can head up to Lake # 3. This fifty- minute ride brings us to a sub-alpine lake overlooking the entire Hilton canyon. Excellent fishing for rainbow. Often, we tie the horses up and hike up to the Lake #5, a 30 minute hike. Another hour allows you to visit Lakes #6-#9. Playing in the snowbanks is fun for those that enjoy snow in the heat of summer.
After lunch, we can ride on over to Lake #4 and enjoy the beauty of the meadows and streams near the old Indian camp. Riders generally make it back to camp by 4 pm for a shower or nap in the afternoon sun.
Day 4: In the morning, take an hour to hour and a half ride down Hilton Creek to Turk Meadow. This ride through large aspens, limber pine and Mountain Mahogany brings us to one of the largest meadows on the eastside. The broad canyon is bordered by the red colored 13,000 ft Mt. Morgan contrasting with the snow covered Mt. Huntington to the south. We head back to camp around noon to meet up with those that didn’t take the morning ride. The group rides out to arrive at the pack station by 4 PM.
Fishing is excellent in the Hilton Lakes area. Davis Lake, (Hilton Lake #1) is very large with alternating meadows and lodge pole pine forests surrounding the lake. Lots of nice campsites and fires are allowed. There are nice browns and rainbows in the lake.
The stream between Davis and Lake #2 is generally good in the early part of the summer for the rainbows. Hilton Creek about a 30-minute walk down canyon from Davis Lake is one of my favorite creeks in the mountains. All browns and it is generally quite productive. In early July, Lake #3 has good fishing for the rainbows. Fish can range from 10-15”. For lots of brookies, Lake #4 and the stream coming out of it are fun to fish. Lakes #5, #6 and #7 are accessible from a short walk above Lake #3.

3 day Trip, AP Parent and Child Ride from Rock Creek
Day 1: Riders head north from the pack station (10,000ft)on the trail that switchbacks above Rock Creek Lake. It’s mostly a level climb through lodgepole pine and fields of lupin and Indian paintbrush. We ride overlooking one of the most magnificent juniper groves in the west. After an hour and a half we have reached the top of the Hilton Creek/Rock Creek divide (10,600ft) overlooking the two lower Hilton Lakes. The descent down takes 30 minutes before we reach Lake #2 (9,900ft)
You’re deep in the heart of the backcountry…the ten Hilton Lakes and the immediate area are a photographer’s paradise. We will be at our lakeside camp on Davis Lake by lunch.
The afternoon is free to fish, rest or explore the Davis Lake area. Favorite activities include hiking to the water falls on the west-side peninsula or heading to sand covered beaches for a swim. The hike up the stream to Lake #2 is good for fishing or exploring. Fishing is excellent for brown, rainbow and brook trout.
Day 2: Layover…a day to explore the upper lakes basin. Mid-morning, the group heads up to Lake # 3. This fifty- minute ride brings us to a sub-alpine lake overlooking the entire Hilton canyon. Excellent fishing for rainbow. Often, we tie the horses up and hike up to the Lake #5, a 30 minute hike. Another hour allows you to visit Lakes #6-#9. Playing in the snowbanks is fun for those that enjoy snow in the heat of summer. After lunch, ride on over to Lake #4 and enjoy the beauty of the meadows and streams near the old Indian camp. Riders generally make it back to camp by 4 pm for a shower or nap in the afternoon sun.
Day 3: In the morning, take an hour to hour and a half ride down Hilton Creek to Turk Meadow. This ride through large aspens, limber pine and Mountain Mahogeny brings us to one of the largest meadows on the eastside. The broad canyon is bordered by the red colored 13,000 ft Mt. Morgan contrasting with the snow covered Mt. Huntington to the south. We head back to camp around noon to meet up with those that didn’t take the morning ride. The group rides out to arrive at the pack station by 4 PM.
Fishing is excellent in the Hilton Lakes area. Davis Lake, (Hilton Lake #1) is very large with alternating meadows and lodge pole pine forests surrounding the lake. Lots of nice campsites and fires are allowed. There are nice browns and rainbows in the lake.
The stream between Davis and Lake #2 is generally good in the early part of the summer for the rainbows. Hilton Creek about a 30-minute walk down canyon from Davis Lake is one of my favorite creeks in the mountains. All browns and it is generally quite productive.
In early July, Lake #3 has good fishing for the rainbows. Fish can range from 10-15”. For lots of brookies, Lake #4 and the stream coming out of it are fun to fish. Lakes #5, #6 and #7 are accessible from a short walk above Lake #3.
PLEASE NOTE:   The camp for this ride may be moved to the East Fork of Rock Creek near Dorothy Lake.


4 day Trip, AP  Fourth of July Ride from Rock Creek
Day 1: Riders head north from the pack station (10,000ft)on the trail that switchbacks above Rock Creek Lake. It’s mostly a level climb through lodgepole pine and fields of lupin and Indian paintbrush. We ride overlooking one of the most magnificent juniper groves in the west. After an hour and a half we have reached the top of the Hilton Creek/Rock Creek divide (10,600ft) overlooking the two lower Hilton Lakes. The descent down takes 30 minutes before we reach Lake #2 (9,900ft)
You’re deep in the heart of the backcountry…the ten Hilton Lakes and the immediate areas are a photographer’s paradise. We will be at our lakeside camp on Davis Lake by lunch.
The afternoon is free to fish, rest or explore the Davis Lake area. Favorite activities include hiking to the waterfalls on the west-side peninsula or heading to sand covered beaches for a swim. The hike up the stream to Lake #2 is good for fishing or exploring. Fishing is excellent for brown, rainbow and brook trout.
Day 2 & 3: Layover…a day to explore the upper lakes basin. Mid-morning, the group heads up to Lake # 3. This fifty minute ride brings us to a sub-alpine lake overlooking the entire Hilton canyon. Excellent fishing for rainbow. Often, we tie the horses up and hike up to the Lake #5, a 30 minute hike. Another hour allows you to visit Lakes #6-#9. Playing in the snowbanks is fun for those that enjoy snow in the heat of summer.
After lunch, ride on over to Lake #4 and enjoy the beauty of the meadows and streams near the old Indian camp. Riders generally make it back to camp by 4 pm for a shower or nap in the afternoon sun.
Day 4: In the morning, take an hour to hour and a half ride down Hilton Creek to Turk Meadow. This ride through large aspens, limber pine and Mountain Mahogeny brings us to one of the largest meadows on the eastside. The broad canyon is bordered by the red colored 13,000 ft Mt. Morgan contrasting with the snow covered Mt. Huntington to the south. We head back to camp around noon to meet up with those that didn’t take the morning ride. The group rides out to arrive at the pack station by 4 PM.
Fishing is excellent in the Hilton Lakes area and for a trip of three to four days this is my suggestion. Davis Lake, (Hilton Lake #1) is very large with alternating meadows and lodge pole pine forests surrounding the lake. Lots of nice campsites and fires are allowed. There are nice browns and rainbows in the lake.
The stream between Davis and Lake #2 is generally good in the early part of the summer for the rainbows. Hilton Creek about a 30-minute walk down canyon from Davis Lake is one of my favorite creeks in the mountains. All browns and it is generally quite productive.
In early July, Lake #3 has good fishing for the rainbows. Fish can range from 10-15”. For lots of brookies, Lake #4 and the stream coming out of it are fun to fish. Lakes #5, #6 and #7 are accessible from a short walk above Lake #3.

4 day Trip, AP  Kern Peak Trail from Horseshoe Meadow
Meet at Horseshoe Meadows 7 AM on Friday, July 4. Depart from Horseshoe Meadows and travel to Tunnel Meadows for two nights. Layover days include rides to the top of Kern Peak and to Little Whitney Meadows. Return to Horseshoe.
OUTSTANDING GOLDEN TROUT FISHING.

Day 1: HSM to South Fork Kern
Day 2: South Fork Kern to Kern Peak Stringer
Day 3: Ride to top of Kern Peak
Day 4: Kern Peak Stringer to Horseshoe Meadows.

5 day Trip, AP Family Campfire Trip from Rock Creek
Enjoy 5 days in the wilderness! This trip take you over the Mono Pass to our base camp on Mono Creek. Utilize your 4th of July holiday and the weekend to make a 5 day vacation using only 2 days of your "vacation time". Our cooks are among the best in the business. You will enjoy freshly prepared breakfast and dinner each day. Pack a sack lunch from the many choices available each morning - and you are set to hike, fish, ride or just relax for the rest of the day. The horses and wranglers are ready for your day trips to the surrounding lakes, streams and points of interest. The evening campfire is always relaxing. Take a REAL vacation from the work-a-day world! Join us at the campfire.

5 day Trip, AP John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadows
This is a leisurely trip with modest moves between camps. Travel through scenic subalpine basins and enjoy forested camps every night beneath the stars. An excellent introductory trail ride for first-time guests or those with only a few days vacation. The wildflowers are in full bloom and hopefully we will see deer, marmots, coyotes and a multitude of High Sierra birds.

5 day Trip, AP August Special  from Rock Creek
Day 1: Rock Creek to Mono Creek (9 miles)
Leaving Rock Creek Pack Station (10,000 ft.), our route follows the Mono Pass Trail which ascends Mt. Starr to Mono Pass (12,000 ft.). During the first part of this section one has a panoramic view of Little Lakes Valley, an area with more than twenty lakes framed by towering mountains including Mt. Morgan(13,748), Bear Creek Spire(13,705), Mt. Dade and Mt. Abbott. The Mono Pass trail is one of the oldest routes through the Sierra and was used by Native Americans many years before the first man came through which was the California Geological Survey in the early 1860’s. During this climb to Mono Pass, the trail goes through meadows with scattered limber pine and wild flowers, crosses a few small creeks and then climbs above timberline. At all times there is an unrestricted view of the overwhelming landscape.
After crossing the pass…. a barren landscape…the route starts an easy descent going by Summit Lake; immediately afterwards, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins Basin and the northern Sierra range comes into view. The trail proceeds down past Trail Lake to Gold Creek where we enter the heavier timber and headwaters of Mono Creek alongside which we travel through a long valley with green meadows, wild flowers, stretches of lodge-pole pine, aspen thickets continually broken by small feeder creeks coming from tributary watersheds. The sounds of the Clarke nutcracker break the silence of the wilderness.
We make camp near the confluence of one of the many streams cascading into Mono Creek. Majestic Mono Rock towers over the canyon to the south.
There are a series of meadows and camping areas from Fourth Recess to Hopkins Meadow. This area was once the center of the Native American summer trading camps.
Day 2: Third Recess and Mono Creek to Silver Pass Meadow (10 miles)
Traveling west to the John Muir Trail, ride through several life zones with groves of lodge pole pine giving way to the Jeffrey and Juniper Pine Forest. The trail parallels Mono Creek cascading to the side of the route. There are a wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees as we descend to the large White Fir forest and tall aspens of First Recess.
A short jaunt over a ridge and the Mono Creek Trail meets the John Muir Trail (Pacific Crest Trail). Going up the North Fork of Mono Creek there are spectacular stands of larkspur, white columbine and tiger lily as we enter Pocket Meadow. The trail zigzags up beneath the tumbling falls coming from Silver Pass Lake.
Camp is in a sheltered meadow with a winding creek that abruptly ends at the granite cliffs overlooking Pocket Meadow. The panoramic views of the mountains to the south make this a favorite camp of those familiar with the John Muir Trail.
Day 3: Silver Pass Meadow to Cascade Valley (11 miles)
The trail follows the North Fork of Mono Creek through meadows as we climb to Silver Pass Lake. The trail skirts the eastside of the lake with a gradual ascent to the pass. The views to the south towards Bear Ridge, Volcanic Nob, Selden Pass and Seven Gables is one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Sierra.
To the north, the wide expanse of Fish Creek, the North Fork of the San Joaquin River, the Minarets and southern border of the Yosemite are in view once we reach to the top of Silver Pass (10,900ft). The trail switchbacks down a wide granite and sub-alpine meadow bowl with five lakes in view. We descend to Upper Fish Creek through a forest of Hemlocks, Firs and lodge pole pine past small brooks and lush meadows.
The last two miles follows close to Fish Creek…many waterfalls and beautiful pools as we go down canyon through several meadows. Cascade Valley is an area of vast lush meadows. The name comes from being able to hear Minnow and Purple Creeks cascading into the valley to join Fish Creek.
Day 4: Layover in Cascade Valley
Fish Creek is a wonderful place to spend the day fishing or exploring Cascade Valley. The large pools are excellent for fishing. Iva Belle Hot Springs is a two hour ride down canyon at the head of Fish Valley. This is a beautiful ride alongside of Fish Creek through fields of aspens, wild flowers and large Junipers and Firs.
The Minnow Creek Trail climbs up the west side of the canyon and after an hour the wide expansive Jackson Meadow comes into view. After riding through this beautiful meadow with numerous streams and islands of trees and sandbars…we have a choice of heading to Grassy or Olive Lake.
Olive Lake is an hour ride through meadows beneath the slick granite cliffs below Peter Pande Lake. Excellent fishing for rainbow and plenty of lakes up canyon to explore. Grassy Lake is a thirty minute ride from Jackson Meadow and is one of the jewels of the Sierra with a beautiful meadow to the south with the permanent snow fields of the Silver Divide framed in the background.
Day 5: Cascade Valley to Mammoth (10 miles)
We switchback up 1500 ft. to Purple Lake to rejoin the John Muir Trail. The trail follows the ridge that overlooks Fish Creek and the San Joaquin River. Spectacular views back of the Silver Divide, Jackson Meadow and northwest of the North Fork of the San Joaquin River. The trail breaks west through small meadows in a Hemlock Forest as we climb to Duck Lake.
We have lunch before rejoining the trail that follows up and around Duck Lake to Duck Pass (11,000). The trail to the roadhead descends 1800 ft. past many lakes with Mammoth Mountain and the wide expanses of the volcanic region of the eastern sierra in view to the north.
A van meets us to take us back to the pack station. Generally we arrive at Rock Creek around 5 PM.

5 day Trip, AP Silver Divide Trail from Rock Creek
Day 1: Rock Creek Pack Station to Mono Creek (9 miles)
Leaving Rock Creek Pack Station (10,000 ft.), our route follows the Mono Pass Trail which ascends Mt. Starr to Mono Pass (12,000 ft.). During the first part of this section one has a panoramic view of Little Lakes Valley, an area with more than twenty lakes framed by towering mountains including Mt. Morgan(13,748), Bear Creek Spire(13,705), Mt. Dade and Mt. Abbott.
The Mono Pass trail is one of the oldest routes through the Sierra and was used by Native Americans many years before the first man came through which was the California Geological Survey in the early 1860’s. During this climb to Mono Pass, the trail goes through meadows with scattered limber pine and wild flowers, crosses a few small creeks and then climbs above timberline. At all times there is an unrestricted view of the overwhelming landscape.
The flowers and trees of the east slope of the Sierra Nevada represent a different life zone than the westside. The lodge pole pine and aspen forest gives way to the white bark pine sub-alpine area. Lupine, Indian Paint Brush, white phlox, mustard and mountain mint cover the landscape as we travel to the top of Mono Pass. It is not uncommon to see families of marmots and the occasional coyote.
After crossing the pass…. a barren landscape…the route starts an easy descent going by Summit Lake; immediately afterwards, Pioneer Basin, Hopkins Basin and the northern Sierra range comes into view. The trail proceeds down past Trail Lake to Gold Creek where we enter the heavier timber and headwaters of Mono Creek alongside which we travel through a long valley with green meadows, wild flowers, stretches of lodge-pole pine, aspen thickets continually broken by small feeder creeks coming from tributary watersheds. The sounds of the Clarke nutcracker break the silence of the wilderness.
We make camp near the confluence of one of the many streams cascading into Mono Creek. Majestic Mono Rock towers over the canyon to the south. There are a series of meadows and camping areas from Fourth Recess to Hopkins Meadow. This area was once the center of the Native American summer trading camps.
Layover Day ---Great areas to explore from a central camp alongside of Mono Creek. Side trips available to Third Recess Lake, Fourth Recess Lake, Hopkins Basin and Pioneer Basin.
Exploring Hopkins Basin…to Lower Hopkins Creek, which is a climb, is a one hour ride from the confluence of Mono Creek and Third Recess Creek. Once at the meadow, there is a trail that climbs straight up to Lower Hopkins Lake…about a 20-minute ride. Lower Hopkins Lake is the most beautiful lake in the Sierra – it sits on a high shelf, you would never know it’s there unless you have been there before. To make a circle route, continue up the inlet stream and drop over a small hill to Hopkins Creek. The green meadows, winding crystal blue creek winding through the meadow and the red talus slopes of Red Slate Mountain make Hopkins Pass one of the most colorful vista points of the trip. The views looking south over the Recesses are awesome. Carpets of shooting stars, buttercups and yellow flowers alternate with the lush meadows dotted by gushing springs.
Third Recess…in easy stages, Third Recess Lake is a forty-minute hike or ride. This canyon opens up south of camp and provides a remote basin to explore.
Fourth Recess Lake is a thirty-minute trek up Mono Creek and Fourth Recess Creek. This is an easy hike for those not wanting to spend much time on the trail.
Day 3: Third Recess and Mono Creek to Silver Pass Meadow (10 miles)
Traveling west to the John Muir Trail, ride through several life zones with groves of lodge pole pine giving way to the Jeffrey and Juniper Pine Forest. The trail parallels Mono Creek cascading to the side of the route. There are a wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees as we descend to the large White Fir forest and tall aspens of First Recess. A short jaunt over a ridge and the Mono Creek Trail meets the John Muir Trail (Pacific Crest Trail). Going up the North Fork of Mono Creek there are spectacular stands of larkspur, white columbine and tiger lily as we enter Pocket Meadow. The trail zigzags up beneath the tumbling falls coming from Silver Pass Lake. Camp is in a sheltered meadow with a winding creek that abruptly ends at the granite cliffs overlooking Pocket Meadow. The panoramic views of the mountains to the south make this a favorite camp of those familiar with the John Muir Trail.
Day 4: Silver Pass Meadow to Cascade Valley (11 miles)
The trail follows the North Fork of Mono Creek through meadows as we climb to Silver Pass Lake. The trail skirts the eastside of the lake with a gradual ascent to the pass. The views to the south towards Bear Ridge, Volcanic Nob, Selden Pass and Seven Gables is one of the most beautiful panoramas in the Sierra. To the north, the wide expanse of Fish Creek, the North Fork of the San Joaquin River, the Minarets and southern border of the Yosemite are in view once we reach to the top of Silver Pass (10,900ft). The trail switchbacks down a wide granite and sub-alpine meadow bowl with five lakes in view. We descend to Upper Fish Creek through a forest of Hemlocks, Firs and lodge pole pine past small brooks and lush meadows.
The last two miles follows close to Fish Creek…many waterfalls and beautiful pools as we go down canyon through several meadows. Cascade Valley is an area of vast lush meadows. The name comes from being able to hear Minnow and Purple Creeks cascading into the valley to join Fish Creek.
Day 5: Cascade Valley to Mammoth (10 miles)
We switchback up 1500 ft. to Purple Lake to rejoin the John Muir Trail. The trail follows the ridge that overlooks Fish Creek and the San Joaquin River. Spectacular views back of the Silver Divide, Jackson Meadow and northwest of the North Fork of the San Joaquin River. The trail breaks west through small meadows in a Hemlock Forest as we climb to Duck Lake. We have lunch before rejoining the trail that follows up and around Duck Lake to Duck Pass (11,000). The trail to the roadhead descends 1800 ft. past many lakes with Mammoth Mountain and the wide expanses of the volcanic region of the eastern sierra in view to the north.
A van meets us to take us back to the pack station. Generally we arrive at Rock Creek around 5 PM.


3 day Trip, AP   Dorothy Lake Trail from Rock Creek
A leisurely trail ride to the lakes and streams of the East Fork of Rock Creek. Camp at Dorothy Lake gives easy access to Catherine, Buck, Francis, Deer and Dam lakes. The alternating forest, meadows and streams of the Tamarack Basin makes this the ideal trip for those seeking wilderness seculsion without a long ride to camp.

3 day Trip, AP   Fall Color Trail from Rock Creek
A leisurely trail ride to the lakes and streams of the East Fork of Rock Creek. Our camp at Dorothy Lake provides easy access to Catherine, Buck, Francis, Deer and Dam lakes. The Tamarack Basin provides alternating forest, meadows and streams - ideal for those seeking wilderness seclusion without a long ride to camp.


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John Muir Getaway Pack Trips
Tour Code: RTCA03
4 days / 3 nights ~$645.00
Dates: Jun-Sept

Trip Rating :
Difficulty : Riding Level (Click for legend) Lodging: Standard
Introduction
Day to Day Itinerary
Rates | Dates
Accomodation
Detailed Itineraries
Tack: Western
Horses: Mostly quarterhorse mix
Pace: 4-7 hours per day - mostly at a walk

Airport: Mammoth Lakes / Reno
Location on Google Map
Image Gallery
Image Slide Show
Customer Trip Rating
Climate
What To Bring


Riding Level Explained
A Beginner
Beginner A rider who has limited experience, is unable to post the trot and does not canter.
B Novice
Novice A rider who is capable of mounting and dismounting unassisted, capable of applying basic aids, comfortable and in control at the walk, moderate length posting trots, and short canters.
C Intermediate
Intermediate A rider who has a firm seat, is confident and in control at all paces (including posting trots, two point canters and gallops), but does not ride regularly.
D Strong Intermediate
Strong Intermediate An intermediate rider who is currently riding regularly and is comfortable in the saddle for at least 6 hours per day.
E Advanced
All of the above, plus an independent seat, soft hands, and capable of handling a spirited horse in open country.
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