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Sierras - Wilderness Trips

Detailed Itineraries



Sample Itinerary: Mono Creek Trail from Rock Creek (not offered in 2021) - subject to changes

Day 1: Rock Creek to Mono Creek
Leaving the 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 ft), Bear Creek Spire (13,705 ft), Mt. Dade and Mt. Abbott. 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, 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, continually broken by small feeder creeks coming from tributary watersheds. Imposing Mono Rock towers over the valley as we head down Mono Creek.
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.
Riding approx. 5.5 hours ( about 10 miles)
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Mono Creek


Day 2: 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 1 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 – if sets 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 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.
Pioneer Basin is a one hour ride to Mud Lake (Pioneer Lake #1). This wide-open basin has six lakes with Golden, Rainbow and Brook trout. An ideal day trip is to follow the streams and meadows to Lake #4, cross country over to Lake #5 and circle the basin following the shores of Lake #3, #2A and Lake #2. This sub-alpine region represents the finest in high mountain meadows, flowers and panoramic views of the Sierra.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Mono Creek


Day 3: Hopkins & Mono to First Recess
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. We head down for lunch at a secluded camp overlooking a lake beneath the smooth polish granite cliffs of this narrow valley of lower Mono Creek canyon. We commonly see bears, eagles and deer in the meadow visible from the ridge where we camp. Outstanding fishing for golden trout in Mono Creek near First Recess.
Riding approx. 3 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at First recess


Day 4: First Recess to Camp near Third Recess and Mono Creek
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Third recess


Day 5: Layover
Beautiful meadows and a quiet pond invite a leisurely hike. Alternatively, you can ride to one of the few remaining log cabins in the wilderness. A day ride to Second Recess and fishing in Mills Creek are options, as well. Outstanding golden trout are waiting for you in Mills Creek and in Mono Creek, near camp.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Third recess


Day 6: Mono Creek to Rock Creek Pack Station
The ride up Gold Creek and back to Mono Pass seems easier on the way home. Lunch at Trail Lake. The views of Abbott, Dade, Mills and Bear Creek Spire frame the view as we crest Mono Pass and turn the corner to view the countless lakes in Upper Rock Creek. The views of Wheeler Ridge, Rock Creek Lake and Boundry Peak are in view as the trail winds its way alongside the westside of the canyon. 
Riding approx. 5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

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Sample Itinerary: Northern Yosemite -
subject to changes

Day 1: Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulen
We ride north on the Pacific Crest Trail from the largest meadows in Yosemite. The trail follows the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. The cascades and water falls as we head to Glen Aulin make this one of the most scenic rides in the Sierra.
Riding approx. 4 hours
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Glen Aulen


Day 2: Cold Canyon to Matterhorn Canyon
The morning ride goes through meadows and alternating forest before we switchback through the Hemlock Forest to reach Virginia Canyon. We travel through wildflowers, meadows and small lakes before reaching the deep Matterhorn Canyon. The deep granite canyon has beautiful campsites.
Riding approx. 4 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Matterhorn Canyon


Day 3: Matterhorn Canyon to Smedberg Lake or Neal Meadow
This remote part of Yosemite has beautiful vistas of glacial polished mountains, lush meadows and wildflowers. We climb to the top of Benson Pass and meander down to Smedberg Lake. Volunteer Peak frames the panoramic view to the west. Rodgers and Neal Lake are only a short ride from the lake. The group will camp to be able to enjoy the excellent fishing and many ponds, lakes and streams to enjoy for the two nights.
Riding approx. 3 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Smedberg Lake or Neal Meadow


Day 4: Layover Day
Great fishing for large rainbows. There are many secluded meadows and places to explore from camp.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Smedberg Lake or Neal Meadow


Day 5: Smedberg Lake to Lower Kerrick Meadow
We descend to Benson Lake and climb up through the manzanita to Seavy Pass. This is an enchanting area of small ponds, streams and trees. At Kerrick Creek the trail heads east to a camp in Kerrick Canyon. Small granite domes rise out of the canyon and it seems like a miniature Yosemite Valley.
Riding approx. 5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Lower Kerrick Meadow


Day 6: Lower Kerrick Canyon to camp near Upper Kerrick
The trail winds up through a series of meadows to a camp near the crest of the Sierra. Once at camp spend the afternoon at Pealer Lake or exploring the Buckeye Pass area.
Riding approx. 2 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Lower Kerrick Meadow


Day 7: Upper Kerrick Canyon to Twin Lakes
We exit Yosemite National Park and wind our way down to Twin Lakes.
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

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Sample Itinerary: Kern River & Golden Trout -
subject to changes

Day 1: Horseshoe Meadows to Little Whitney Meadow
Guests meet at Cottonwood Pack Station for gear drop off, breakfast and trip orientation. After breakfast our crew will introduce you to your surefooted riding animal (horse or mule) and teach you how to safely ride in the backcountry. Shortly after saddling up we hit the trail; turning our backs on civilization and entering the vast Golden Trout Wilderness. Settling into stride with our animal we traverse the massive Horseshoe Meadow which sits below Trail Pass (10,500 ft), the highest point of our journey. We switchback through groves of ancient Foxtail Pines climbing toward Trail Pass where we will be rewarded with stunning views of the Golden Trout Wilderness. We cross the Pacific Crest Trail at the top of the pass then switchback down towards Mulkey Meadow for lunch. From here, relatively flat single track trails cut through sprawling meadows allowing riders to appreciate the isolated beauty of the Golden Trout Wilderness. We follow Golden Trout Creek through Tunnel Meadow to our first night. There will be time to fish for brightly colored golden trout in their native waters before dinner. We enjoy a hearty meal around a warm campfire while watching our horses and mules graze in the nearby meadow.
Riding approx. 14.5 miles
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Little Whitney Meadow


Day 2: Little Whitney Meadow to Kern River
Packers and wranglers gather the stock at first light while our cook serves hot coffee and breakfast around the campfire. After breakfast, guests will have time to fish while the packers break down camp and load the mules. Shortly after leaving Big Whitney Meadow we drop off the Kern Plateau and begin our descent towards the Kern River. We cross the picturesque Natural Bridge then continue down into the canyon below. The suspension bridge crossing the waters of the Kern marks the entrance to Sequoia National Park; our backcountry home for the next few days. A scenic hour of riding upriver leads us to camp situated along the bank of the Kern. Guests will have the opportunity to make some casts before dinner and hopefully catch a much sought-after Kern River Rainbow. We will enjoy another delicious backcountry meal around the campfire while listening to the Kern’s rushing water below camp.
Riding approx. 10 miles
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp near Kern River


Day 3: Layover
A layover day allows guests to fish and explore the world class fishery surrounding camp. Genetic testing has proven the fish living in these waters are the purest strains of the Kern River Rainbow, an isolated subspecies of rainbow trout and close relative of the Golden Trout. Due the remote location and difficult access to this section of the Kern, the river’s many pools hold large rainbows eager to bite. Guests may spend the day fishing or relaxing around camp enjoying the amazing setting. Tonight’s dinner will surely be full of fish stories and sharing pictures of the day’s catch.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp near Kern River


Day 4: Layover
An additional layover day allows guests to explore the river farther upstream from camp. We will ride above the junction of Rattlesnake Creek and spend the day fishing excellent pocket water and glassy runs near Upper Funston Meadow. Those seeking a more relaxing day may continue riding to the Kern River Hot Springs to soak in the hot pools before returning to camp for dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp near Kern River


Day 5: Kern River to Little Whitney Meadow
Today we climb out of the Kern River Canyon and return to our first night’s camp at Little Whitney. Guest may spend the afternoon stretching their legs and exploring the rustic cabins of the historical Little Whitney Cow Camp or fishing for Golden Trout before dinner.
Riding approx. 10 miles
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Little Whitney Meadow


Day 6: Layover
We spend the layover day riding to nearby Volcano Meadow and fishing the meandering waters of Volcano Creek. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife “the Volcanic Creek strain of California golden trout is considered to be the most genetically pure population within the native range.” This infrequently visited area of the Golden Trout Wilderness offers spectacular views and a high probability of wildlife sightings. Due to the lack of visitors and fishing pressure, the beautiful Goldens of Volcano Creek are plentiful and willing to bite. We spend our last night enjoying the star filled sky above camp and sharing stories around the campfire.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Little Whitney Meadow


Day 7: Little Whitney Meadow to Horseshoe Meadows
Unfortunately, our adventure must come to an end and we return to the pack station at Horseshoe Meadows. While riding through the lush green meadows leading back to Trail Pass, we can’t help but wish to spend another week on the trail. Reflecting on our journey, we have a new appreciation of what inspired John Muir to say “Going to the mountains is going home."
Riding approx. 14.5 miles
Meals included: Breakfast

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Sample Itinerary: Whitney Trail Ride - subject to changes 

Day 1: Horseshoe Meadow to Lower Rock Creek
Day 2: Layover
Day 3: Lower Rock Creek to Guitar Lake
Day 4: Option to climb Mt. Whitney and back to Crabtree/Sandy Meadow
Day 5: To Rock Creek
Day 6: Out to Horseshoe Meadow

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Sample Itinerary: Silver Pass Trail Ride (in July); Fish Creek Trail Ride (in September) -
subject to changes

Day 1: Pack Station to Mono Creek
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 white 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.
Riding approx. 9 miles
Meals included: Dinner
Camp at Mono Creek


Day 2: 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 40-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.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Mono Creek


Day 3: Third Recess and Mono Creek to Silver Pass Meadow
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.
Riding approx. 10 miles
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp at Silver Pass Meadow


Day 4: Silver Pass Meadow to Cascade Valley
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.
Riding approx. 11 miles
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp in Cascade Valley


Day 5: Layover Day
The layover day ride will head to Grassy Lake. Ride up Minaret Creek past Jackson Meadow to enjoy a day of fishing or swimming.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camp in Cascade Valley


Day 6: Cascade Valley to Mammoth Mountain 
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 around 5 PM.
Riding approx. 10 miles
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

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High Sierras Wilderness Pack Trips
Tour Code: RTCA10
7 days / 6 nights ~$2,150.00
Dates: Aug-Sept

Trip Rating :
Difficulty : Riding Level (Click for legend) Lodging: Basic
Introduction
Day to Day Itinerary
Rates | Dates
Accomodation
Detailed Itineraries
Tack: Western
Horses: Mostly quarterhorse mix
Pace: between 2 to 6 hours per day - mostly ...
Walk,
Airport: Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH)
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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