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Sierras - Wilderness Trips

Detailed Itineraries

7 day trip, AP Lake of the Lone Indian from Rock Creek

Day 1: Rock Creek Pack Station to Mono Creek (9miles)
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.

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 – 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…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. 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.

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 Jackson Meadow ( 8 miles)
It is a moderate 1500 ft climb to Silver Pass through high mountain meadows and spectacular unobstructed views of the Sierra to the south. Bear Creek, Selden Pass and the northern boarder of Kings Canyon National Park open up as we reach the summit of Silver Pass (10,800 ft). The northern view is of the Minarets, Mt. Ritter and Banner and the peaks that form the southern border of Yosemite National Park Riders meander down through several lakes and turn west to the Lake of the Lone Indian. It is a short climb until we enter the secluded lakes of the Silver Divide region. Travel through meadows and streams to reach Grassy Lake. Camp will be near a series of meadows and streams that join Minnow Creek from Olive, Grassy, and Wilbur Mae Lakes.

Days 5 & 6: Layover Days.
Explore Olive Lake Basin, Grassy Lake, Wilbur Mae and Lake Peter Pande.
Camp is located in an isolated section of the Sierra on one of the largest meadows is in the central Sierra. It is an hour trip to Olive Lake through meadows, forest and streams. Spectacular waterfalls cascade off the granite canyon from Peter Pande Lake. For those looking for a full day hike, a knap sack trail follows west of Olive Lake past a series of lakes that allows you to circle back to camp past Peter Pande Lake. Great riding through meadows, forests to a wide variety of lakes near camp. Olive Lake is less than an hour and a half and a favorite trip is up canyon past Grassy Lake and climbing over to spend the day at Peter Pande.
Fishing is outstanding from the streams in the meadows near camp to unsurpassed lake fishing. It would take five days to visit the different lakes near camp.

Day 7: Jackson Meadow to Mammoth Lakes (13 miles)
Head north on the Minnow Creek Trail. It is a gradual descent until we turn east to drop into Cascade Valley. Fish Creek is a large tributary of the San Joaquin River and we ford the creek in a beautiful meadow. We switchback up 1500 ft. to Purple Lake. The views of the creeks tumbling into Cascade Valley answer the question of how this region was named. We climb gradually to follow 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.

6 day Trip, AP Mono Creek Trail from Rock Creek

Day 1:
Rock Creek to Mono Creek (10 miles…5½ hours riding)
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. 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.

Day 2: Layover Day
Great areas to explore from a central camp alongside of Mono Creek. Side trips available to Hopkins Basin, Pioneer Basin and First Recess. 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 – 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.
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.

Day 3:   Hopkins & Mono to First Recess (3 hour ride)
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.

Day 4: First Recess to Camp near Third Recess and Mono Creek

Day 5: Layover at First Recess
Beautiful meadows and a quiet pond invite a leisurely hike. Or 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.

Day 6: Mono Creek to Rock Creek Pack Station ( 5 hour ride)
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. 

7 day trip, AP  Northern Yosemite

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. Estimated riding four hours.

 

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. Estimated riding time 4 hours.

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. Estimated riding time 3 hours.

Day 4: Layover Day
Great fishing for large rainbows. There are many secluded meadows and places to explore from camp.

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. Estimated riding time 5 hours.

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. Estimated riding time 2 hours.

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

 

 


5 day trip, AP  Tuolumne Meadows Trail Ride


If you are a hiker, you should be able to walk ten miles, 1,500’ elevation gain and 2,500’ loss. You should acclimate to 8,000’ to 10,000’ for 1-3 days prior to the trip.

 

Distance: 25.4 miles, 3,400 feet total gain and 4,550 feet loss on moving days.

Elevation Profile:

 
This trip passes many lakes and creeks, so available drinking water is not a problem in normal water conditions. Be prepared for creek crossings. Most of the crossings can be made on rocks or logs

Day 1: Virginia Lakes to Virginia Canyon
9.2 miles, 1,550’ gain, 2,650’ loss
The trail follows the north side of Blue Lake and then climbs fairly steeply in open forest to Cooney Lake in the first mile. The trail climbs 750’ past the Frog Lakes on shale slopes to a saddle at mile 2.6. The rocky path descends steeply to the Green Lake Trail junction at mile four. Turn left at the junction toward Summit Lake and climb 170’ in 0.4 miles to the lake. The trail drops steeply as it enters Yosemite National Park, turning into a gentle descent down through Virginia Canyon after the junction to Virginia Pass. The path down the canyon is through lodgepoles and meadows, with areas of trees downed by avalanches during high snow years. Camp is about 3.2 miles down canyon from the Virginia Pass junction. Virginia Canyon is a destination in itself, but two layover days allow day trips to the beautiful Miller Lake and McCabe Lakes.

Day 2: 9.7 miles, 800’ gain, 1,700’ loss
Follow the trail down to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at mile 0.8. Turn left, crossing Return Creek and McCabe Creek to climb 570’ in one mile to the McCabe Lakes junction. Continue right to follow the PCT through open forest to a long meadow at mile four and then reinter the forest to continue the descent to the Tuolumne River at Glen Aulin. Leave the PCT before crossing the bridge, at mile 8.8, following signs toward Waterwheel Falls. A very brief climb offers a beautiful view down the canyon. Be sure to look behind you for views of Tuolumne Falls and Wolf Cascade. The trail drops along a cascade to follow a serene section of the Tuolumne River for a mile to our camp. Plan to follow the Tuolumne River to Waterwheel Falls on the layover day.

Day 3: 6.5 miles, 1,050’ gain, 200’ loss Return to Glen Aulin, turning right at mile 0.9 to follow the PCT toward Tuolumne Meadows. Ignore the wooden bridge crossing Cold Creek immediately to your left that goes to the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. Continue straight to cross the Tuolumne River on a metal bridge and then climb steeply for 0.2 miles to the May Lake junction. Continue left to follow the PCT another 0.2 miles to the base of Tuolumne Falls. Ignore your last-day urge to rush to the trailhead and leave the trail at the base of the falls to spend some time enjoying the power of the water. The trail swings away from the river twice, returning after a quarter mile to a series of cascades before crossing the river on a bridge at mile 2.2. A brief climb up a riprapped trail brings you to a magnificent view of northern Yosemite. Watch for the Little Devil’s Postpile on the opposite side of the river as you leave the viewpoint. The path enters the forest, emerging at times to cross the polished rock at the base of a dome or touch the river with views of the Cathedral Range across the meadow. The trail crosses Dingley Creek at mile 3.7 and Delaney Creek at mile 5.3. A junction just past the Delaney Creek crossing shows the stables to the left and the PCT to the right. Most hikers follow the PCT, passing the Soda Springs connector, mile 5.9, and the John Muir Trail (JMT) junction, mile 6.1, before following a trail to the left to the stables parking lot, mile 6.2. If you pass through a gate and arrive at a gravel road, you missed the side trail. Follow the road to the left to the stable parking lot. Plan to meet the pack station driver at 1:00 to return to the Virginia Lakes Pack Outfit station.

LAYOVER DAY TRIPS AVAILABLE
Miller Lake
8.6 miles round trip / 4.3 miles, 1,300’ gain, 500’ loss to Miller Lake
The day starts with a gentle descent down Virginia Canyon to the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail at mile 0.8. The trail to the right continues down the canyon before climbing 1,000’ fairly steeply up Spiller Creek to a saddle at mile 4.6. Wonderful views to the west open up as the trail undulates another 1.4 miles to Miller Lake. The lake is shallow which makes it a good swimming lake. There are wonderful views across the canyon of the Tuolumne River as far as the Cathedral Range to the south from near the outlet of the lake or the low dome to the west of the lake. Return to camp by the same route.

McCabe Lakes
6.8 miles round trip / 3.4 miles, 1,300’ gain, 150’ loss to Lower McCabe Lake
Follow the trail down to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at mile 0.8. Turn left, crossing Return Creek and McCabe Creek and then climb 570’ through forest in one mile to the McCabe Lakes junction. Follow the trail to the left, climbing an additional 730’ in 1.5 miles to the lake.

Waterwheel Falls
4.4 miles round trip / 2.2 miles, 100’ gain, 1,100’ loss to Waterwheel Falls
The day starts on a flat trail, cutting off bends in the river to arrive at the top of California Falls at mile 0.6. The trail drops beside the falls for 200’ in 0.2 miles and then follows a placid section of the river for 0.4 miles. The path moves in and out of forest as it drops 550’ over 0.6 miles to Le Conte Falls. The trail drops an additional 150’ over 0.4 miles as the river swings away and then returns to the trail at Waterwheel Falls. Watch for a side trail to the left that leads to a great view of the falls. Take care to avoid the very slippery wet slick rock.

Please note that this represents the planned itinerary. Weather or other factors may affect the choice of campsites and daily travel. All decisions are made by the Head Packer with attention to the safety and comfort of guests and stock.

Expected Campsite Locations

Day To Elevation Latitude N Longitude W Miles Gain Loss
1 Virginia Canyon 8,950 38.026 119.348 9.2 1,550 2,650
2 Tuolumne River 77,800 37.913 119.432 9.7 800 1,700
3 Tuolumne Meadows 9,100 38.054 119.414 4.9 850 1,200
Total 25.40 3,400 4,550

 

*Mileage, gain, and loss based on Guthook’s PCT Guide.


Trips are subject to changes

 

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High Sierras Wilderness Pack Trips
Tour Code: RTCA10
7 days / 6 nights ~$1,680.00
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
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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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