Camping at Horseshoe Meadow

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Camping at Horseshoe Meadow

Post by Robin » Sat Jun 30, 2007 6:57 am

Five of us are doing the JMT (though beginning at Cottonwood to avoid the Whitney crowds) in August. We are planning to acclimate for two nights at Horseshoe Meadow. I haven't camped at Horseshoe since the late 60's, so would like some advise. First come, first served, or reservations? We'll be arriving on a Thursday, do you think we'll have trouble nabbing a spot? Anyone have a favorite spot there?

And then, would you go over New Army Pass or Cottonwood to head toward the JMT?

Thanks very much for your time!!

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Post by vaughnm » Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:03 am

Don't know about staying at Horseshoe (the two times I was there it was just to get to the trailhead).

If you're looking for the shortest/easiest route, I would head over Cottonwood. If you're looking for more of a view, I would head over New Army Pass, spending the night in the Cottonwood Lakes basin. If you head over Cottonwood, there's not much between Chicken Springs Lake and Rock Creek, so plan accordingly.


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Post by SPeacock » Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:34 am

They have redone the area completely since you have been there. They have moved the trail head up the road and then west with a large parking lot as well as equistrian (overflow) parking. ... &layer=DRG

The map doesn't show the new trailhead to Army Pass. Its at the red x.

Close by the trail head is walk in camping - first come. I think there is $5 a night fee. If you are thinking of acclimating at the parking lot, you might as well get on the trail and stay where the scenery is not asphalt.

The Horseshoe Meadows/Cottonwood Lakes TH is about 10,500 the first Cottonwood Lakes are 11,000 (give or take). Not that much altitude difference and you can finish that book on the trail rather in a parking lot.

I'd go over OLD Army Pass ... route.html

leaving from Cottonwood Lake 4, staying overnight either at CW 4/5 or perhaps at Muir if you are going to be there a few days.

The other option is over NEW Army Pass out of Long Lake. It is 500 feet higher than OLD Army Pass. Both take you by a day hike opportunity of Langley.

Your next night would be at lower Rock Creek where PCT crosses it down below the ranger cabin. But if you are doing the JMT for the scenery you might like the shunt into the Mitre and Soldier Lakes area. ... &layer=DRG

You will have the option of sleeping lower than the parking lot.

Cottonwood Pass would be the low altitude route, longer, and not as spectacular scenery. Not so much effort not a lot of views.

If Horseshoe Meadows is too high for acclimatization, there is also Onion Valley out of Independence at just below 10,000'. It has walk in tent camping also. Probably going to be one of your re-supply points as well.

Your acclimatization has several options if you were going to do it in the parking lot. You can plan it on the trail with a high first night at the lakes, the second night is below where you parked the car; or not so high on the other side of Cottonwood Pass. You end up at Rock Creek anyway.

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Post by hawkfeather » Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:50 pm

I would second the suggestion that you go in from the Cottonwood TH rather than Horseshoe. Campsites there are for backpackers, first come first served. Depending on what time you get there, it's not too bad to overnite at the TH and get an early start the next morning.

Cottonwood basin is also a gorgeous spot to spend a day acclimating. If you can go straight in, this is what I'd recommend.

This may be a good year to do Old Army Pass. If you spend a day in the basin, you can take a look at it and see how much snow remains.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I did the southern end of the JMT, going in over New Army, and then went x-country from Soldier Lakes into Miter Basin and over Crabtree Pass to connect with the JMT. We completely bypassed Whitney--too many people up there for our taste--but our route more than made up.

Enjoy your trip!

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Post by quentinc » Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:05 pm

There won't be any snow at Old Army Pass now. It was almost passable without any special equipment at the beginning of June this year!

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