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trail suggestions to avoid equine traffic

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trail suggestions to avoid equine traffic

Postby freestone » Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:13 pm

There was a recent article in the LA Times Travel section about enjoying the Sierra by horseback. I respect their rights, but was "fishing" for suggestions on trails that are considered little used by packtrains, especially the laterals into the JMT. The question could also be which trails should be avoided?



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Postby hikerduane » Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:12 am

JMT. Can be hit or miss though. I had one small party come thru at Purple Lake and another on the trail.
Piece of cake.
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Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:23 pm

If you get the USFS map of John Muir Wilderness (which includes nearly all of SeKi), it identifies some trails (e.g., Italy Pass) as 'not recommended for pack stock'. That's a good starting point.

Me, I avoid horse manure mainly by staying off trails altogether--as much as possible, anyway.
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Postby copeg » Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:52 pm

As Tom alluded to just about any "unmaintained" trail you'll probably never see stock...Colby Pass and Italy Pass are the first that come to mind. Many trails further than a day's hike from a trailhead will be less frequented by stock, since I think the majority of pack trains are in and out within a day (that being said I've seen pack trains in days from the nearest trailhead in evolution basin....don't get me started on THAT story :evil: ) .
I think areas around Red's Meadow and Mammoth are more frequented by horses, as well as many of the eastern sierra passes such as Bishop and Piute Pass.

If you're really looking at staying away from horses, try to spend as much time as you can off trail. :nod:
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Postby giantbrookie » Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:08 pm

In addition to the well traveled sections of well known trails such as the JMT/PCT, most trunk trails whose trailhead is near a pack station get pooped pretty bad. The more popular East Side trails fall in this category. As trailblazer said, the best way to get away from the horses is to go off trail. I've been to places that are no more than 1 mile from my car where you won't find people or horses (just visited such a place earlier this year), whereas I've hiked very deep in the backcountry and encountered a big packer assisted party with portable generators and the whole nine yards.

For staying on trails and still avoiding lots of poop there are certain areas that are pretty good. Desolation Wilderness, for example, sees fairly minimal equestrian traffic. I'm not sure why, but the lack of pack trains is certainly one of the pluses of Desolation. Dinkey Lakes Wilderness also seems comparatively light on pack trains.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby Take-a-Hike » Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:36 pm

One trail to avoid is the Sabrina Lake basin/Blue Lake Trail. THey run up 'n down there like greyhounds in the dead of summer. That first lake past Blue is like pulling off the side of the road and car camping. Too bad too, cause it's such a nice scenic area...but a scene I'll never see again.
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Postby freestone » Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:30 pm

Let me add to the list. I do not recall seeing any equine traffic on the Lamarck trail, certainly not on the .5 mile. Colby and Italy are great suggestions. Bear Creek out of the diversion dam seems to be ok, there is a ridge route that the packers take maybe. Thank you all for your suggestions. I do try and stay off trails once I get near or over the crest, its the "getting there" I had in mind. Its nice to have options.
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Postby quentinc » Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:12 pm

Lamarck is reliably good. Italy Pass is great once you get beyond Honeymoon Lake, but you might find 10 or more pack animals having a honeymoon at that unfortunate lake.

There are always the suicidally steep trails -- Shepard, Baxter, Sawmill and Taboose. Not many pack trains venture up those! And of course they're prohibited on Whitney/Trail Crest. Tons of people for sure, but I'd rather face too many people than endless mule s***
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Postby copeg » Thu Jul 12, 2007 6:42 am

Take-a-Hike wrote:One trail to avoid is the Sabrina Lake basin/Blue Lake Trail. THey run up 'n down there like greyhounds in the dead of summer. That first lake past Blue is like pulling off the side of the road and car camping. Too bad too, cause it's such a nice scenic area...but a scene I'll never see again.


Several years ago hiking up there, I stopped for a bit and was about to refill my water bottle, when around the bend comes a horse party, 2 out of the 5 of which dropped their load right in the stream :puke:
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Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:09 am

quentinc wrote:Lamarck is reliably good. Italy Pass is great once you get beyond Honeymoon Lake, but you might find 10 or more pack animals having a honeymoon at that unfortunate lake.

There are always the suicidally steep trails -- Shepard, Baxter, Sawmill and Taboose. Not many pack trains venture up those! And of course they're prohibited on Whitney/Trail Crest. Tons of people for sure, but I'd rather face too many people than endless mule s***


Yes the "6k plus club" (the four big nasties you list all 6000' of gain and more) see very little stock use, but they are the 6k club and they certainly require a lot of work to do (as does Colby Pass, of course). Lamarck Col. is indeed good, but it is officially off trail after Upper Lamarck Lake even if it has a very well developed (and even engineered) use trail for fairly good stretches. I have a packtrain story about Pine Creek. Indeed it is a classically poopy trail up to Honeymoon as you note. On one descent, my wife and I found ourselves stuck behind a pack train over the last 1.5 miles or so. It was a lousy way to end a trip (had been a fine trip to Bear Basin). I warned my wife not to "tailgate" too much. The rear animal in the train, as if on cue, dumped a load, after which she gave it a bit more room. My wife absolutely detests that trail, not only because of the "getting stuck in traffic", but because the water bars are extremely numerous and super high. At 5'1" she has to use her hands to climb over a number of them on the way up. As for Sabrina, my wife wasn't feeling too well one morning, and hiking from the trailhead, the intense aroma of numerous steaming mounds was enough to put her over the edge and toss her breakfast. A recent addition to the "poopy trails" list would be Rancheria out of Wishon. It gets but a fraction of the stock use that the major trunk trails get, but cattle graze in the area and it is a major cow highway. It is very dusty, too. On the way up we had a herd of cattle just ahead of us, kicking up as much dust as an SUV and pooping all over the trail. Yuck.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby Alpenbro » Thu Jul 12, 2007 4:42 pm

Last year in Sabrina I saw people with their own llamas hiking above Blue lake. pretty weird, first time I'd ever seen that..

Giantbrookie, you've confirmed my fears about the Pine Creek TH. I figured it would be stanky. Oh well, not really a big deal. I'm headed out there in the 2nd week of August to visit the Bear Lakes basin and ramble around the high country.. Maybe we can push above Honeymoon the first day to escape the dung factor.

Anyone have tips/suggestions for this region BTW? I did a search and there's some good info here but I thought I'd ask anyway.
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Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:25 pm

Alpenbro wrote:I'm headed out there in the 2nd week of August to visit the Bear Lakes basin and ramble around the high country.. Maybe we can push above Honeymoon the first day to escape the dung factor.

Anyone have tips/suggestions for this region BTW? I did a search and there's some good info here but I thought I'd ask anyway.


Once past Honeymoon, things get way better. You can go off trail a short distance to Golden Lake (does have goldens, too), which is a nice little get away, or you can go to Granite Park, where there are some beautiful places to stay. You can also head through a gap to the Royces as well. My wife and I hit Bear Basin on day 1 from the trailhead via an off trail notch above Granite Park, but this is a pretty fair grunt from the trailhead (over 5000' of gain). Easier would be to simply stay in Granite Park. My wife and I stayed at Golden Lake once when torrential thundershowers forced us to stop short of busting into the Royces on day 1 of another trip.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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