California Sierra Nevada Guided Trail Ride


Nina Fuller, cowgirl freelance photographer for American Cowboy magazine visited and reported her Six-Day Gold Rush Ride in the Sierra Nevada mountains courtesy of Kennedy Meadows Resort and Pack Station, established in 1917. It is operated and maintained by the Willie Ritts who has 250 horses and mules to choose from that include Quarter Horse, Standardbred, and Percheron breed horses. Horses are even-tempered and deal with the terrain, crossing mountain streams, and the local critters like deer, bear, mountain lion, and marmots. The tack is made and repaired on site.

Mules carry the provisions in leather pack bags diamond hitched under a canvas tarp that can hold 150 pounds of gear for each mule. The six-day trip requires nine mules carrying gear for 12 people.

Twenty cabins surround the main lodge and corrals that is bordered on one side by the Stanislaus River and the Sierra Nevada mountains on the other side.While the normal trips are to Emigrant Lake and Spring Meadows, a 15-mile excursion that are one-day trips, larger groups can take the ride that Fuller experienced called the Six-Day Gold Rush Ride into the Sierra Nevada mountains from the resort and pack station that is at 6,400 feet above sea level is one of several customized trips you can set arrange. Trips begin from the Pack Station. One packer handles up to 10 head of stock and more stock requires the addition of another packer. Almost anything you wish can be packed in, like food, beverages and other conveniences. All stock are chosen for the smallest child, inexperienced rider, to the experienced adult rider. When making reservations, you set up the required saddle and pack stock for your group, the desired destination and the date going in and coming out. A 20% deposit is required and it is recommended you make reservations early.You must have a wilderness permit from the Forest Service before you arrive at the Pack Station – and amazingly they are still free.
All inclusive pack trips will include a guide, cook, stock, food, and most of the equipment required. The Extended Trip allows you to keep the packer and stock with you, thus
making it possible to move camp and fish, hunt and visit the many different scenic areas.On Spot Trips the packer takes the party to a desired spot and returns at an arranged time to bring them back to the pack station. Pack mules are rented by day or week.On the first day of the six-day ride, it is an 8-hour trek (23 miles) to the campsite, 8,200 to 9,500 feet above sea level near the Huckleberry Lake that is full of rainbow, German brown, and brook trout that riders can cast for upon arrival.
The campsite is set up and riders sleep in canvas expedition tents on cots with warm sleeping bags and the comfort of a linen-covered pillow.Each day starts with the rising sun, and after breakfast burritos and Dutch oven-baked muffins there are daily rides from the lake/campsite; riding through meadows, under waterfalls, and over mountain passes. In the evening there is a steak dinner cooked over the open fire. If you can afford it, the All Inclusive and Extended Trip is the best for you do not have to cook.
Guides are experienced and carry a .44 magnum (for scaring away bears) and Bowie knife; and are dressed for the purpose.
They are open on the last Friday in April and close on Columbus Day in October. Reservations can be made between 8am and 7:30pm.
In the summer, call: 209-965-3911 or 209-965-3900.
In the winter, call: 209-965-3900 or the owner at 209-928-1239.
For just guided trail rides, horses are available beginning the Memorial weekend that last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and cost $25 per person, leaving at different times of the day. The ride goes to Upper Meadow, across the river, and back down the far side of the river in a scenic loop.
Half-Day rides are about three and a half hours long and leaves at 10:30am, costing $55 per person. You take the ride to vista overlooking Relief Reservoir, where many
people enjoy a lunch they pack or hike to the dam to take pictures.
All-Day rides leave at 6:30am and 9:30am and takes riders to Kennedy Lake or Kennedy creek to fish for trout. There is a discount rate for groups of multiple riders:
1-2 riders, $90 per person; 3-8 riders, $75 per person; and 9-15 riders, $70 per person.
All-Day rides allow you to choose destinations: Lower Relief, Kennedy Lake (fishing and scenic viewing), and Lunch Meadow for alpine scenery above the tree line.
Got to website for more details.
Maybe you won’t be living a life of the cowboy or cowgirl, but you will be able to do so for one or more days, depending upon what trip you take.
The extended six-night, five-day Gold Rush excursion will cost $2,195 per person. Depending upon elevation, don’t be surprised if you see snow on the ground and covering the peaks in the month of June. Summers are generally dry and mild, but you might want to take a duster for sudden thundershowers that may occur periodically.
Sara Winnemucca
The history of the area goes back 10,000 years where the Sierra Miwok and Piute lived. The discovery of gold in 1848 brought large numbers of people that settled in the Sierra mountain area. In 1852, the Clark-Skidmore party was the first emigrant group to cross the West Walker Route over Emigrant Pass. You will see, as your sure-footed equine partner takes your through the same terrain they traversed in 1852 and imagine the hardship they experienced between September and October of 1852.

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