Off the Map: Horseback Riding in the High Sierra Nevada Wilderness

Immerse yourself in the Sierra Nevada’s rugged beauty, surveying the secluded landscapes on horseback to learn about the region’s history, culture and legends from local adventurers.
Rating (5)
Program No. 10322RJ
5 days
Starts at
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5 days
4 nights
12 meals
4 B 4 L 4 D
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Bridgeport, California
Walker River Lodge

Activity note: Hotel check-in starts at 3:00 p.m. (Hotel office is closed from 12:00-2:00 p.m.) There is always a possibility that smoke and forest fires may cause road closures in California during the summer months. For up-to-date road conditions and closures please contact the California Department of Transportation hotline at 1-800-427-7623 or at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the hotel lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: We’ll walk to a nearby restaurant for a plated meal with soda, coffee, tea, or water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: As we linger over dinner, continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholar riding companions, and some of our wranglers from Virginia Lakes Pack Station, who will talk about our learning adventure on horseback. Orientation: After dinner the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. All of our activities take place in the beautiful Eastern Sierra in the Hoover Wilderness near the northeastern edge of Yosemite National Park. We typically cover 4-9 miles a day on horseback, approximately 4-6 hours a day with an hour break in between for lunch. Topics for evening campfire talks will vary by season and staff expertise, addressing aspects of natural and human history such as exploration, the Donner Pass, mountain lions, and more. There will be opportunities for taking photographs, fishing, and swimming so pack accordingly. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. After orientation we'll walk back to the hotel to get a good night's rest for the day ahead.

Scenic Ride to Base Camp at Green Lake, Campfire Program
Virginia Lakes Region near Dunderberg Peak, CA
Sierra Nevada Campsite

Activity note: Meet and start bonding with your horse or mule who will be your partner for the next few days as you explore this remote section of the Hoover Wilderness. Settle in and explore our lakeside camp site which will be home for the rest of the week.

Breakfast: Our day begins with a hot breakfast at a nearby local restaurant to prepare us for a day of adventure. Then we are off to the trailhead where the staff will pack our luggage on the mules and we'll get to meet our horses prior to our departure.

Morning: Our first ride is up the Green Creek Canyon to Green Lake. Take in the scenic aspen tree groves along the way. This species of tree is thought to be the largest living organism on earth due to its vast network of roots connecting each individual tree trunk that can cover multiple acres.

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the trail.

Afternoon: Grab your luggage and get settled into your tent. You’re deep in the heart of the backcountry and the surrounding mountains are a photographer's paradise. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy. Fish in the nearby lake, rest or explore the area.

Dinner: Our dinner is served buffet-style as we sit in comfortable lawn chairs around our campfire.

Evening: Our evening campfire programs vary depending on the staff and group, but typical presentations include the natural history and exploration of the area, the Donner Pass, and even mountain lions.

Ride to Summit Lake, Campfire Lecture
Virginia Lakes Region near Dunderberg Peak, CA
Sierra Nevada Campsite

Activity note: You and your sure-footed mount will ride up to Summit Lake which is the boundary with Yosemite National Park.

Breakfast: A delicious hot breakfast served around the campfire gets us ready for a day riding the trail.

Morning: Today's ride takes us to Summit Lake, which at 10,300 feet, is our highest destination. This is also our longest ride. Summit Lake forms part of the boundary with Yosemite National Park. Along the way, we will pass East Lake, Gilman Lake, and ride between the two Hoover lakes before we reach our lunch spot at Summit Lake.

Lunch: Picnic lunch at Summit Lake.

Afternoon: We retrace our route back to camp, once again passing a series of stunningly beautiful lakes. Return to camp after time on the trail in this scenic wonderland with a bit of time to relax and visit with new friends.

Dinner: Our cooks surprise us with another excellent meal.

Evening: What will this evening's fare be? Another fun opportunity around the campfire with your new friends to learn about the area's fascinating natural and human history.

Trail Ride, Mule Packing Demonstration, Campfire Music
Virginia Lakes Region near Dunderberg Peak, CA
Sierra Nevada Campsite

Activity note: Ride to West Lake and get a bird's-eye view of Green Lake and maybe even our campsite. Learn the intricacies of packing a mule. Then after a hearty dinner, relax and enjoy the music under a star-studded sky.

Breakfast: Delicious hot breakfast served around the campfire.

Morning: Nothing could be better than another beautiful ride in the Hoover Wilderness. See up close how the seasonal change is affected by altitude.

Lunch: Picnic lunch at West Lake.

Afternoon: We spend a little more time on the trail before we return to camp. Enjoy your peaceful surroundings with a leisurely afternoon. Learn the skill and knowledge required to be a mule packer with a demonstration from the pack station staff on how to properly load a mule.

Dinner: Food never tastes as good as a hearty dinner cooked outdoors.

Evening: In the superb silence of the High Sierra, what could be better than the toe-tapping strains of music drifting through the air? Enjoy a special treat as we’re joined by a guest musician. Sing, clap, dance, or just sit back and enjoy under the star-filled sky.

Trail Ride and Return to Bridgeport, Program Concludes
Virginia Lakes Region near Dunderberg Peak, CA

Activity note: Break camp. Our gear is once again packed onto the mules before we mount up for our final ride back to the trailhead and our special week in the wilderness. Note the difference in foliage and vegetation as we make our way back down to the trailhead.

Breakfast: We will have our final hot breakfast around the campfire after we have laid out our luggage for the packers to load on the mules.

Morning: After our luggage is ready to be loaded and we have had breakfast, the Group Leader will lead a wrap up of our week together. Take in your last glances and photos of this beautiful wilderness as we mount our horses for our ride out of our camp and head back down to the trailhead. Along the way we'll stop for a photo op.

Lunch: Back at the trailhead, the pack station staff will have the grill fired up for a hamburger/hot dog lunch while our luggage is unloaded and the stock un-tacked and loaded into the stock trailers. Take home indelible memories of incredible landscapes, wonderful riding experiences, and starry nights to carry you over until your next trip.

Afternoon: Program ends after lunch. Pack station staff will drive those who left their cars in Bridgeport back to the lodge. If you drove to the trailhead, after a final farewell, load your car and head home. Be sure to get directions for forest service roads back to the highway before you depart. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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