Whitney via Onion Valley or Horseshoe Meadows

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Home Forums Campfire Trip Planning Whitney via Onion Valley or Horseshoe Meadows

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    Jeff M.
    BPL Member


    I’m hopefully going to be taking a friend on a 4ish day trip exiting Whitney from either onion valley or horseshoe meadows. I’ve done the trip from horshoe meadows probably 3 times now so I was considering doing it from onion valley since it will be new to me. Anyone done it both ways? Did you have a preference for which route you enjoyed more? I enjoy camping at lakes when possible.

    Jon Fong / Flat Cat Gear
    BPL Member


    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    Onion Valley could give you some time to get acclimated.  Just a thought.

    John S.
    BPL Member


    Onion valley start will be more scenic and more challenging (Forrester Pass).

    Tom K
    BPL Member


    If you want to come in from the north, Shepherd Pass, while not easy, would be shorter and also easier than the combination of Kearsarge and Forester Passes.  The scenery ain’t too shabby either.

    Murali C
    BPL Member


    I have not done Horseshoe Meadows….have done Kearsage from Onion valley trailhead and it is beautiful. Definitely recommend it.  Since you have already done Horseshoe 3 times….go for Kearsage!

    Steve Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southwest

    I’ve done both ways and via Shepherd Pass.  Since you’ve already come in from Horseshoe suggest mixing it up and entering via Onion Valley/ Kearsarge.  And if you are game for some off trail you can add Center Basin-Junction Pass-Shepherd Pass, and/or Rockwell Pass-Wright Lakes Basin.  Center Basin is a worthwhile side trip even if you choose to skip the passes.

    Lakes along the way (or just slightly off the beaten path):  Matlock Lake-useful if you start hiking late afternoon, Kearsarge Lakes-convenient but overused, Charlotte Lake-convenient but overused, Golden Bear Lake, Wright Lakes, the tarn atop Bighorn Plateau, Guitar Lake-which should be familiar to you or make the short hike up to Arctic Lake.

    You can’t go wrong either way, though I prefer the Onion Valley start.

    BPL Member


    I have a reservation from Onion Valley and exit out at Whitney Portal in end of August for 4 days 3 nights too. For sceneries, I prefer Onion Valley TH more than Horseshoe Meadow. Depend on where you live (I live in Socal and literally 100ft above sea level), I would recommend to arrive 1 day prior to acclimate. That way you can put a little more mileage form day 1. I think you will like it from Onion Valley TH to Whitney Portal. The only thing sucks about this route is the limited permits they giving out, so you gotta fight with other people on it since it’s a very popular route that people want to do to summit Whitney with a few nights in the backcountry.

    Jeff M.
    BPL Member


    I appreciate all the feedback. I was able to get a permit for our preferred dates out of Cottonwood Lakes. I have another day to try for Kearsarge or Shephard. We’ll see if I can get it.

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