Kennedy Meadow's location splitting the 150 mile distance separating the resupply facilities to our South at Tuolumne Meadows from those to our North in the Tahoe Basin makes Kennedy Meadows Pack Station an attractive if not vital resupply point for all long distance backpackers hiking either the Pacific Crest or the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail routes between
Tahoe and Yosemite.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is also my very favorite rest and resupply spot between Tahoe and Whitney. Though I've enjoyed all the High Sierra resupply spots each for its own specifc character and culture, I have always found KM to be the most enjoyable of all the High Sierra rest and resupply spots. The Butch and Peg era at Vermilion Valley was a time when Kennedy Meadows Pack Station had a backpacker-centric High Sierra resupply equal. Since then Kennedy Meadows has been the best among the rest.
It has to do with the basis of the operations, the attitude and character of the various "staffs," composed of the different teams running the store, resturant, support, housekeeping, and the horse and horse packing operations.
This staff has supported generations of vacationing Valley farm and ranch families, fishermen, then finally the hunters coming over the course of a season to stay in Kennedy Meadow's cabins and use its various facilities. And of course, us long distance and local backpackers. This mixture of characters, customers, and services over the course of many seasons has produced and well finishes Kennedy Meadow's cowboy-country small town feel.
Bottom Line #1
The restaurant is great, the store well stocked, the showers and laundry effective, clean and cheap, and the people really, really nice. The prices are the cheapest of all the, "edge of the wilderness resorts," and the quality of all products and services are top-notch.
Bloom and his folks are Good People.
Bottom Line #2
Thus Kennedy Meadows supports a much lower percentage of jackasses, both on its staff and among its regular visitors than the wide-open craziness in Yosemite allows, nor does it have the city-level bustle of acitivity we experience in Yosemite, South Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes.
Lake Alpine Lodge and Muir Ranch, though very different from each other, are very much the same in offering year-to-year consistancy of quiet hospitality, yet neither of them come close to creating the type of unique seasonal cowboy-backpacker-hunter-fisherfolk community that grows in Kennedy Meadows every Spring and closes down with the advent of each Winter.
Life is Good
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
After the early-Summer flood of resupplying Pacific Crest Trail hopefuls (how many will make it?) tapers off we can easily find a steady, but not overwhelming, stream of long and short distance backpackers hiking out of or through Kennedy Meadows Pack Station over the course of every Summer.
Besides long distance backpacker rest, resupply, and clean-up facilities, Kennedy Meadows is a fantastic resource for any South Carson Iceberg or Emigrant Wilderness backpacker seeking an excellent last meal before hitting the trail, or a shower and their classic chile cheeseburger to properly end our last long section of trail before beginning the next.
Potential Resupply Points between Tahoe and Yosemite
For hikers needing or wishing to further break the 150 mile distance between our Tahoe and Yosemite resupply points into even shorter segments than the 75 miles separating Kennedy Meadows from the Tahoe Basin to our North we must mention our resupply option to our North, down Highway 4 from Ebbetts Pass.
Lake Alpine Lodge
A fifteen mile hitch-hike West down Highway 4 from Ebbetts Pass (map) brings us to the Lake Alpine Lodge, where we find a free resupply package service, and a restaurant, bar, and store.
Since the route of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail passes within a half mile of the Lake Alpine Lodge it is a standard practice for TYT hikers to visit and resupply at the Lake Alpine Lodge.
Most PCT hikers bypass Lake Alpine, but it offers a resupply option for those who want or need another resupply stop between Kennedy Meadows and the Tahoe Basin. We have no other resupply options to our South shortening up our 75 mile Southbound hike from Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows.
Note that the route of the TYT passes through or near Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Lake Alpine Lodge on its Western Flank route down the Sierra, while the route of the PCT runs from 9 to 15 miles to the East of the TYT along the Sierra Crest.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station Key North Sierra Resupply Spot
Its position halfway between Tahoe and Yosemite resupply facilities makes Kennedy Meadows Pack Station the key North Sierra resupply point for the vast majority of Pacific Crest Trail hikers and all hikers along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is even closer to the route of the TYT than the half mile separating the TYT from the Lake Alpine Lodge. The route of the TYT literally passes by Kennedy Meadow's front porch on its way South into Emigrant Wilderness.
Key Local Trailhead
Kennedy Meadow's location on the Southbound entrance of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail into Emigrant Wilderness at 6400 feet of elevation marks the beginning of our climbing 3300 feet over the next 11 miles to take us up through Brown Bear Pass into the highest elevation terrain of Emigrant Wilderness. This type of climb is much different than the route of the Pacific Crest Trail, which stays up on the Sierra Crest. Unlike the PCT, the route of the TYT takes three great sweeps far down the Western Flank, followed each time by a long climb back to the Sierra Crest.
Kennedy Meadows marks the bottom of Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hiker's last great descent down the Western Flank of the Sierra,
and the beginning of our last great climb back to the Sierra Crest.
Although we hitch-hiked down Highway 108 rather than hiking this last great descent to Kennedy Meadows, we will personally execute the climb following the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail back up to the Sierra Crest.
Trail Junctions in Emigrant Basin
Following the TYT South climbing up through Brown Bear Pass opens up before us three upcoming trails leading North and East to the Pacific Crest Trail. Each of our upcoming options opens up a big range of backpacking loops and trailhead to trailhead backpacking trips we can use to focus our attention on exploring the various wonders and mysteries of all the quadrants of the highest elevation elements of Emigrant Wilderness.
These same next three trail junctions also offer a series of trail options descending the Western Flank of Emigrant Wilderness from the Sierra Crestline down through our selection of magnificant descending granite canyons that gradually submerge themselves under increasing depths of the West Flank Forests as they run down one or the other of the series of Cherry Creeks, either down to the Cherry Lake Trailheads to our South or the Pinecrest Lake Trailheads to our Southwest, depending on our route selection.
Emigrant Wilderness offers fantastic terrain for local and long distance backpacker explorations.
Stairway to Heaven
Kennedy Meadow's position along the key TYT route up to the top of Emigrant Wilderness for local backpackers makes it an excellent location for either beginning or ending big local backpacking trips exploring the section of the Sierra Crest running across the top of the Emigrant Wilderness from Sonora Pass to Bond Pass.
This is a fine little piece of backpacking heaven.
The unique scenic beauties of the two great canyons we climb from Kennedy Meadows Pack Station hiking up to Brown Bear Pass make this segment of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail a "must do," hike for all Sierra Backpackers, independent of what you do afterwards. And we do have many trail options beyond Brown Bear Pass as we encounter the series of 3 trail junctions in the Emigrant Basin, as described above. This map below depicts our hiking options along and between the TYT and PCT South of Highway 108 to the Yosemite boundary:
Backpacking Across Emigrant Wilderness
Local Trails and Backpacking Trips
This Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide provides extensive coverage of the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trail's routes into, across, and out of Emigrant Wilderness. We look at how to link them up for huge variety of local Emigrant Wilderness backpacking loops and trips. From this information we can craft a wide range of local or long distance backpacking trips exploring the many aspects of the high elevation portions of the Emigrant Wilderness.
The Emigrant Basin
Through Kennedy Meadows Pack Station we have a set of unique access points into the High Emigrant
Basin (definition) from the West or North, and beyond the basin we find access into the remote trails of the North Yosemite Backcountry. For those of us seeking to tour the High Emigrant Basin we have the option of crossing Emigrant Pass (guide) to probe the strip of Toiyabe National Forest (map) wedged on the East Flank between the Emigrant and Hoover Wilderness Areas. This strip of terrain holds the West and West West Walker Rivers that are eventually slated to be added to the Hoover Wilderness.
Or we can turn North from the TYT in Emigrant Basin along the Tungsten Road (guide) over Big Sam (guide) to intersect with the PCT at the top of Kennedy Canyon. This opens our way North to Sonora Pass or West to return to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station via Kennedy Lake. Or East down to the West and West West Walker Rivers.
We can continue South across the Emigrant Basin continuing on the Southbound TYT towards Bond Pass (guide) . From Bond Pass we can either point ourselves South into Yosemite, or cross Bond Pass to turn North on the Pacific Crest Trail to begin bending our grand Emigrant Wilderness backpacking loop back to its selected Highway 108 end point. We will find all of these trails running to the four points of the compass at the second of three trail junctions along the TYT between Brown Bear and Bond Passes:
We have a very exciting range of Backpacking Trips we can design out of
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station by employing the four-way trail junctions at the top of Kennedy Canyon along the PCT and the four-way junction under Grizzly Peak along the TYT.
We have two four-way trail junctions in a row along the Sierra Crest, Kennedy Canyon along the PCT and Grizzly Peak on the TYT. That's a unique configuration.
Many Roles of Kennedy Meadows
Kennedy Meadows can serve as home base for extensive backpacking explorations of the Emigrant Wilderness or as a perfect one-stop quick hit and run resupply spot during our epic long distance backpacking trips hiking from Tahoe to Whitney.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station operates perfectly in either role.
Fill in the Blanks
Folks who hiked the PCT should really come back to Kennedy Meadows and use it as a base to further explore Emigrant Wilderness, which you essentially missed hiking the route of the PCT. The route of the PCT traces out the Easternmost boundary of the Emigrant Wilderness, essentially going around a unique section of the Sierra Crest as the PCT route diverts around the Emigrant Wilderness.
Thus PCT hikers should come back to better explore this unique little section of the Sierra Crest.
Getting to Kennedy Meadows Resupply Resources
from The PCT and TYT Trailheads at
SonoraandSaint Marys Passes
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is located Nine Miles West of Sonora and Saint Marys Passes on Highway 108.
The route of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail passes by Kennedy Meadow's front porch on its way South.
Kennedy Meadow Sign
on Highway 108
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
RESOURCES & SERVICES
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is my favorite resupply spot between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney.
Your tastes may differ.
Resupply Package Service, showers, laundry, store, and great food and drink are just the tip of the iceberg.
The real joy at KM is its great folks and guests set between the experiences of backpacking across the beauties of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness to get here to enjoy its bounty, then departing into the beauties of the Emigrant Wilderness.
I could sit, rest, work, or enjoy almost any activity at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Activities and Events
HORSEPACKER SCHOOLS Kennedy Meadows Kid and Adult Horse Camps
Learn to Pack a Mule and Ride the Mountains
BACK AGAIN for 2016 FOURTH YEAR OF CLASSES
This year Kennedy Meadows Pack Stationis offering Ten Days of Kids Camp KID'S HORSE CAMPS (Check with Kennedy Meadows for this year's Schedule.)
A lifetime of joy in the mountains starts young! Give your kids the gift of learning the practical skills of mountain horsemanship and camp skills that will last a lifetime.
We had such a great time with our 2013 and 2014 horse camps that this year we will continue to offer TWO all inclusive camps, divided between younger and older kids.
These camps are for kids who are really interested in riding horses, packing mules, and wilderness cooking and camping. Our Horse Camps are for both boys and girls that have minimal riding experience (i.e., not scared of horses).
Today's Kids need a practical context to understand and build their experiences and skills within. Horses, wilderness, and mountains offer that context, Our cowgirls and cowboys provide the supervision, training, and experience necessary for kids to become compentent and responsible backcountry riders in a highly supervised environment.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Horse Camps put kids in a safe natural environment that draws out their skills and confidence while training them to see that the logic and work of preparing, packing, and executing a backcountry pack trip are all part of the rewarding fun of backcountry horsemanship.
Get your kids onto the trail to set them up for a lifetime of meaningful wilderness experiences, practical knowledge, backcountry ethics, and confidence.
The campers’ day will start at 7am and be filled with many activities involving grooming, feeding, and riding horses. They will also learn the basics of packing camping supplies on a mule. At around 5pm they will clean up and head for dinner. After dinner activities will include fishing, hiking, games, and having a campfire until it is time for lights out! Campers will be adult supervised 24 hrs a day so parents, don’t worry!
For current information and any questions give us a call at (209) 965-3900 or email us at email@example.com!
NEW for 2014 Continuing in 2016
ADULT PACK SCHOOL
16 through adult. Learn everything necessary to confidently and safely pack and lead your own wilderness horse packing trips! Learn stock and backcountry safety issues as we learn how to pack mules and horses. But first, horsepacking requires mastering the basics of feeding, catching, grooming, and saddling of our horses and mules. We will learn the basics of horse first aid and how to care for stock in case of an emergency.
These lessons are brought into practical focus as we plan and execute an excellent overnight Horsepacking trip. This trip will teach us how to plan and execute a successful horsepacking trip that will bring all of our backcountry horsepacking and horse packer camping skills together.
Our horsecamping trip will show us how to properly select and use the gear we packed on our mules, how to set up a custom backcountry camp and kitchen, and how to cook with a Dutch Oven. Our school includes learning how to plan and cook up tasty Horsepacker's meals in the beautiful Emigrant Wilderness backcounty.
All of our Horsepackers are taught backcountry ethics and Leave No Trace Principles.
This school is for people who are seriously interested in becoming a competent packer. At the end of the school, you will receive a Certificate of Completion and maybe even a job offer!
Adult Pack School Requirements
The school costs $1000.00, which includes all the lodging, meals, materials, horses, mules, tack, and everything else you need for the week!
In order for this school to happen, we need a minimum of 5 people so call your friends! We also ask that you are physically fit sufficient to do the required activities.
You will be arriving on Thursday, June 5th and going home on Thursday, June 12th
Kennedy Meadow Prime Rib Dinner Guests, Backpackers, Campers, and locals from as far as the valley find their way to KM's delicious Sunday Prime Rib Dinner.
Kennedy Meadows Family Dinner Every evening KM features a delicious entree served with Soup, Salad, Veggie, and Desert. A hearty full meal for a reasonable price leaves KM diners and passing long-distance backpackers very satisfied.
Alone as the Best Backpacker Resupply along the High Sierra Trails
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is rated as The Best Backpacker Resupply Spot between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney by Tahoe to Whitney from 2012 through 2016.
All the Spots from Tahoe to Whitney provide basic services. Each resupply spot has its own culture and character. I have enjoyed all of them as the trajectory of their character and quality of services changes over time. Most have improved.
Kennedy Meadows remains predictable and consistent in all areas of backpackers services, while improving them as the nature of backpacker demands changes with the times. Kennedy Meadows put out charging strips for electronics charging!
They set up the bunkhouse deal for long backpackers.
A precipitous fall in the quality of backpacker services at Vermilion Valley Resort leaves Kennedy Meadows alone at the top of the heap as the Premier High Sierra Backpacker Resupply location.
Note: The Ladies at Muir Ranch have set up a free store for backpackers!!
Muir Ranch now solicits overnight backpackers to use their cabins, rather than shooing us off! Amazing!
VVR is no longer recommended for backpacker resupply services by Tahoe to Whitney due to the outrageous rudeness of the staff, the poor quality of backpacker services, and taking advantage of backpackers rather than offering backpackers an advantage hiking the long trails.
VVR may be necessary for your plans, even if not recommended.
Top of the Mountain Services
For the past 18 years I have rated Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Vermilion Valley as equally excellent, though each has a different character and role along the long trails.
No longer. Character and services have significantly slipped at VVR. This fact was reflected by the Northbound backpackers I polled on my way down the Long Trails in 2009 and 2012. Kennedy Meadows stays about the same in on-trail backpacker ratings from year to year.
Carson Iceberg Wilderness to our North
Emigrant Wilderness to our South
A little bit of Heaven wedgedbetween Road, Trail, Rock, Water, and Sky
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
From the East
The well-marked road out to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station along Highway 108 is located 9.32 miles down the Western flank of Sierra along Highway 108 from Sonora Pass.
From the West
From the West Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is about 57 miles East of the town of Sonora along Highway 108.
Check out this sign below, at the Clarks Fork Junction for Eastbound drivers.
Down the Road
Kennedy Meadows is at the South end of a mile long road off the South side of Highway 108.
The route of Highway 108 up the West Flank of the Sierra from Pinecrest to Sonora Pass runs between the Southern boundary of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness and the Northern boundary of Emigrant Wilderness.
Sonora Pass is where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Highway 108 along the Sierra Crest where 108 crosses Crest between East and West Flanks.
TYT OFFSET across & down
Hiking the Tahoe to Yosemite TrailSouth through the Carson Iceberg Wilderness brings us to Highway 108 through Saint Marys Pass Trailhead. The Saint Marys Pass Trailhead lays about a mile West of Sonora Pass, and at 9440 feet it is about 200 feet lower than Sonora Pass.
Our trailhead continuing South on the TYT is offset 9 miles down the Western Flank of the Sierra along Highway 108.
The Southbound Tahoe to Yosemite Trail continues South through Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
This means that the routes of the PCT and TYT out of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness to our North give local hikers some excellent loop trips, while the PCT and TYT South through Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Sonora Pass offer the same for trips linking the PCT and TYT across Emigrant Wilderness.
Check the maps below.
See the google road map below, and especially the selection of maps and trail guide pages covering the trails North and South of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Free-Range horse at Kennedy Meadows, next to Phil's jeep.
One of Matt's horsepackers leading a group back to Kennedy Meadows after a week in the wilderness.
THE HEART of the WESTERN FLANK
Between Carson Iceberg and Emigrant
Kennedy Meadows is located on the Northern edge of the stunning beauty of the High Emigrant Wilderness just South of the deep isolation available within the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
While Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is well known as an important resupply spot in the North Sierra for Pacific Crest Trail hikers, it is actually located on the route of the other main route on the Sierra Crest between Lake Tahoe and Tuolumne Meadows: The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.
While the Pacific Crest Trail offers a classic route for exploring the Sierra Crest along the length of the Sierra Crest, the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail expands our scope of Sierra understanding through the grand sweeps it takes up and down the massive canyons of the West Flank of the Sierra, while the PCT stays up on the Sierra Crest.
Up and Down
While hikers along the PCT will hitchhike down to briefly visit KM for resupply as they continue along the Sierra Crest, Kennedy Meadows represents a mid-way point between two grand climbs back to the Sierra Crest for hikers along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.
TYT hikers approached Kennedy Meadows following the unmaintained, even untrailed, route up to the headwaters bowl of the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus River. From there we had to find the passage climbing out through the ring of cliffs surrounding the headwaters bowl.
Out of Kennedy Meadows
Once we get over Saint Marys Pass and down to Highway 108 to catch a ride to Kennedy Meadows we find ourselves again facing the climb from Kennedy Meadows to Brown Bear Pass.
Yosemite's Northern Bookend
Emigrant Wilderness wraps around the Northwestern Flank of the North Yosemite Backcountry. Emigrant Wilderness is composed of a series of massive high altitude granite ridges running for miles down the Western Flank of the Sierra from the Sierra Crest. The valleys between these massive granite ridges are dotted with crystal blue lake surrounded by thin fingers of dense forest and verdant High Sierra meadows.
A series of Cherry Creeks run along the valley bottoms.
The Emigrant Wilderness is truly a Wonderland.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station offers the best resources serving backpackers hiking around North and Northwestern Emigrant Wilderness, hikers coming North from Yosemite on the PCT or South on the TYT out of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness to Yosemite. Kennedy Meadows is perfectly situated to feed and fix up backpackers exploring the high altitude areas of the Emigrant and Southern Carson Iceberg Wilderness as well as the North Yosemite Backcountry.
Kennedy Meadows is perfectly situated to resupply and support long-distance high altitude backpackers on the PCT and TYT as well as shorter-distance backpackers hiking loops around the Carson Iceberg and High Emigrant Wilderness, which is a heck of a lot of fun.
Highway 108 Road Sign
at Clarks Fork Road
with Miles EAST
Above we see the road sign for Eastbound travelers at the intersection of Highway 108 with Clarks Fork Road. This intersection is located 8 miles West of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, as indicated.
We are getting close! Kennedy Meadows Pack Station Turnoff Highway 108
Eastbound drivers enter a beautiful cut/valley where the road runs along the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River for eight miles to the turnoff onto Kennedy Meadows Road.
Highway 108 begins its most serious climbing on its way to Sonora Pass where we drive East beyond
the Kennedy Meadows Road turnoff pictured above.
The topo hiking maps linked to above are high resolution and can be magnified for detailed examination. The red dots on the topo hiking map's trail routes link to the trail guide information for that specific location on the trail. The black-dotted trail routes on the 30 minute maps link to detailed maps of that area.
The labels on the map's edges link to the next map along our PCT-TYT routes.
The Sonora Pass Region Topo Map covers the extensive terrain the PCT and TYT cross approaching and departing Sonora Pass from the North and South of Highway 108. We can see that the Highway 108 corridor divides the Carson Iceberg Wilderness to its North from the Emigrant Wilderness to its South.
PCT vs. TYT
North of Highway 108
The Pacific Crest Trail crosses Highway 108 at Sonora Pass running along the Sierra Crest. While the route of the PCT is running along the Sierra Crest the Southbound TYT is climbing towards the Sierra Crest at Sonora Pass via the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus. The TYT is climbing up from its lower elevation route along the Western Flank of the Sierra to the Crest as it approaches Sonora Pass.
The TYT crosses the 10,400 foot Saint Marys Pass before descending to the 9400 Saint Marys Pass Trailhead along Highway 108. The Saint Marys Pass Trailhead is located just to the West of where the PCT crosses Sonora Pass' 9600 foot low gap in the Sierra Crestline.
This map shows routes of the TYT-PCT North of Sonora Pass to the Highway 108 Corridor:
PCT vs. TYT
South of Highway 108
The PCT continues South along the Sierra Crest after crossing Sonora Pass at the top of Highway 108. Unlike the PCT, the route of the TYT is not found by walking across Highway 108 from the Saint Marys Pass Trailhead. The route of the TYT continuing South is offset nine miles West down Highway 108 from the Saint Marys Pass Trailhead.
This map shows the relationship of the TYT route running North and South of Highway 108:
South of Highway 108
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hikers and resupplying Pacific Crest Trail hikers must hitch-hike nine miles West down Highway 108 to find the road out to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station. We follow that road about a mile to find the gate on the South end of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station where we can continue following the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail South into Emigrant Wilderness.
PCT hikers will stop at the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station...
The goal is to allow local and local long-distance backpackers to plan our classic trips along the Pacific Crest and Tahoe to Yosemite Trails both to the North of Kennedy Meadows into the Carson Iceberg Wilderness and South into the Emigrant Wilderness.
A cursory study of the maps above shows that many shorter trips can be created by tying the routes of the Pacific Crest and Tahoe to Yosemite Trails together to create unique and amazing trips North into the Carson Iceberg or South into the Emigrant Wilderness.
This place is bursting with backpacking potential.
Anoter goal of this guide is to pre-inform and give PCT hikers a degree of familiarity and understanding with the terrain you will be seeing as we hike between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney, and specifically, how to best access the goods and services at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station at Sonora Pass and along the Highway 108 corridor.
Context and Access
This primer is also designed put your upcoming experiences into a local and regional context to create a mental framework that will make it much easier to understand and remember what you've seen, so you can unblur and maintain fine distinction and a degree of clarity to a density and intensity of experiences along the Pacific Crest Trail that can defy the ability of memory to capture or the mind to understand.
Full Mental Jacket
This guide provides a basic mental-spacial framework that your long-distance PCT experiences from Tahoe to Whitney will fill and fit into, and hopefully give more meaning and depth of experience and long memory to the remarkable detail of your High Sierra experiences.
My goal here on this page is to get you access not just to the resources available at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, but to the future potential of what is found beyond the limits of the Pacific Crest Trail, to get you to come back and, "fill in the blanks," explore more of these wonders, and build the personal context to enjoy these environmental and physical resources to the fullest.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station Backpackers Rest, Refuel, and Resupply Resources
The People and the Things
A visual tour of the human resources at Kennedy Meadows and a talk with Matt Bloom.
High Quality KENNEDY MEADOWS HORSEPACKER SERVICES
ResourcesandServices For Backpackers on and Over
the Edge of our Wilderness
Kennedy Meadows is a fine combination of personal and physical resources, of dedicated people providing some pretty sophisticated services at the edge of nature.
Hot showers, clean clothes, cold beer, and good home cooking don't just appear out of nowhere so far off the grid. Despite all the fun I'm having at Kennedy Meadows there's a lot of people working real hard to keep this all going.
Hell, I worked like a horse and a mule to get here. I'm glad they are here.
Over the Edge
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station's services extend into the Wilderness. Matt's horsepackers set up backcountry camps, meet backpackers with supplies, and will support your extended backpacking endeavors as possible. I'm serious.
John and Sandy set up and run a custom horse camp
at Kennedy Lake during 2012
Matt has camps in different parts of Emigrant Wilderness each season. Check with the office for current status.
The horse camps are real nice in the rain!
Celeberities and You
When the CCC and Stanislaus Trail Crews move into the Emigrant backcountry Matt and his horsepackers keep them eating good. When Jerry Brown and his machine gun toting bodyguards needed a vacation during July of 2012 they came out and had Matt ride them out to a Kennedy Meadows Custom Horse Camp, like the one John and Sandy set up above.
I hope the cop knows Jerry can't hunt with the machine gun...
Jerry Brown at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Jerry Brown walks into the Kennedy Meadows Store before beginning
Horse-Packing Trip, July 2012. That's an undercover CHP bodyguard
in back next to his big sack with a big machine gun inside.
I've been Jerry-Jacked...
The Black Limo
Bulletproof horseshit hauler at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Kennedy Meadows Horsepacker Services
Matt Bloom can set you up in a custom Horse Camp, just like Jerry! Except you don't get machine-gun carrying guards! But you can set up the same excellent food and accomodations as Jerry did.
If your plans require that you bypass Kennedy Meadows, such as to save time hiking the PCT, or on a speed-hiking trip along the PCT, Matt can also ride out to resupply you on the trail.
The horsepacker resupply service can be handy when planning long-distance backpacking loops around Emigrant Wilderness. I've met family backpacking groups, as well as groups and individual hunters and fishermen who've extended their backcountry trips by receiving a horsepacker resupply out of Kennedy Meadows.
That's for folks who want to backpack and fish for two weeks without carrying the weight of 14 days' food.
You can arrange with Matt for a horsepacker to meet you or your hiking party with anything from a personal to a massive resupply anywhere from Ebbetts Pass to Tuolumne Meadows. I strongly suggest that you call Matt and arrange for a custom resupply.
A lot of local long distance backpackers use Matt's horsepackers to extend their backcountry backpacking trips around the Emigrant Wilderness and North Yosemite backcountry. There may be another excellent way for Emigrant Wilderness backpackers to extend their backcountry trips in the Emigrant Wilderness.
Backcountry Horse Camps
If you are planning an extensive loop of the Emigrant Wilderness (I can easily knock off a fifty miler around the Emigrant and feel like I've not scratched the surface), I strongly suggest that you call Joan or Mrs. Bloom in the office and find out where Matt's backcountry camps are located, and check to see if they can cook you up some hot food and/or pass along your resupply package when you hike by.
There is a possibility that we can send ourselves a resupply package to a backcountry horse camp. Each year Kennedy Meadows Pack Station establishes at least one Backcountry Horse Camp. If there is a camp near our route we can arrange for both food to eat when we pass through, as well as having our resupply horsepacked out to the camp for our pickup.
We can also arrange to have Kennedy Meadows ride out and deliver our resupply to us on the trail. I'd strongly suggest that Northbound PCT hikers adjust the final timing of this type of resupply with Kennedy Meadows via a phone call when the Northbound PCT hiker arrives at Tuolumne Meadows.
Our only limits for figuring out resupply are those set by our lack of imagination, time, fitness, and/or money. A hell of a lot of adventure comes out of a small but well considered combination of the above. If you have kids and/or friends that need a reset from the rigours of civilization, this is the cheapest medicine in the world. Don't fear, it will cost you in ways that money can't measure, that can only be counted by how you handle the blisters.
I know the guys and gals in the backcountry camps will always throw a passing backpacker a cup of coffee if they have any brewed up, along with good conversation spiced up with trail and fishing information. Matt's backcountry camps would love to cook you up a meal if they've been informed in advance and planned in the necessary supplies for your arrival.
Give Kennedy Meadows a call if you are hiking through or around the high altitude sections of the Emigrant Wilderness and want to know about how to extend your trip. As a solo long distance backpacker this is a bit beyond my scope. But if you are running 3 to 5 person hiking parties for trips of 10 to 15 days, a 7 day resupply delivered halfway through the trip works out to about 80 bucks per person, if my figuring is correct. Matt figures it by mules per day.
I once carried the full remaining food load for an unresupplied 11 day 181 mile Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hike through Kennedy Meadows. My pack was finally getting lighter by the time I reached Kennedy Meadows Pack Station on my way South from Tahoe. Though I did not resupply, I did eat two huge meals at Matt's fine restaurant. You don't have to do it my way, the hard way.
Matt and his boys (and his woman horsepacker and staff) can fix you up good on the trail, or you can use his resupply service to send yourself a resupply to the pack station itself for your personal pickup as you hike through on your way down the trail.
It's All Good at KM
Matt and his crew really enjoy supporting backpacking adventures. These guys love to ride the backcountry. Supplying your backpacking trip gives them a great excuse to ride some trails, do some hard work, have some fun, meet some good backpackers, and make some money.
We backpackers have to support the people on the edge of the trail who support us. Heck, Matt's operation extends its backpacker support deep into the wilderness.
The video below focuses on the physical resources and basic layout of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Resort. The video above concentrates more on the people who bring this place to life and make it happen.
Pacific Crest Trail hikers from New Zeland and US on Kennedy Meadows front porch, 2015.
First Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is far closer to Sonora Pass and much easier to get to than Bridgeport.
PCT Family Hiking Team
Lunch on the Side Porch
Double-D father son hiking team, Kennedy Meadows 2016. Food show and tell!
Look! Tortillias and Cheese!
Kennedy Meadows is also set up for you to send yourself a resupply bucket, or box, see below, at a too reasonable price. Next, we can join other Pacific Crest Trail hikers at the pinic tables to enjoy the bounty of our resupply spot while packing our resupply.
PCT Hikers packing Resupply
on the Picnic Tables
PCT hikers packing their resupply into their packs and bellies for next section of their hike North.
I can't tell you how good these things make me feel after a long section of high trails.
PCT Hiker in the Bunkhouse
A lot of PCT hikers really enjoy the bed, shower, and laundry of the bunkhouse deal.
Kennedy Meadows will point you to a nearby place to set up your camp, if you want to spend a couple of evenings resting, recharging, and feeding up. Kennedy Meadows Pack Station also rents cabins and even has a bunkhouse, just like the Old West days.
Singles in the bunkhouse start at 30 a night, and their smallest cabins go for 80.
PCT Hikers in a Cabin
Every now and then PCT hikers get together to rent a cabin and have a PCT party.
But don't worry about the cabins too much. Most have been reserved for years in advance by families and groups who have been spending quality time at Kennedy Meadows for generations. You may have a slim chance to rent a cabin during mid-week, but forget it on a weekend during the peak of Summer.
If you are really planning your trip out articulately, you may be able to reserve a cabin in advance for the time you plan on resupplying at Kennedy Meadows. If you are in Tuolumne Meadows heading North, and you decide you might want a night in a bed at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, give Joan or Mrs Bloom a call at 209 965 3900 from Tuolumne Meadows or Lake Alpine. They may be able to set you up with a nice little cabin to kick back in.
for Long Distance Backpacker North & South on the PCT andTYT
The common problem I see confronting PCT and TYT hikers is how to fit a resupply stop efficiently into our hiking plans. This really comes down to what you want from your resupply spot? Are you doing a "Hit and Run," stopping for only enough time to stuff new food into the pack and hit the trail? Are you planning on a day of rest and recovery?
Will we rush through at the fastest pace possible?
Do you have a plan? What's the plan?
I'm looking to pick up my resupply, recharge myself with plenty of good food, maybe drink a few beers with the horsepackers, rest for one full day off the trail, and hang out with the locals and hikers. And horsemen and fisherfolk and hunters, and so on...
OK, that's my plan.
For every character of resupply stop the best approach to the resupply spot is very important. This issue generally resolves itself into three simple questions: where to camp before arriving, during our stay, and after departing the resupply spot.
The locations of campsites North and South of each of our resupply spots along our trail route determine when we will arrive, where we will camp, and when we will depart every resupply spot up and down the trail.
Camping Before and After
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station Resupply
Campsites North and South
Hunter's Camp is 6.11 miles North of Sonora Pass, Latopie Lake is 3.07 miles South of Sonora Pass. We can find closer campsites to the North of Sonora Pass than Hunter's Camp if we are hiking South into Sonora Pass, but I will not camp near Wolf Creek Lake until late in the Summer when it has dried out completely. Mosquitoes. And there is no good water at Wolf Creek Lake early or late in the season. Hunters Camp is a superior campsite in every respect. If you can find it...
For those with longer aspirations the next great site North of Hunters Camp is the campsite a hundred yards down the unmarked East Carson River trail 8.74 miles North of Sonora Pass at the low point in our hike along the East Carson River.
Campsites South of Sonora Pass
When hiking North into Sonora Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail route, as is the typical PCT hikers, I try to post up 3.07 miles South of Sonora Pass at Latopie Lake the evening before arriving at Sonora Pass. From latopie Lake I can easily hike into Sonora Pass very early the next morning, but not so early that I beat the arrival of the first traffic on this remote road.
South of Latopie Lake, a bit further away from Sonora Pass, there are also two nice campsites along the route of the PCT below the South Flank of the Leavitt Massif in Kennedy Canyon. The first site is near the top of Kennedy Canyon located about 8.25 miles South of Sonora Pass, while the second site is 9.28 miles South of Sonora Pass located on the ford of Kennedy Creek about halfway down Kennedy Canyon.
Camping at either of these more-distant sites staging-up the night before our resupply stop at Sonora Pass entails a later arrival at Sonora Pass, and therefore a later arrival at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station than if we camped at Latopie Lake. I'd like to be able to arrive at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station in time make breakfast and kick back for the rest of a long, quiet, relaxing day.
Fresh eggs, potatoes, bacon and some serious chill-lax-ation.
One can always spend the night at Sonora Pass, though we are not supposed to camp there. Water is a bit distant. We will have to cross to the South side of Highway 108 and hike a bit South on the PCT to the seasonal creek draining off the North face of the Leavitt Massif laying a short ways South down the PCT from Sonora Pass.
PCT rerouted across Sonora Pass, 2015
My hiking plan for hiking Northbound on the PCT route into Sonora Pass generally involves putting myself into a location where I can reach Sonora Pass as early as possible the next morning when there will be cars available to hitch a ride West down Highway 108 to Kennedy Meadows. That typicall means camping at Latopie Lake.
I am really happy if I make the breakfast cutoff at Kennedy Meadows. They make great breakfasts at Kennedy Meadows, and I'm real hungry and generally low on food after hiking the 75 miles North up from Tuolumne Meadows. So it's Latopie Lake for my last campsite prior to reaching Highway 108, if everything works out properly.
Camping at Sonora Pass
If we rush to push up to Sonora Pass late in the evening for an early ride down to Kennedy Meadows the next morning we may have wasted our time and energy. The sparse traffic on Highway 108 does not even begin to hit 3 cars an hour until after 9 am, though I always wake up at first light on the trail.
The local folks will pick us up, up there, and the country environment even seems strong enough to pull the stick far enough out of the city people passing through Sonora Pass that even some of them will pick up backpackers. Remarkable!
The country-natural environment makes people nicer, and opens them up a bit.
Backpacker and Tourist
It's not like there is any mystery about what we're doing at Sonora Pass standing by the road. Yea, that's a big-ass wilderness pack... and I'm the grubby backpacker carrying it across the mountains. This is pretty clear to every observer excepting the stupidest city tourists. There are lots of them... but their numbers thin out the higher we go up the mountains.
In any case, pushing hard to get to Sonora Pass makes no sense if we are out of timing with the flow of traffic. I'd much rather spend the evening enjoying Latopie Lake than rushing to Sonora Pass.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station R & R RestandResupply
My Resupply Plan is to spend at least one full day doing nothing at each resupply spot. No pack, no hiking, no climbing, no nothing. Sitting. Eating. Drinking. If I hike more than 5 miles on the way in I consider that a "work day," and spend two nights at the resupply spot. The next day will be my "zero" day. My approach requires having a fine place to camp at each resupply spot.
Many backpackers show up at the edge of civilization looking like a fish out of water.
Have a plan to make your rest days as effective as your hiking days!
Most hikers have no idea about the camping policies and practices at the resupply spots or the availability and location of places backpackers seeking rest can camp. Trust me, there are free backpacker campsites near all the resupply spots. Not knowing the situation makes backpackers uncertain about how to proceed. Let's dispel that uncertainty.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station Backpacker
First thing the arriving long-distance backpacker has to do, if we are kicking it, is to secure a quiet and restful campsite, a secure place to stash our gear. Arriving at Kennedy Meadows we will seek the back porch, which is where long distance and local backpackers stash their packs. Then we will likely move directly to the resturant, where we will find delicious food. After that we will mosey over to the store to obtain some tasty treats and drinks, and assure our resupply package is in stock.
At that point of satisfaction our mind will move on to our next priority, and we will consider obtaining a shower and washing our clothes, which leads to figuring out where we will spend the night.
I see four options for kicking back at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Backpacker Bunkhouse Deal
Matt has a bunkhouse in the main building where backpackers can rent a bunk. It's 35 bucks a bunk, and comes with the use of the shower and laundry. Each of the bunkhouse rooms hold five people, so you will likely be bunking with other Pacific Crest Trail hikers if you're there in early to mid Summer. If you've got five hikers who all want to chip in for a bunk you can rent one of the bunkhouse rooms for your hiking team.
Matt also has cabins backpackers can rent, but they are mostly reserved for the Summer, and they sleep six... If you are planning a long hiking trip and you know when you will pass through Kennedy Meadows, or you are beginning and ending backpakcing trips through Kennedy Meadows you can try to reserve a cabin for those dates.
But it is hard to keep on schedule on the long trails and it is even harder to reserve a cabin at Kennedy Meadows. If you are sure of your dates, and it's mid-week away from a major holiday you may be able to reserve a cabin. For more information about the cabins, bunkhouse, the resupply package service, or what's in the store and restaurant call Joan or Mrs Bloom.
I've seen groups of PCT hikers pitch in together to rent an available cabin quite a number of times. But you prefer to camp out under the stars if you are anything like me.
There is no formal backpacker camping at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station. The nearest locations Kennedy Meadows will suggest is the National Forest Deadman Campground, which is located 3/4ths of a mile North back up the road just short of arriving at Highway 108.
There are also fine campsites a mile South down the TYT past the Kennedy Meadows gate scattered all around where the National Forest Kennedy Meadows Trailhead is located.
I've also got a couple of secret self-stash places nearby, but hey, I've got to have a few secrets... (hint: log crossing...) If you are not a pain in the ass and you camp about nobody gripes... but if you trash the area or are disruptive you are out of there.
The common answer we get from Joan or Mrs. Bloom to the question of nearby backpacker camping is,
"There are campsites in the federal Deadman Campground 3/8ths of a mile down the road towards Highway 108."
I understand that a car camping site at Deadman is 18 bucks a night. Joan and Mrs. Bloom in the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station office will inform other hikers who arrive afterwards that there are PCT hikers willing to share a federal campsite at Deadman Campground and its costs, as they will if backpackers want to go in to rent a bunkhouse room or cabin.
I also understand that there are more private sites at Deadman Campground near the trailhead parking that are used as "overflow" sites when the main campground is full.
That's the campsite behind, to the East, of the trailhead parking for the Kennedy Meadows trailhead located at the Deadman Campground.
Camping at Deadman is terribly unsatisfying to me. First, because I do not want to be so far away from cold beer and hot food during a rest and resupply stop. Second, I don't want to put any miles on my legs during a rest and resupply stop walking back and forth for cold beer and hot food. I want to camp a couple of minutes easy walk from the rest and resupply resources I find so enjoyable.
Pirate Camping at Kennedy Meadows
The Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River has fine sandy beaches soft and comfortable to the West across the meadow from the main Kennedy Meadows building that we can ask Matt about camping on. If we push in late at night the beach will be our target.
Make sure you mark out the required distance from the water.
If the beach does not look good or proper, and the car campground sounds as bad to you as it does to me, then hike South towards the gate and look at the river. You will see a rather large tree has fallen across and well bridged the river. Hike down and cross the river on the tree. You are now in a kind of wasteland under dense forest created by the overflow of the river every Spring.
Look around for a flat soft sandy spot you can shape up into a place for your sleeping pad, and kick back.
Ok, you've made your camp, assured that your resupply bucket is in the store, and eaten a big meal. What now?
Nap-time! Back to the campsite to watch the day pass by on its own, to put the feet up, and soak up experience from a non-moving perspective until we feel like eating again.
Locals work at Kennedy Meadows and at all the pack stations and other resupply points up and down the High Sierra Crest. They have local knowledge, as do the local trail crews. Striking up friendly conversations and picking their brains about the upcoming trails and terrain is always a good idea.
We'll hear about good things to look out for, and check out down the trail.
Below we see Alicia herding the main desk and its monster ledger.
The Lobby is a nice place to have a comfortable seat, hang out, and enjoy some pack station socialization.
To the Right is Joan, who along with Mrs Bloom keeps Kennedy Meadows running smoothly along with Matt and Marty, among an engaged staff.
If we have any questions about Kennedy Meadows, their backpacker services, food, store, or accommodations we can call Joan or Mrs Bloom, and receive the best and most accurate information and excellent service.
Both are quite methodically determined to get you the best information and services they can possibly provide.
And now we have Alicia...
If you have any questions, give them a call at
209 965 3900
Joan is an excellent resource, or she will point you in the correct direction!
The center of Kennedy Meadow's operations are the Pack Station.
The Pack Station supports a wide range of backcountry and local equesterian activities.
The majority of daily action at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is centered on local riding activites consisting of trail rides up to a day in length or as short as 75 minutes.
These local rides span local routes from Kennedy Meadows
to the nearby Kennedy Lake or Relief Reservoir, to extended rides bringing you for a day- long tour across the Emigrant Wilderness high country.
The remainder of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station's horsepacking activites support various backcountry activites. Kennedy Meadows supports and resupplies Trail Crew Camps and other official federal activites in Emigrant Wilderness, as well as private trips.
Kennedy Meadows offers in the field resupply for backpacking, camping, hunting, and fishing expeditions.
At Right is the dispatching station where mules are loaded to pack supplies into the High Emigrant Wilderness backcountry.
Ample Stock for your Missions
Matt and his crew will set you up with the stock and gear you need to get and keep you in the backcountry.
I have a pal that's a mule at Kennedy Meadows.
Fun for Kids of all Ages
The kids love the trail rides up to Relief Reservoir
Emigrant & Carson Iceberg
The Final Steps
Four backpacking routes to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station on the Main High Sierra Trails
Two routes from the North--Two routes from the South
There are four main distinct routes long distance backpackers use to approach the resources at Kennedy Meadows. These are the North and Southbound trails of the main Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trail routes.
The TYT and PCT trace out four distinct, unique routes coming into and out of the Highway 108 corridor. Only one line of these trails tracks through Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, the Southbound Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. The other three trails, consisting of the North and Southbound Pacific Crest Trail and the Northbound TYT all intersect with Highway 108 at or near Sonora Pass on the Sierra Crest.
The Pacific Crest Trail crosses Sonora Pass on its route along the Sierra Crestline. The Southbound Tahoe to Yosemite Trail finishes its climb up the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus by crossing Saint Marys Pass before descending to its trailhead about three-quarters of a mile West down Highway 108 from Sonora Pass.
We can hike the classic routes of any of these trails to its trailhead along the Sonora Pass corridor. Or we can use any one of them to craft a very wide range of unique local and long distance backpacking trips reaching North or South of the Sonora Pass corridor.
Kennedy Meadows Crossroads
At Kennedy Meadows Pack Station we will encounter long-distance hikers resupplying off of both the North and Southbound Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trail routes. Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hikers are the rarest.
The Pacific Crest Trail passes North and South through Sonora Pass nine miles to the East of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, while only the Northern Tahoe to Yosemite Trailhead is located near Sonora Pass. The TYT route South continues through Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Everyone hiking the PCT or Southbound TYT has to hitch down the West flank from the Sierra Crest to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, except those Northbound hikers on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. The Northbound TYT hikes into Kennedy Meadows.
Though the main annual burst of Summertime Hiker Traffic resupplying at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station will consist of PCTers hiking North on the PCT through Sonora Pass, there are also plenty of other hikers crafting their own unique long and short distance hikes using elements of the TYT and PCT routes around the Emigrant and Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
Besides being an excellent resupply spot for long distance hikers on the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trails Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is also the perfect place to begin or resupply short and middle-distance backpacking trips around the Carson Iceberg Wilderness to our North and the Emigrant to our South.
Through Saint Marys Pass, Sonora Pass, and
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Trail Guide information
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
When the Southbound TYT hiker reaches Saint Marys Pass, about a mile West of Sonora Pass on Highway 108, you now face a 8.32 mile hitch hike down to the Kennedy Meadows Road to both pick up your resupply and continue South on the TYT route.
Highway 108 is a very narrow road full of hard turns and switchbacks, and there are some damn stupid people driving on it. It is a dangerous road to walk, especially during the tourist season.
I strongly suggest hitching a ride down to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, rather than walking down Highway 108. If you don't like either hitching or walking down Highway 108 you are stuck between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.
into Sonora Pass to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
North of Sonora Pass
Hitching to KM
Three dogs rushed out of the forest at me. I took aggresive command of the situation, isolating and rushing the dog on the Left. They all retreated and ran to cover & sheltered, freaked out. But they all wagged their tails in unison when I said, "Good Dogs!" Steve rode up behind, profusely apologizing for his dogs. No problem. They were as shocked to see me as I them. They were looking for cows, not backpackers.
Steve and his dogs were rounding up his stock from their grazing lease between Saint Marys Pass and the rock wall that composes the Western shore of the East Carson River.
Steve is a hell of a nice guy. And, his dogs were good, after me and the dogs got over the shock of running into each other in the wilderness.
As I was approaching Sonora Pass, I resumed my push for Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, my next rest and resupply spot.
After getting by Steve and his dogs, I made my way to Sonora Pass, where I posted up to hitch hike down to Kennedy Meadows. I was really looking forward to a chile-cheese burger, and a fine Rest and Resupply Break.
I meet the best people hitchhiking around the wilderness.
After a short wait at the Sonora Pass, Mr. Damien Burford picked me up and drove me all the way out to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Damien was up in the mountains camping to scout out the upcoming deer Season.
Hummingbird feeding at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station on the Pacific Crest
and TahoetoYosemite Trails
Map and Guide
Northbound routes to
Kennedy Meadows on the Main High Sierra Trails: PCT & TYT
This topic mainly concerns resupplying
Our main concern is navigating the distance from the PCT crossing Highway 108 at Sonora Pass West down to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Resort to pick up our resupply, properly rest and feed ourselves, and get back on the trail as smoothly as possible.
But we have other route options...
Though most PCT hikers are unaware of the set of route options for hiking directly into Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, these connections linking the routes of the Tahoe to Yosemite and PCT across Emigrant Wilderness open up some nice terrain for long distance backpackers passing through or staying within Emigrant Wilderness.
They also allow PCT hikers to walk directly into
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Resort.
Pacific Crest Trail
Hitch Hiking to
If we are Northbound on the PCT, it's easy:
Where the PCT crosses Highway 108 at the Sonora Pass, we stick our thumbs out to hitch-hike 9.32 miles West, down to the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station road.
It's a little less than a mile from Highway 108 to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Resort down the road.
Hiking the TYT
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station from Bond Pass
TYT to Kennedy Meadows
PCT hikers can walk trails directly to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station from the PCT, if we veer off of the PCT route onto the the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail by hiking over Bond Pass at the top of Jack Main Canyon.
Following the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route North passes right through Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Hiking through the Emigrant Basin is an excellent alternative to the PCT, if we are heading down to Kennedy Meadows for resupply or not.
If not, and we just want to hike across the Emigrant Basin we can cross Bond Pass on our way to climb Big Sam, which is an alternate route North to the PCT to Sonora Pass, or part of some big circle route you've thought up...
This route over Big Sam brings us across theEmigrant Basin to reconnect with the PCT at the Kennedy Canyon trail junction on the South side of the Leavitt Massif, between Big Sam and Leavitt Peak.
Back to the TYT?
From there we can hike West past Kennedy Lake to intercept the route of the TYT about two miles South of Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
North along the Crestline?
To stay on the Sierra Crest we would follow the PCT North from Kennedy Canyon trail junction over Leavitt Peak to Sonora Pass.
Unique Alternative Route
This route across Bond Pass and over Big Sam followed by Leavitt Peak to Sonora Pass keeps us on the Sierra Crest as it tracks across the Emigrant Wilderness, rather than going around it along the standard PCT route from Dorothy Lake to Kennedy Canyon.
PCT PERMIT NOTE
PCT hikers will have to pick up a permit at Tuolumne Meadows for any variations off the PCT corridor if they decide to follow the route of the TYT over Bond Pass and down to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
to Yosemite Trail
The Northbound Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, (The Yosemite to Tahoe Trail?) hikes into Kennedy Meadows Pack Station along the standard route of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.
Rather than following the PCT through Dorothy Lake Pass at the top of Jack Main Canyon, we turn Northwest climbing t through Bond Pass into the Emigrant Basin of Emigrant Wilderness.
We hike Northwest, keeping to our Right passing the Snow Lake and Horse Meadow junctions, then turn left at the third junction we encounter.
Mix and Match
Our own Custom Route
Hiking North to
Best of Both Trails
The Tahoe to Yosemite route varies from the PCT at the head of Jack Main Canyon, where the TY Trail crosses Bond Pass, rather than the PCT route through Dorothy Lake Pass.
The routes will not rejoin again until Carson Pass.
If a PCT hiker wants to walk into Kennedy Meadows, rather than hitch down from Sonora Pass, they can catch the Tahoe to Yosemite Route to Kennedy Meadows through Bond Pass as mentioned at Left, but there is also another way to hike into Kennedy Meadows.
Independent of which route you choose to get there, Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is a superior option for setting up a comprehensive long distance resupply support in the Highway 108 corridor than heading East to Bridgeport.
Our trail options point North, South, East, and West.
Kennedy Canyon and the Southbound PCT turn East, down Kennedy Canyon to cross the 9.51 miles South to our entrance into the Northwestern corner of Yosemite's Jack Main Canyon through Dorothy Lake Pass.
Grizly Peak Trail Junction
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
The Grizley Peak trail junction location on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail 13.83 miles South of Kennedy Meadows offers local backpackers hiking options in every direction on our compass.
We can hike North to the PCT crossing Sonora Pass, South to the PCT into the Northwestern corner of Yosemite, East to cross the PCT into the Toiyabe and its Hoover Wilderness, and Southwest to descend the Western Flank through the beauties of Emigrant Wilderness.
Continuing South on the TYT brings us through Bond Pass to the Pacific Crest Trail in the Northwestern corner of Yosemite.
Links the PCT in Jack Main Canyon of Yosemite to the route of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail crossing the Emigrant Wilderness.
Our TYT route South from Kennedy Meadows up through Brown Bear Pass and across Emigrant Basin crosses Bond Pass to link up with the route of the PCT in Jack Main Canyon.
Bond Pass is the furthest point where Southbound hikers on long backpacking loops out of Kennedy Meadows would cross into Jack Main Canyon to make their turn towards home to follow the Northbound PCT to the selected final leg of our route back to Kennedy Meadows.
Our options would be to turn back to the TYT via Emigrant Pass up to Grizzly Peak, or continuing South on the PCT to the Kennedy Canyon trail junction.
From the Kennedy Canyon trail junction our most direct route back to Kennedy
Meadows would be via Kennedy Lake, our longest by climbing South over Big Sam South back to the TYT at Grizzly Peak trail junction, or continuing North along the PCT to Sonora Pass...
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Road junction with
Off the South Side of Highway 108
Above we are looking Westbound down Highway 108 across the turnoff to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Note the dense smoke clinging to the mountainside from the big Arnold fire of 2009.
I was standing at the position above watching birds (and everything else) while hitch-hiking back up to Sonora Pass. I was continuing my Tahoe to Whitney hike after resupplying at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.
Drive East to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station up Historic Highway 108
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station:
I love this place!
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
A spot of fine hospitality, resupply, food, and rest near the Sierra Crest: I love this place!
Stueve Organic Dairy wagon giving rides and having fun in front of Main Building. Restaurant to the Right of the Lobby, Store to the Left of the lobby. The bar building sits in the distance beyond the back of the wagon.
at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Resort
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station: Cowboy Culture
The Best Resupply Spot on the Trail
OK, Kennedy Meadows is not your typical Backpacker-centric resupply along the trail, as is Vermillion, Muir, Red's and Tuolumne Meadows.
Kennedy Meadows is quite different.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is a High Sierra Horse Packer's little bit of Heaven.
Kennedy Meadows feels just right to the Horseman, Hunter, Rancher, and Cowboy, as well as any anyone smart enough to have Matt's crew Horse-Pack them into Yosemite's Northern Backcountry Borderlands:
The Emigrant Wilderness.
As you may have picked up on previous pages, I take two nights off at every resupply point. This is especially nourishing at Kennedy Meadows.
As I usually arrive late, after hiking in the first day, I take a second day off, a day completely off the trail with zero miles at Kennedy Meadow Pack Station.
The reason I hang at Kennedy Meadows for two nights and one full day off are quite simple:
I work a hell of a lot harder on the trail than on any job. A full day off a week is not too much to ask for, and Kennedy Meadows is the best place to rest and recover.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is the ideal rest and resupply spot for me.
There are many reasons that Kennedy Meadows is tied for first place as the best resupply point between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney.
I would not be wrong if I cited the excellent showers, which are always clean and have endless hot water, with soap and towels.
Nor the excellent laundry facilities.
The food is the best on the trail, and very reasonably priced. Hell, Kennedy Meadows even has a Saloon.
But it is none of those things that make Kennedy Meadows Pack Station so comfortable to me.
It is the country character of Kennedy Meadows and the cowboy hospitality of people who work there, combined with the friendliness of the many good people who have been coming up to the cabins for generations.
In the final analysis, It is Matt Bloom and his family, friends, staff and long time visitors that make Kennedy Meadows a special place to visit.
If you are coming from out of state, or from out of the country, to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you miss the Kennedy Meadows Experience.
All of these cultural and social amenities sit within the reason all of us visit Kennedy Meadows, from me, the traveling solo long-distance backpacker, through every one of the horse packers and vacationers in the cabins, and finally to Matt and his staff:
The Special Beauty of the High Sierras across Emigrant Wilderness.
Kennedy Meadows is a special place, in a special place.
Package Resupply Service at the
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
PCT-TYT RESUPPLY PACKAGE SERVICE
Your resupply package to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station must be sent
via United Parcel Service:
Resupply Packages must
be addressed as follows:
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
57 miles East of Sonora
On the outside of your resupply bucket make sure that both the Kennedy Meadows address above along with your name and return address are plainly visible, that it is labeled PCT RESUPPLY, and that your expected date of arrival at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is noted.
$15, payable upon pickup, a bit more if your package is huge, or it sits there for a long time.
Call it the PIA charge. If you package is a pain in the ass it costs more.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Backpacker Lodging Deal
Long Distance Backpacker Deal THE BUNKHOUSE
Kennedy Meadows has a cowboy-style bunkhouse they use to put up horsepacking clients prior to, and even after various types of horsepacking trips.
If not already full up with horse-clients and backpackers, Kennedy Meadows will set up PCT and other long distance backpackers with a bed in one of their bunkhouse rooms, and throw in a shower with towel, along with a load of laundry for 35 dollars.
Shower, Laundry, and a Warm Bed for 35 bucks!
Find that in the city...
There are five beds per bunkhouse room.
Stay in a Cabin
Though I camp out at KM, you may be able to rent a bunkhouse bed or a cabin when you hike through.
What's your plan? If you know for sure when you will be hiking through this Summer, and especially if your date is mid-week on an off-holiday week, you may be able to reserve a cabin.
Joan (runs the office) will tell you to walk 3/4's of a mile to the Deadman Forest Service car campground, or rent a bed in the bunkhouse. I prefer to both camp out and stay much closer to the center of action at the lodge
Want to skip Kennedy Meadows? Personally, I enjoy a couple of days of rest, relaxation, eating, and one full day with zero miles. But many PCT hikers don't want to get off the trail. If that describes you, then Casey Cox, the founder of Sonora Pass Resupply, has something for you.
Sonora Pass Resupply offers a package delivery service to Sonora Pass.
"Our fee will be $50 for a resupply of up to 25 lbs. Approximately $10 more for mailing a bear canister. Add-on items are charged on a cost plus basis when ordered. By order we can supply practically anything that can be legally transferred, from tweezers, stove fuel, to a replacement backpack."
Not the Best Reviews
Hiking through Kennedy Meadows a couple of time during 2015 brought some harsh comments and complaints from PCT backpackers about Sonora Pass Resupply. These PCT hikers believed and expressed the opinion that they were being taken advantage of by a "scammer," by someone who was willing to take advantage of their position far from "civilized" ammenities to charge them too much, and rip them off by paying too low a price for their bear canister.
Some PCT hikers felt the pricing for purchasing their bear canisters was unfair.
This involved SPR offering to purchase PCT hiker's now unneeded bear canisters, as departing Yosemite ends the legal requirement to carry bear protection. More than a couple of backpackers felt taken advantage of. I posted up an email to Casey inquiring as to his position after hearing these "reviews" by PCT hikers during 2015.
In my email I suggested his prices were a reflection of his high costs supporting his van running up and down the Western Flank of the Sierra. I suggested that maybe Casey could explain to the backpackers he encountered and did buisness with about his high operating costs to offer trailside services could offset the perception some backpackers expressed of being taken advantage of.
I spoke to a couple of snotty "PCT Trail Angels" at Sonora Pass, along with a PCT hiker. The PCT hiker expressed the opinion that, "business is business," as to Sonora Pass Resupply taking advantage of hikers. This PCT hiker was some "bigwig" PCT hiker who apparently edited a PCT video.
I did not agree. What you do and how you treat man and Nature defines who you are.
I can tell you that Kennedy Meadows Pack Station will not rip you off.
My opinion is clear:
I come to the mountains to get away from asshole ripoffs and egotistical parasites, not feed them...
But I feel we may have a lack of communication between Sonora Pass Resupply and PCT hikers.
On Front Porch and/or in the Office
Kennedy Meadows DOES NOT HAVE WI-FI nor CELL SERVICE, but will provide a charge for your devices.
CORRECTION; I believe some cell providers can get email and text?
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Laundry and Showers
Backpacker Resources Done Right
Kennedy Meadows is a full service pack station and cowboy/rancher/farmer resort. Half of the Valley-and all of Oakdale-seems to come up to Kennedy Meadows to get out of the Valley Heat during the Summer.
And Kennedy Meadows is Ready!
Five Dollars + 1 for Towel
To properly support their horse-packing operations, including clients returning from the backcountry, as well as providing fresh linen and towels for their cabins, Kennedy Meadows has top quality showers and laundry facilities.
The showers have
Unlimited HOT water.
This works out very well for long-distance backpackers, who will enjoy the best facilities on the trail at Kennedy Meadows, outside of getting a hotel in Mammoth Lakes.
Shower units are in a clean private room with bench, sink, toilet and shower. It is a very nice set-up, and very clean and tidy.
Each shower unit has a can of lysol, to disinfect the floor, which is always clean...but Kennedy Meadows pays attention to details.
Pay in the lobby for either Shower or Laundry, and you will get a ticket to bring to Miguel.
If you are sending yourself a resupply package at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and Resort, you may want to consider just what little things will make your shower better.
A nice little travel bottle of shampoo, a little travel bar of good soap, and maybe a little bottle of moisturizer to sooth your mountain-lashed skin would be very nice.
The Laundry facilities are in the same building as the showers. This is the building behind the main lodge.
This is Miguel, who runs the laundry-showers building.
As the cabins and horse-packer operations have priority over all other laundry, you must check with Miguel to see if and when you can throw your load in.
That's generally immediately.
Note the receipt for my load of laundry in Miguel's hand...
Suggestions for long distance backpackers
To our Left Sally brings excellent service while Bloom's daughter looks on and helps.
Be it Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner, Kennedy Meadows serves the finest food on the trail between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney.
Quality Food, Quality Service, and Prices that reflect Matt Bloom's sense of fairness characterize the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station Restaurant.
If you are hiking through Sonora Pass, I highly recommend that you head down to Kennedy Meadows for an overnighter, even if you did not send yourself a resupply package via Kennedy Meadows.
If you get there in time for lunch, you can stuff yourself with a lunch and a dinner the first day, camp next to the river, and then have a nice big fat breakfast the next morning, before you head back up to Sonora Pass and continue your long hike.
This will recharge your mind and body, without depleting your food Supply.
Classic experiences on the
Edge of the Trail
Matt Bloom, during a rare moment when you see him in his own Saloon. The reason was Mr. Stueve, who insisted on buying Matt and I a beer, after Mr. Stueve spent a few hours of giving kids, backpackers, and everyone else a ride on his four-Percheron drawn Milk Wagon around Kennedy Meadows.
Casey is tied for best bartender between Lake Tahoe and Mount Whitney. That's the Saloon to the Right.
Casey passed away and will be missed.
Deborah, tending bar at the Lake Alpine Lodge, is also awesome.
Deb has moved away...
Stan the Man, driving around with Alice, in preparation for Marty's Birthday Party.
Kennedy Meadows is a self-contained mountain culture.
Marty's Birthday Party.
Marty is one of Matt's Horse Packers. He is a quiet, serious guy. Matt and the rest of the staff threw him a great Birthday Party. BBQ flank steak, pico de gallo, and lots of tequila.
A self-contained mountain society springs up every Summer.
The Walk'n Wades: You will find Backpackers of every age, type, and description passing through Kennedy Meadows.
Here we see a backpacking family.
Though the generations pass one into the other, it's nice to see a constant flow of parents and kids through Kennedy Meadows door and trailhead.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station:
Where Trucks are exchanged for Horses, and Pens for Guns.
I wish I took more pictures last September, 2009, when hunters dominated Kennedy Meadows.
As Fall opens the hunters begin scouting and prepping for the upcoming season.
My apologies to all the people not mentioned or pictured here.
Many of Kennedy Meadow's regulars walk on all four. Oz and Quince are good dogs.
Dogs are big part of Kennedy Meadows culture.
Cowboys Kicking it after work. That's Colin and Chuckwagon. The picture to the Right is Chuckwagon's Chuckwagon...
Kennedy Meadows preserves mule and horse packing life and culture.
The Science Team:
Alice, Phil, and Maya
Alice was doing fieldwork for her PhD in Geology in the Dardanelles during the Summer of 2009.
We find a regular stream of scientific researchers up and down the Sierra.
The Saloon Parties, or the Saloon is Dead, but it's always classic country on the jukebox.
The saloon has the look and feel of a lost era. As do many of the folks we find at the bar.
Kennedy Meadows has off and on sale liquor, wine, and beer.
The Stueve's, Guy and Gage. Guy and Gage own and operate Stueve's Organic Dairy, which is part of the Organic Valley CROPP Cooperative.
Check out Organic Valley Dairy brand for really fine milk and dairy products.
It's too bad you can't taste the raw milk their dairy produces. It is the finest milk I have ever tasted.
The Stueve's have been coming up, riding, practicing the arts of big horses and wagon, and kicking back and having fun at Kennedy Meadows for generations.
We can see the next gen and the last, and everything in-between at KM.
Historical marker at Kennedy Meadows concerns Emigrants of 1852-1853.
THE EMIGRANTS OF 1852-1853
Originating from Ohio & Indiana the Clark Skidmore Party of 1852, 75 people & 13 four-mule wagons-was the 1st wagon trail to cross the Sierra-Nevada via the Walker River-Sonora Route, 35 days were spent to blaze a trail of 60 miles over this roughest of the Sierra Crossings. They filled ravines with tons of rock, dug a trench to drain Fremont Lake to enable passage around a cliff. Twice, nearly starving, men were sent to Sonora-Columbia for food and road building supplies. Many deserted and on Sept 10, 1852 the 15 remnants rolled into Columbia cheered on the last miles by 300 citizens and a brass band.
The route in brief: Leavitt Meadow, Freemont Lake, Emigrant Meadow Lake, Brown Bear Pass, down Summit Creek, Relief Valley, Whitesides Meadow, Burst Rock, Bell Meadow, Miwuk Ridge, N. Twain Harte, Phoenix Lake, Sonora, Columbia.
Early Summer of 1853, Geo. W. Patrick, Sonora's 2nd Mayor, met a wagon train bearing his wife & daughters at the Carson River. Convincing the group to take the Sonora Rt. He was nearly lynched when the going got tough.
The Rt. was described as "strewn with wreckage of prairie schooners, oxen yoke & bleached animal bones. One of his daughters died from the ordeal and the grave of B.S Hubbs can still be found 1/4 mile above Saucer Meadow.
That Summer Approx. 600 wagons, 2400 emigrants and 19,000 head of cattle used this route. Notable parties:
If you have experiences, comments, questions, or pictures and videos about resupplying on the Tahoe to Yosemite or Pacific Crest Trails at one of my favorite resupply spots, Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, post up here as an unknown hiker or as a member: