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~~Last updated February 2009~~
Camping with your horse is a great way to REALLY get to know your horse, his habits, and subtle nuances. In the book, "Horse, Follow Closely" by Gawani Pony Boy, the first exercise is to "spend a day with your horse". Not riding, not training, not talking, petting, feeding, etc., but just observing. You will learn all you need to know about his personality, preferences, fears and friends. Camping will also lend itself to "living" with your horse for a few days. This closeness is invaluable in future training and communications.

Camping around the Tahoe Basin and outlying areas:

For such a wonderful and vast area with a wealth of interlaced riding trails, the camping options in the Tahoe Basin with your horses are rather limited, but there are a few places I will outline below.

Bayview Campground (Fee Area)

Hwy. 89/North. Located on Highway 89 at Emerald Bay, Bayview campground has two Forest Service pipe corrals located at the rear of a small oval campground. Typically, the corrals are for loading/unloading stock in preparation of packing into Desolation Wilderness, but I've never seen anyone using them. The campground itself will usually fill up, so try to be flexible and arrive early in the day to snag a campspot. Piped water is available. No grazing. The trailhead leads into the heart of Desolation via a steep, switchback trail, but a very nice, short ride up the trail leads to a magnificent overlook high above Emerald Bay (a mandatory photo stop), then a bit further is Granite Lake. Another steep climb up to the saddle awards you with views of Desolation. See Bayview Trailhead for more information in the Trails section.


Oniedas/Saxon Creek (Free) UPDATE: As of Jan. 2004, camping is no longer allowed in this area, but the riding is still good -- day parking only.

Hwy. 50/Meyers. Forest Service area off of Pioneer Trail, South Lake Tahoe. Follow Oniedas street into the Forest until you reach the first wide, paved pullout on the left. Trails are used by OHV's and mountain bikes, but are also fun on the horses. See Powerline Trails and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for trail info. Water available in Saxon Creek (filter for human use), and limited grazing around the creek area.

Luther Pass Overflow Campground (Free)

Hwy. 89/South. This Forest Service camping area has limited parking and an outhouse. It is a small camping area, but its location is near the Big Meadow Trailhead that has wonderful trails, both north and south on the Tahoe Rim Trail, with access to the Pacific Crest Trail, and into Meiss Country. Water is available from Grass Lake Creek, but is difficult to get to. Grazing available through the trees at Cookhouse Meadow. Limited parking for large rigs.

Hope Valley/Scott Lake (Free)

Hwy. 89/88 junct. Undeveloped "free" dispersed camping is available throughout the Hope Valley area, and at Scott Lake. Access to the Meiss Country is through Scott Lake to Big Meadow. Water available at the West Fork of the Carson River which runs through Hope Valley and up at Scott Lake. Grazing available throughout Hope Valley, seasonally.

Forestdale Creek (Free)

Hwy. 88. Access at Red Lake, bottom of Carson Pass, Highway 88. Follow dirt road 1.5 miles to just past the Forestdale Creek bridge. Pull to the right and find some nice camping spots. Trails includes riding up the dirt road to Forestdale Divide, down into Summit City Canyon, accessing the Pacific Crest Trail, Lost Lakes/Blue Lakes area and east to Faith Valley. Water available at Forestdale Creek and grazing available in scattered areas along the creek.

Schneider Cow Camp (Free)

Hwy. 88. Access through the Caples Lake Maintenance station, Highway 88, west of Carson Pass. This rough 4-wheel drive road leads to an old barn in a meadow which makes for some nice horsecamping. Trails lead into Meiss Country, the Pacific Crest Trail, Showers Lake and over to Strawberry (on Highway 50). Water available near the cabin (could be seasonal), and grazing in the meadow surrounding the cabin. May be difficult to pull a rig into. Option: unload horses first and walk or ride the two miles into the camping area.

Plasses Resort (Fee Area)

Hwy. 88. A very nice resort with specific horse camping sites; call to make reservations early in the season, as they typically fill up. Access to the Mokelumne Wilderness trails and closer jeep roads make for some great day rides. Piped water available.

Wolf Creek Area (Free)

Hwy. 4. Access from Highway 4, Ebbetts Pass, via Markleville. Turn east onto Wolf Creek Road. Follow about 5 miles into Wolf Creek Meadow and campground. Water available in Wolf Creek. Grazing available throughout the meadow area -- but cattle graze here, too. Access to the Carson/Iceberg Wilderness. Many great trails for long day rides, or overnight packing trips. A section of road is steep and may require 4-wheel drive to haul a rig in.

Loon Lake Equestrian (Fee Area)

Hwy. 50/West. Loon Lake Equestrian (both single and Group facilities). Elev. 6500, access to Desolation Wilderness (get your use permit). Located on Loon Lake approx. 29 miles north of Hwy. 50 via the Ice House and Loon Lake roads. Reservations: 5/24 - 9/30, 9 units, 7$ fee, piped water, vault toilets. Group $35 fee, 25 people. Crystal Basin Pacific Ranger Station information: 916-644-6408.

Created by: Deanne Del Vecchio, of Tahoe Design
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Site Originally Created October 24, 1996. 

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