Backpack - Horseshoe Basin

Horseshoe Basin

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Time & Place TBD
This backpack trip is open to all club members over age 18 with an up-to-date waiver on file. This trip is also part of the B3 Backpacking Building Blocks series and qualifies toward B3 course graduation credit. In addition, this backpack will have a practical instructional/learning focus and offer experience in proper gear use and camp set-up techniques.

All Mountaineer activities, including backpack trips, are restricted to members over the age of 18 unless the trip is explicitly listed as a youth activity and led by a Qualified Youth Leader. This backpack trip is for adults age 18+.

This trip will be an exploration of the beautiful and remote Horseshoe Basin area, deep in the Pasayten Wilderness and right next to the Canadian border. On one optional side-trip, we’ll be able to set our feet (just barely) in Canada!

While we will backpack along established trails (expect some rough tread, blowdowns, and steep sections), some optional side-trips will be off-trail hikes across open country to scenic viewpoints. We’ll hike a total of 22 miles on this round-trip backpack, gaining 3,000 feet of elevation, and we will log up to 8 additional miles and up to 2,000 feet of elevation on optional sidetrips.

On Day 1, we will drive to our trailhead (approx. 6 hours drive time from the Seattle area), then hike 6 miles up the Windy Creek valley and along the flank of Windy Peak, making an optional sidetrip along the short trail to its summit if time allows (500 feet additional elevation gain). We then will continue to our campsite at Windy Lake (gaining a total of 2,200 feet elevation for the day, excluding the summit sidetrip).

On Day 2, we will hike 5 miles, first crossing Sunny and Horseshoe Passes and then traversing through Horseshoe Basin to Loudon Lake, where we will set up camp. We then will take an optional afternoon hike up Armstrong Mountain for spectacular views and to set our feet on its Canadian summit (about 3 miles round trip; 1,100 feet elevation gain).

On the morning of Day 3, we will continue our explorations of Horseshoe Basin, then will break camp and hike 5 miles back to Windy Lake to camp for the night.

On Day 4, we will hike from Windy Lake back across the flank of Windy Peak (1,000 feet elevation gain), and then back down to our trailhead.

We will travel at a slow-to-moderate pace comfortable for all participants, taking occasional rest breaks as needed. Because large wildlife is common in this area, I recommend that you use a bear canister. Plan to filter or treat your water, and bring insect repellent in case of late-season mosquitoes.

I will facilitate carpools and send out driving directions a few days before the trip. Drivers can purchase the needed parking pass online:

I will contact all participants in advance of the trip with gear requirements and planning assistance and potential for gear sharing.

This trip could be cancelled or moved if weather or trail conditions are unsafe on the trip dates.

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials
Trip Reports