Backpack - Horseshoe Basin (Pasayten)


Backpack - Horseshoe Basin (Pasayten)

[Preference to B3 Students Until 8/3] A favorite destination for many backpackers, this is a fantastic hike in the Pasayten Wilderness with an opportunity to visit the Canada-US border!

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Very Strenuous
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 19.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,400 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 8,150 ft

The hike will begin at the Iron Gate Trailhead.  We will meet at the Trailhead at 8am, hitting the trail by 8:30a to get most of the hiking in before the hottest part of the day.  

With a 6-hour drive to get to the trailhead, you will want to plan to camp the night before at one of the nearby campgrounds:

South Fork Junction Campground
– National Forest, First Come First Served, Small Fee

North Fork Ninemile Campground
– State Park, First Come First Served, Covered w/ Discover Pass

The current plan is to hike in via the Albert Camp Trail, where we will take in the views and eat lunch before heading down to Sunny Pass and on into Horseshoe Basin.

Day 2 will be exploring the basin with an optional hike up Armstrong where we'll get to see a couple of border monuments and "the swath", a 20' clearcut line along the border.

Day 3 will be hiking out via the Boundary Trail.

 We will hike as  a group, supporting one another as a group. I encourage an environment of belonging and we will adjust to ensure everyone is comfortable and has a positive experience.  That said, to be successful on this hike, you should be comfortable with a sustained 2mph+ pace, including moderate elevation gain and distance (2700', 10 miles).  

My more detailed notes from a previous hike I did here, similar route:


Horseshoe Basin

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Special Equipment Notes: 

Recent reports indicate problems with mosquitoes and biting flies. Treat clothing and gear with Permethrin. Consider using repellent. Consider bringing a headnet and wearing other protective clothing.  

A lot of the hike is exposed, with minimal tree cover, and it will likely be hot and sunny. Bring sunscreen, wear sun shirts, hats, etc.

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports