PCT Hikers

Pack Trips


Pack trips are a great way to experience all of the wonders that wilderness has to offer. However, it can be physically challenging and will require a certain amount of physical ability to safely enjoy your trip. We strongly recommend riders be in good enough physical shape to mount, dismount, and ride a horse, walk on rough terrain, and other activities involved in wilderness travel. Mountain weather can be inclement, though most of the time it is nice.
All riders must be at least 7 years old to ride.
Below are some physical considerations:
  • Weight – MAXIMUM weight of 260lbs (call for special considerations)
  • Altitude sickness – if you are sensitive to altitude changes, please consider this as a factor when considering a high Sierra Wilderness trip.
  • General Health – if you have health conditions that may present a problem in a wilderness setting please be sure to take all the steps beforehand to mitigate these problems as well as ask your doctor if it is okay for you. (ex heart conditions, asthma, surgeries, etc)
  • Allergies- if you are allergic to items that are found in the wilderness and/or horses please come prepared for this on your trip should an allergic event occur (EpiPen, medication)
  • Food allergies – (for all inclusive trips) we do our best to talk with you before preparing meals to meet your specials requests, however, because this is a wilderness setting and we are generally cooking for a large group this may require some flexibility on your part (providing your own snacks, etc)

  1. Must be physically fit to safely ride a horse in the mountains.
  2. Must follow and understand all instructions given by Kennedy Meadows Staff.
  3. No back packs on horse. Camel backs are allowed.
  4. Never get on or off horse without permission and assistance from Kennedy Meadows Staff.
  5. Properly hold onto reins at all times.
  6. Do not allow horse to eat while on trail.
  7. Keep horse single file and close to horse in front of you. Don’t let large gaps develop between you and horse in front of you.
  8. Never take off or put on clothing while riding. Ask guide for assistance if needed.
  9. Keep your self and saddle centered on horse at all times.
  10. If saddle feels loose, immediately tell guide.
  11. No running horses.
  12. Stay away from pack animals at all times.
  13. Watch riders around you for safety concerns and say something to guide if you see something.
  14. Wear appropriate clothing for riding. Long pants, close toed shoes that fit in stirrup and hats that won’t blow off.
  15. No riding double.
  16. If you don’t understand instructions or safety rules, ask Kennedy Meadows Staff to clarify.

You MUST have a wilderness permit to stay overnight in the outback. The Summit ranger station at the Pinecrest turnoff can issue your free wilderness permit.

Call (209) 965-3434 or Apply Online.

Please be sure to take care of this detail and have your permit in hand before you arrive at Kennedy Meadows. Here's a few extra details that might help -- please be sure to include your packer in the count of people, and if you are unsure of the number of people and or stock (count both horses and pack mules) that you will have on your trip, it's better to estimate on the high side. If you arrive to pick up your permit after hours (at the summit ranger station--can't verify the others), the rangers will have placed your permit in a box on the side of the building. You might consider calling the station before you arrive -- just to confirm that it's ready for you.

Please arrive at Kennedy Meadows by 6:00am unless other arrangements are made to give the packers time to properly load the bags, get you settled on a horse, and allow you to enjoy your destination as soon as possible!

Lodging and campsites are available at Kennedy Meadows, please call ahead of time for availability.

When planning for your trip, please keep in mind that your gear will be loaded on a live animal whose behavior cannot always be predicted. Kennedy Meadows cannot guarantee your equipment and suggests that if you choose to bring expensive or fragile items you safety pack it in a proper protection case. Fishing poles should be packed in hard cases no longer than 5 feet and rifles in single hard cases. We also recommend avoiding bringing glass items such as glass beer bottles, wine bottles, and cups.

The advantage of having pack mules is that you will be able to enjoy the back country with items you wouldn’t normally pack in on your own back. However, it’s important to balance the need for luxury with the 150-pound per mule limit.

Please keep in mind that the pack bags are limited in size. Please plan to bring coolers no larger than 48 quart as that size fits perfectly in the pack sack; clothing and food should be packed in canvas or other soft material no larger than 13” wide x 23” long x 15” deep. Many smaller containers are better than a few large ones, enabling the packers more flexibility in obtaining the correct weight and balance for each mule. Please also remember to avoid bringing glass items like beer bottles or wine bottles. Fishing poles should be packed in hard cases no longer than 5 feet and rifles in single hard cases.

Your packer is your guide to the Emigrant Wilderness. He will handle all of the pack animals, ensure your trip is safe and if you like, provide you with a little history of the area. You packer will participate in your trip as much or as little at you like.

Packers are much more fun to be around if they are fed! Yes, when planning meals for overnight trips, or if you plan to keep your packer with you, please include enough food to feed him/her.

If you are happy with the work that your packer did for you and your group, gratuities are certainly customary and appreciated. (A general rule of thumb for tips is 10% of the bill divided among the packers and cooks that helped on your trip)

Kennedy Meadows strongly recommends leaving your dog at home for the safety of your dog and your group. The back country is pretty rough even on a dog who’s in extremely good condition, and is used to walking many, many miles through rocky terrain. Add to that the danger of horses’ and mules' hooves and you would be better off leaving Rover with friends at home.

Kennedy Meadows accommodates riders of all levels from beginner riders to seasoned equestrians. We provide well-trained horses for your trip but you will be in charge of controlling your own horse while on the trail. Instructions will be provided to you prior to your ride however we recommend for those who have not been on a horse before to take a lesson or come up for a shorter distance ride to test it out before departing on your pack trip.

The weather in the Emigrant Wilderness can change at any moment. A summer day that starts out sunny and warm can end with thundershowers and a significant drop in temperature. You should definitely plan to bring foul weather gear and warm clothing.

Yes! Kennedy Meadows offers all-inclusive trips that include a packer, stock, a cook, and all meals. Click "Types of Trips" to view these options.

Per wilderness regulations a 15 person maximum group size is enforced. This includes Kennedy Meadows staff.

Please follow the link for complete wilderness regulations.

Wilderness Regulations

Kennedy Meadows supports and encourages following the principles of Leave No Trace (outlined in the link below)

Leave No Trace

You may safely and legally carry and possess fire arms in the wilderness.

You may ONLY discharge a firearm for the legal taking of game.


You will be required to put a deposit up prior to your trip and pay for the balance at the end of your trip. We accept cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, Discover card.

U.S. Forest ServiceYosemite National Park
Kennedy Meadows operates under permit from the U.S. Forest Service and Yosemite National Park