Horse Meadow

Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 38.85690°N / 119.9002°W
Route Type: Off-trail and non-maintained trail hike interwoven
Time Required: Half a day
Difficulty: Class 1 Walk-up, Moderate difficulty with some 30% incline of sandy slopes.


Go east 0.9 mile from Luther Pass to the paved road on left. Follow this road which becomes a 2WD road. Low clearance vehicles not recommended. Follow this road which stays close to Horse Creek where it meets about one mile in the canyon area. Continue driving east for 5 miles until the road ends. At this point, elevation 8,500 feet, is the beginning of a basically cross-country ascent of the southern slope of Freel Peak.

Route Description

This route is the shortest, most direct, and has the least elevation gain (2,400 vertical feet).
From the starting point at Horse Meadow, hike north crossing Horse Creek. Freel Peak is visible for the landmark to guide your direction. The ascent begins through brush and open areas. Pick the easiest way keeping the peak in sight. There is a non-maintained trail that you will meet at about at about 9,500 feet. Here the vegetation is sparse and the slope gets increasingly sandy. Continue in the direction of the peak which is in sight, either by this trail or heading in the most suitable direction up the sandy slope. The trail or easiest way is a few hundred yards to the east of the summit. You will get to the summit ridge at an elevation of 10,400 feet. Here, you will meet another trail that is well-travelled. Follow the trail to the peak at 10,880 feet. A metal box is the summit register. Follow the same route down and enjoy the cushioning effect of the soft sand for half of your descent on the slope.

Essential Gear

The best time to hike relatively free of snow is June through October, assuming no snow has fallen in the early fall. Scree gators are recommended to keep out the sand, and hiking poles are always a benefit. There is no water after Horse Creek, so bring at least two liters. For safety sake, filter all water sources. If you hike while there is still snow in late spring, crampons are advisable. Due to the steepness of the slope, I do not advice a winter ascent since avalanche danger is a serious concern. Use your best judgement.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.