Trail: Trail Pass Trail to Ramshaw Meadow Trail
Mileage: 8.1 one way
Min Elevation: 8530ft
Max Elevation: 8980ft
Directions to trailhead: From Lone Pine, CA turn west toward the Sierra Mountains on Whitney Portal Rd. Turn left onto Horseshoe Meadow Rd, and follow the road to the end.
Parking: Signs will guide you to parking and trailhead.
Permit: A backpackers permit is required for overnight stays. This can be obtained from the Lone Pine Visitor's Center. Day hikers do not require a permit.
Map: We used the Whitney Portal, it cuts off a corner of the loop. Golden Trout Wilderness map is also available.
We planned a 3 day backpack July 20-22. Storms moved through the area daily requiring afternoon rain gear. The second night we were rewarded with an amazing sunset after an early evening downpour.
The Ramshaw Meadow is gorgeous! Coming from this direction at a higher elevation provides a great view of the meadow. Today's hike is primarily flat and beautiful!
We hike a loop that my GPS says is 32.2 miles. Counting the miles listed on the map says 27 miles. The first day we hike to Tunnel Meadow and Trail Pass Trail and camp for the night. The second day we hike the Ramshaw Meadow Trail. The 3rd day we hiked the Templeton-Mulkey Meadow Trail back out to Trail Pass Trail.
We hiked Trail Pass Trail just past the Tunnel cutoff Junction and setup camp last night. The next morning we had breakfast looking out over the meadow and watching the blue birds as they sang in the morning sun.
Drinking water is a short walk into the meadow.
Lots of flowers surrounded the South Fork of the Kern River. These next 3 pictures are the same type of flower, in different stages of bloom....
Three more mule trains pass by us before we pack up camp and head onto the Trail Pass Trail. Just under 1 mile down the trail we run across the sign for Little Whitney Meadow and Big Whitney Meadow. Multiple developed campsites are located near this crossroad area.
At 1 mile from camp we run across an old water tower which fed the water company occupants. There are old horse tie up posts and corrals that the water company used here a long time ago.
This building has a sign stating this is a State Installation Essential to California's water development program. Obviously not any longer but it is a look into an interesting past.
As we turned to go back to the trail we spotted the water measuring tower which was used to measure rainfall in the area.
Their is still a fully functioning Weather Tower with video surveillance at the site.
Right after all this fun stuff is the turn off for Ramshaw Meadow. The mule trains take the route to Volcano Meadow which is the popular destination for the horsemen.
Kern Peak Trail branches off just 50 yards down the trail which would take you to the summit. We take the left trail toward Ramshaw Meadow.
The trail is quiet as we hike and there is no evidence of people or livestock being on the trail for days. As we head down the hill a stream appears on the left breaking bleak landscape with vibrant greenery and flowers.
In about 2 miles the landscape changes again to become much more rocky. Here we have volcanic rock showing just in this small area.
As the trail ascends and takes a turn we are given a glimpse of Ramshaw Meadow toward the left at 2.2 miles.
A few more yards down the trail and we see this great view of the Ramshaw Meadow - Wow!
We emerge on the valley floor at 2.9 miles with Kern Peak to the right.
The trail stays to the right of the meadow and follows the tree line. You can see signs marking the trail for snow season
Here are varying views of Ramshaw Meadows which we found intriguing and beautiful, such an amazing open space!
Most of the trails adjacent to the meadows, travel along them, not through them, preserving the animals and plants that live there.
At 5.68 miles the trail leaves the meadow and travels into the tree line.
After a short 100 foot ascent the trail reaches the top of the hill and we find a Templeton Meadows sign, though we will not be hiking to Templeton.
It is time for a snack as our bellies are hankering for something sweet and some coffee, so we sit down by the Lewis Stringer stream and enjoy a little rest break. After our snack we found a few developed campsites just a short distance upstream where they even had a few fire rings for campfires.
Beautiful flowers littered the stream along the trail.
Just down the trail are more developed camping spots.
After about 7 miles we reach a fork in the trail which goes to Monarch Meadows and Red Rock Meadows. We are going toward Monarch Meadows.
We reach the Mulkey Meadows turn off at 7.42 miles. Here we backtrack across to the meadow's opposite side.
We cross the South Fork Kern River again at 7.94 miles. We explored the area a bit and found some large fresh water clams in the stream.
We setup up camp on the other side of these rocks surrounded by the meadow.
There were lots of thunder storms all around us with rain in the distance but it takes a couple hours for them to reach our camp. We ate dinner in the tent as rain poured around us at about 7pm.
About 8pm the rain stopped and we emerged from our tent to the most amazing sunset - 360 degrees of spectacular colors and rainbows.... and the moon to boot!
We built a fire and stayed up for another couple hours enjoying the view. The stars were brilliant and literally twinkling like the song. When we settled back into the tent there were no sounds: no rain, no wind, no crickets, no frogs, no coyotes, no stream. just sweet silence.
After the moon set in the early morning hours, I awoke to the sound of a lone coyote. One lone howl shot through the meadow and then silence returned.
In the morning Neil and I are treated to a completely different setting as we get out of the tent. A cool fog has covered the area like a blanket, as we watch it grow and then shrink the sun rises. A great beginning of day 3 of our adventure which we will post soon.