Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
3,829.00 ft (1,167.08 m)
Trail type
13.00 mi (20.92 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Horse Creek Trail is a strenuous hike in Hoover Wilderness that is often done as part of a two-day backpacking trip, but with preparation and perseverance it can be done in one day. Near the northeastern section of Yosemite, it features stunning alpine views while having a relatively less competitive permit process than nearby national parks.

The trail begins at the campground at Mono Village on the western side of Upper Twin Lake, and rapidly ascends a series of forested switchbacks. Gorgeous views of Upper Twin Lake quickly appear, and the path passes by a series of waterfalls. There is no shortage of water during the first several miles of the hike, since the trail closely follows Horse Creek. After about two miles, the switchbacks end and the trail traverses lush meadows. During the summer, this area blooms with wildflowers and is a great spot to take a rest. Soon, the trees are replaced by shrubland, and as the elevation continues to increase the trail becomes progressively rockier. Eventually the trail becomes difficult to follow, however the stream and eventually the canyon serve as excellent waypoints. During the summer months, it is advisable to stick close to the stream on the west side, as this trail requires less bouldering. There is also a trail on the east side, but it requires more bouldering and is harder to follow. The last mile or so become tricky, as the trail fades away into scree and boulder fields. Continue climbing the boulder field until you reach the saddle, then descend slightly to reach Horse Creek Pass.

Hikers may choose to continue past Horse Creek Pass to Matterhorn Peak, which is a popular destination for technical climbing and, in the winter, skiing. Reaching the summit requires class 2-3 scrambling. There are two routes to the peak: one through Horse Creek Pass and the other up a scree slope to the northwest of the saddle. Crampons are recommended for Horse Creek Pass in the summer, and necessary for the Horse Creek Trail at all other times of the year.

Weather conditions are known to change rapidly in the high country, and afternoon thunderstorms are common.


Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Overnight Use Permit

Open Year-round





Sweeping views. Solitude. Wildflowers.


Trail hard to follow. Scree.

Trailhead Elevation

7,110.00 ft (2,167.13 m)

Highest point

10,762.00 ft (3,280.26 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site



Nearby Adventures

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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