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Horseshoe Basin

North Cascades > Pasayten
48.9086, -119.9041 Map & Directions
Length
12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
1550 feet
Highest Point
7200 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate/Hard
Photo by trip reporter Wild Side. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Established campsites
  • Ridges/passes
  • Dogs allowed on leash

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

At the easterly edge of the Pasayten Wilderness, almost touching the Canadian border, lies a truly unique and beautifully remote place. Horseshoe Basin is one of the few places in the Lower 48 to contain alpine tundra and is home to bears, deer and pronghorn sheep, if you know where to look. Continue reading

Rating
3.88 out of 5

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Hiking Horseshoe Basin

The drive to the trailhead may be long, but the destination is absolutely worth it.

At the easterly edge of the Pasayten Wilderness, almost touching the Canadian border, lies Horseshoe Basin; a truly unique and beautifully remote place.

Horseshoe Basin is one of the few places in the Lower 48 to contain alpine tundra and is home to bears, deer and bighorn sheep, if you know where to look. Allow plenty of time to explore Horseshoe Basin by camping at the trailhead, where primitive camping without a water source is available. Bring plenty of water with you.

From the trailhead, enter a forest still bearing scars from the 2006 Tripod Fire. Note how the trees are starting to silver and keep your eyes out wildlife, including porcupines and woodpeckers. Water is scarce along this section of trail and in the heat of summer this area can be a scorcher due to the lack of tree cover.

At 1.5 miles cross a tributary of Clutch Creek, the only consistent water source until Horseshoe Basin. This is your last chance to refill water bottles, so take the time to do so here. Continue on until the trail finally breaks out of the burned area about three miles from the trailhead. Here, emerald green hillsides take over the vista in front of you, and scenic Sunny Pass beckons.

Hike steadily uphill and reach the inviting pass at 4.8 miles. Sunny Pass is the perfect place for a picnic lunch. As you enjoy a snack, enjoy your first sight of Horseshoe Basin, an area that begs further exploration. On your way to the basin, you’ll see increasing amounts of subalpine fir trees, trickling creeks and bright wildflowers.

At six miles you arrive at your destination; sublime Horseshoe Basin. Take in the expansiveness of the area. Gawking is allowed, even encouraged. If you’re still feeling sprightly, head uphill as far as you’d like for increasingly expansive vistas – go far enough and you can touch Canada!

WTA Pro Tip: Before you head into the vast wilderness, fill up at Whistler's Family Restaurant in Tonasket.

WTA worked here in 2019, 2018, 2015 and 2014!

Hike Description Written by
Andrea Imler, WTA Staff

Horseshoe Basin

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.9086, -119.9041 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Tonasket, take a left onto the Loomis Highway and drive 16 miles to Loomis. Here, make a right onto County Road 9425, and after 2 miles make a left onto Forest Road 39. This is signed as Toats Coulee Road at first. Stay on FR 39 for about 14 miles, looking for a spur road signed for the Irongate Trailhead. Be warned, this road is quite rough — high clearance vehicles are necessary to negotiate it. Continue on the spur road for nearly six miles until you arrive at the trailhead.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

North Cascades > Pasayten

Boundary Trail (#533)

Colville National Forest, Tonasket Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Backpacking Washington (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Horseshoe Basin No. 21

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Horseshoe Basin

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