Taboose Pass Trailhead
Revised 26 Nov 2017 - please send updates to the webmaster
Leave Hwy 395 about 14 miles north of Independence or 12 miles south of Big Pine, on Aberdeen Station Road (waypoint 395TAB). There are yellow intersection signs as you approach, but no road sign at the turnoff. [Kathy Rich reported in 2013 that the turnoff had a brown "Taboose Creek Campground" sign, but that sign is not visible in Google Maps as of 2017 and may be at a different junction with Hwy 395 rather than at this waypoint.]
This road changes in character more frequently than most, so ask the rangers for conditions before your trip and/or plan to walk a bit extra if you don't have a high-clearance vehicle. Only a short stretch is paved, the rest may be good dirt or more like a riverbed. In 2017 cars were spinning out at a slightly steeper than average spot with larger looser rocks (waypoint TABRDX) just below the corral. 2WD vehicles could still get to the trailhead, but they had to take a run at the rocks and bounce over them. For historical reference: In 2009 the road looked freshly graded and any car could make good speed to the trailhead (waypoint TABCRK), but in 1999 the road was rocky and passenger cars were barely making it to the trailhead.
Drive due west, crossing Old Hwy 395 and then Tinemaha Road (at waypoint TABTIN). At Tinemaha there is a poorly marked bit of a northern jog (waypoints TABRD1 and TABRD2) which is not a junction or turn, just the most well travelled of several dirt tracks. Then suddenly you're on Taboose Creek Road! There may or may not be a brown sign in this area saying "Gooddale Crk/Taboose TR", but if it exists it may not be clear which dirt track that sign is pointing to. It's easy to get off onto the wrong dirt track here, so turn back if it gets rough. The road steepens briefly near waypoint TABRDX, then goes past a small corral (overflow parking) to the official trailhead sign and parking lot (waypoint TABCRK).
If you park below the trailhead (as I did), make sure you don't park on or block the sun from any vegetation even if where you park looks used (so you don't get asked to move by a ranger, as I did).
There are no trailhead facilities and not much traffic, but there is a small stream to wash up in on your way out. It's a low-altitude trailhead (5400' elevation) and there's not much shade, so it's often hot. Early starts are advisable. There's plenty of water along the trail, but it's often hundreds of feet down a steep slope. One stream crossing can be dangerous and difficult, especially in the spring. Good campsites are just below and just above the waterfall (about two thirds of the way to the pass).
FOOTNOTE: USGS maps show two trails on the west (far side) of Taboose Pass. The northern trail connections to the pass trail and the JMT have been obscured, but there are no signs indicating the old trail is closed and its the one I usually use unless I'm headed south on the JMT. The new trail (which heads toward Bench Lake before turning down to the JMT) is much longer if you're headed toward Cartidge Pass or Mather Pass, and is very inefficient with up-and-down wandering that's frustrating on the way in and the way out. This old trail, and the old trail over Cartridge Pass, seems to be getting more traffic (and therefore being easier to find and follow) as of 2017.