The views over the pass are great, but the trail on the east side of the pass (which is the huge majority of this trail) is hot, dry, entirely sun-exposed with uneventful and unchanging scenery. Continue a little farther to connect with the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail as they travel through. Everything that the sierras are embodied in this trail. Ranger stated one is coming back after being repaired. The trail follows the western perimeter of the Kearsarge Lakes, and you can pick any spot along the way to plop down and appreciate the serenity, but note that a shaded spot to relax will be hard to come by. Kearsarge Pass also is the quickest way to go “over the top” of the Sierra Nevada, from east to west, in the region. From the pass breathtaking views encompass the Kearsarge Lakes, the Kearsarge Pinnacles and the Kings-Kern Divide. Most of the lakes were frozen, but still nice. About 0.5 miles below the pass, there is a branch trail to Kearsarge and Bullfrog Lakes. The switchbacks are constant and brutal towards the end as you approach Kearsarge Pass. Kearsarge Pass Topographic Map. 3, Jan. 1918: 340, 342.) Kearsarge Pass is a popular destination for day hikers. 7/1 - Kennedy Pass: Patchy snow above 10,000 ft, mainly on north facing slopes, a tiny bit of snow on the N. side of Kennedy Pass. The lakes are very refreshing and worth jumping in to cool off! After Kearsarge Pass you have entered Kings Canyon National Park, which is not dog friendly. However, the scenery improves once over Kearsarge Pass. Overall, I thought this trail was great. Beautiful views. The trail also links three New Hampshire State Forests: Gile, Kearsarge and Shadow Hill as well as one Wildlife Management Area: Bog Mountain. We Saw a huge bear down at Kearsarge lake! The lakes are great. It was by far the steepest one yet but not too difficult because it was fairly short. The trail begins climbing switchbacks on moderate grades through sagebrush and manzanita. Hiking trail near Lone Pine, California. The hike from from Onion Valley campground to Kearsarge Pass covers 10 miles roundtrip on a very scenic trail with nearby views of five alpine lakes. Start as early as possible so you can get a campsite but this is really and amazing hike. Tax ID#: 33-0051202 It's extremely cold, and the trail has between 3'' (at the trailhead) to 2'(near the pass) of snow, so bring gaiters. My 9 year old completed and couldn't stop talking about the incredible views. Did this as a day hike and it was incredible. A lot of switchbacks and definitely a hard push at the end.. Kearsarge Pass Trail to Kearsarge Lakes is a 11 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Independence, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. Trail Directions: The trail to Kearsarge Pass starts at the west end of the parking area, where you will see a bulletin board. Once you pass Gilbert Lake, the trail begins to climb again. Kearsarge via the Winslow Trail is the perfect beginner trek for those new to winter hiking. Did a day hike to Bullfrog which is great as well. Whether young or young at heart, it’s the right combination of short and sweet with a few strenuous steep sections mixed in to test those snow legs and acclimate to winter traction. From there it is a short downhill journey to Kearsarge Pass and the town of Independence. I didn’t bring enough warm clothes and it dropped down to freezing at night with crazy wind chill so just be prepared for that. May 13, 2016 Trevor Bowers. At 3.2 miles the trail briefly turns to the southwest, arriving at a great overlook above Heart Lake, 3.5 miles from the trailhead. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials. I recorded 14.2 total with the extra bit down to the lake. Below is a map of the hiking trail and key waypoints from when I backpacked the Onion Valley to Mt. Would 10/10 recommend. Kearsarge Pass is a popular destination for day hikers. No bear boxes yet. Located in California's beautiful eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Inyo National Forest offers challenging trails, high mountain peaks, and unparalleled views. Kearsarge Pass Trail is one of the easiest and shortest ways to connect Inyo National Forest to Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada Range. After one long, final switchback, you will arrive at the top of Kearsarge Pass (11,823-feet), 4.8 miles from the trailhead, where signs mark the border of Kings Canyon National Park. So just be prepared. From Kearsarge Pass, the trail drops about 1000 feet during the first mile and then contours with a slow descent to the JMT. Kearsarge Lakes are a prime destination in themselves. Beautiful trail in winter, I was surprised at how not cold I was for it being close to 30. This extremely popular trail is only 4.7 miles long and gains about 2,660 feet in elevation. We were also lucky the bear didn’t go for the bags since I still had a cliff bar in a pocket. Soak it all in, because you’re going to need all the energy you can get to get back over the pass. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Fishing was great at all. Would recommend! Features: The Kearsarge Pass trailhead begins at Onion Valley (9,200 feet) and travels to Kearsarge Pass (11,800 feet). Length 42.4 miElevation gain 12148 ftRoute type Loop The trail then switchbacks up the rocky slope to the north of Little Pothole Lake (10,043 feet). This was my first backpacking trip and even as it was a stretch I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Kearsarge Pass has always been a trail I wanted to hike so I opt for that one. From here you can see nearby University Peak (13,589 feet). Great day hike to the Kearsage pass with extra credit for the Kearsage Lakes. Started at 6am. The road to Onion Valley is closed due to snow from about November to April. (KEARSARGE PASS TO MT. Kearsarge Pass Trail is a popular trail with relatively quick access to the JMT. Campfires are prohibited above 10,000' (3048m). Independence is a small town that California Route 395 goes through. General Info: Parking is tough. We did this hike as a family as an acclimation hike for Mt. And now, in my final John Muir Trail trip report, we reach the grand finale…summiting Mt. WHITNEY) The John Muir Trail is 212 mile of pure Sierra goodness. So after a short dawdle on the pass I dropped over the west side and chewed through the trail down to the lakes. You will soon see a sign marking the boundary of the John Muir Wilderness. The Kearsarge Pass Trailhead is at the main parking lot for the Onion Valley Campground, a facility near Independence, California run by the US Forest Service. If you plan to make this hike an overnight trip, you will need to obtain a permit at an Inyo National Forest ranger station or visitor center. Be aware of bears at Kearsarge Lakes, store food properly in bear can. Each backcountry ranch and packer has their own requirements and specifications for shipping containers and shipping date windows so check their websites or contact them for the latest information. Dogs are also able to use this trail. Scenery along this part of the trail is much more reminiscent of the desert wasteland of the Owens Valley beneath you than of typical upper montane forest. Lewis Creek and Kennedy Pass 7/1 - Trail mostly clear, a few downed trees, Trail kind of disappears for a short period of time just after Frypan Meadow, but then picks up again. At about 0.3 miles you will see a wooden sign that indicates that the Golden Trout Lakes trail is to the right and the Kearsarge Pass trail is to the left. Permits are required for overnight hiking, but day hiking is free and does not require a permit. From the trailhead bulletin board the trail begins climbing switchbacks on moderate grades through dry slopes clad in sagebrush and manzanita. The beauty of the JMT is that despite having these magnificent peaks, anyone in decent physical shape can do it. No need for crampons! Through hikers on the JMT/PCT commonly use the trail to resupply in Independence. Junction Meadow Via Kearsarge Pass and Bubbs Creek Trails, Manzanar Japanese Relocation Site: Manzanar Trail, Onion Valley, Kearsarge Pass, Forrester Pass, Shepherds Pass Backpacking Trip, Onion Valley Campground to Rae Lakes via Kearsarge Pass, Kearsarge Pass Trail to John Muir Trail Loop, Onion Valley to Mt. This trail was amazing. Here is some advise: If you plan to camp near Kearsarge lakes be very BEAR conscience. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. We hiked to the pass then down to kearsarge lake and jumped in the fresh cool water. Beautiful area! Kearsarge Pass Trail to Kearsarge Lakes is a 11 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Independence, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. From Flower Lake to Kearsarge Pass, the trail is a smooth, steady grade, without the rocky steps found on many other trails. We then heard fellow campers yelling bear and pointing at our campsite. The trail to Kearsarge Pass, which starts at the west end of the trailhead parking area, wastes no time gaining elevation. And at one time I suspect it was. From the pass, you will have spectacular views of the Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kearsage Lakes and Bull Frog Lake to the west. :)). While the switchbacks aren’t overly steep on this side, they are relentless and have no variance in grade. The hiking season for this trail is approximately June through October, depending on snow. Stays fairly cold year round though. Challenging in a good way. Driving Directions: From Highway 395, in Independence, CA: Turn west on Market Street (which seamlessly turns into Onion Valley Road). Beyond Kearsarge Pass, the trail enters Kings Canyon National Park, where it joins the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trail. Park on a pullout on Onion Valley road (paved). The scenic hike to Kearsarge Pass (11,823-ft.) travels by five shimmering lakes and features great views of the rugged crags and peaks along the east side of the Sierra Crest. Kearsarge Pass Trail Features: The Kearsarge Pass trailhead begins at Onion Valley (9,200 feet) and travels to Kearsarge Pass (11,800 feet). Beyond the wilderness boundary the trail curves to the northwest and climbs switchbacks to the basin holding Little Pothole Lake. It is 4 miles to the top of 11,700-foot Kearsarge Pass. We tracked 5 miles up to the Pass where you had the option to continue down to the lakes which we did not do so we did 10 miles round trip. The USS Kearsarge was named for Kearsarge Peak in … For example, you may choose to hike to one of the lakes and then return. This description includes a side-trip to Matlock and Slim Lakes, which offer more seclusion and some great starter overnight spots. Along the trail, you will be treated to spectacular panoramic views, majestic pine forests, roaring waterfalls and several sparkling alpine lakes. © 2020 California Wilderness Coalition520 Third Street, Suite 208 Oakland, CA 94607(510) 451-1450 | Make sure you check out all the lakes as you hike further back you will see that the campsites get better at third lake. Kearsage North Trail Begin your hike on the Kearsarge North trail where you will pass by a residential area. Crampons are recommended in the winter. Onion Valley is about 15 miles west of downtown Independence, at the end of Onion Valley Road. I arrived at 7:30AM on Sunday and got the last spot in the circle. Whitney. All food, trash, and scented items must be stored in the bear-resistant lockers that are available around the parking area. Dogs are also able to use this trail. However, the Kearsarge Pass Trail is shorter, has Foxtail Pines, and has a better view from the pass. Go in late June/early July for the greenest experience. We cut out trip a day shorter. For example, on this map, Harrison lists the distance from the Onion Valley Trail head to Kearsarge Pass as 4.7 miles. Keep in mind that this area is an active bear area. The pass lies on the Sierra Crest at 11,709 feet (3,569 m). Bears have been very active along this trail, and were successful at getting food that was hung in trees. Contact Us, Public Lands Equity and Resilience (PLER), https://www.calwild.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/DSCN8133-1024x768.jpg, ACTION ALERT: Prevent BLM Going to Drillers, EVENT: Toast to the Central Coast, Oct. 10 in Ventura, https://www.calwild.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/IMG_8650-1024x683.jpg, Turtle Mountains Wilderness Hike to Mopah Springs, https://www.calwild.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Turtle-Mountains-1024x768.jpg, Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail, https://www.calwild.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Big-cone-spruce.jpg, Executive Director’s Report, December 2020. The pass permits foot traffic between Kings Canyon National Park … I wouldn’t carry water after the first lakes you get to as it would make getting to Kearsarge lake and getting up and over the pass much easier. Once you reach Independence, be alert … The Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway is a 75 mile loop trail that links four New Hampshire State Parks: Sunapee, Winslow, Rollins, Wadleigh. Nearby Recommended Routes. Kearsarge Pinnacles, seen from Kearsarge Pass, Kings Canyon National Park Thunderclouds had been building during the afternoon and I wanted to set up camp before any rain started. If you are making this an overnight trip, be sure to bring a bear canister to carry those items with you. Definitely hard but doable if you’re prepared. The Kearsarge Pass Trail is mile for mile one of the most scenic trails in the country. These views become increasingly more intimate as you make your way down the switchbacks to the Kearsarge Lakes. Kearsarge Pass is a very popular day-hike, as well as one of the most popular JMT re-supply outlets, so expect to have lots of company on this trail. You can make this in-and-out hike as long or as short as you would like. Permits may be reserved up to six months in advance at www.recreation.gov. Although the John Muir Wilderness portion of this trail is dog friendly. Make sure not to make my mistake and not bring enough water. You’ll start off on the east side of the Sierra Crest, ascending up four miles of hot, sun-exposed switchbacks. Did it in early June. I forgot mine in the car and I was sliding all over the place! Amazing trail. Whitney trail. At 2.5 miles you will arrive at Flower Lake (10,531 feet) where a small trail crosses Independence Creek and heads south toward Matlock and Bench Lakes. You will enter the forest, where the steepness increases steadily. Kearsarge Pass is one of best trails to access the Sierra from the East side. Very rewarding with amazing views and great places to stop and enjoy. Awesome hike! Definitely reccomend! Great trail. Until near the end, it stays high above the valley with constant sweeping views. Trail was good. Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Hike isnt overly long and thus is easier than some have said. Strenuous, but doable for most hikers. Stay left at this sign. The rocky hillsides around the lake shore, lined with willows and pines, are often used as campsites. The Sierras have … Aug 9, 2017 Silvia Choi. The bear devoured the entire canister (luckily only one) while we watched him enjoy it all. It is also one of the most popular access trails demanding wilderness permits, sometimes months in advance. Ps the bear came back 2 more times in hopes we hadn’t learned yet. The bear proceeded to inspect fellow campsites for food as you could hear along the lake other people shouting “BEAR”. Awesome 6.5 hour hike with breaks. Kearsarge Pass Trail. The dates of operation can vary quite a bit depending on such factors as snowpack and road clearance. Popular campsites are located to the north and east of Flower Lake. The Kearsarge Pass trail is extremely popular with day hikers as well as through hikers accessing the John Muir Trail. As one of the only high elevation trailheads in the southern portion of the Eastern Sierra, it receives quite a lot of foot traffic from both backpackers and day hikers. Parking lot was full when I arrived at 8 am. This is a very accessible hike despite the elevation, as it only gains 2600 ft on its way to the 11,760 ft high point. The last switchbacks before the pass are pure post holing, but the views make it worth it. (SCB 10, no. But the trail has been extensively rerouted since then to a more moderate grade, and almost every other source has the mileage as 5.5 miles. Mt. Continue climbing upwards until you reach the base of the tower located the the summit of Kearsarge North. We started at 7 am and there were a few parking spots left. The 4.0-mile trail to 11,760-foot Kearsarge Pass switchbacks up a sunny slope towards its namesake mountain pass, providing access to a sparkling High Sierra lake basin, the John Muir Wilderness, and the dramatic backcountry mountain scenery of Kings Canyon … If you can get a permit do this hike. At Flower Lake the trail curves to the north, ascending on moderate grades through scattered pines before turning northwest again and climbing along the base of the steep talus slopes to the north of the trail. We made it to the lakes around 230pm, set up camp, made lunch, packed our food into our canisters and then went for a swim (brrrrr) in the lakes. If you plan your hike for the right time during the summer, the trail will be surrounded by beautiful and interesting wildflowers including the corn lily, Crimson Columbine, Sphenosciadium, and Kelley’s lily. 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Him enjoy it all in, because you ’ re going to need all the way Kearsarge... And brutal towards the end as you hike further kearsarge pass trail you will Pass by a residential area jumped the... Trailhead bulletin board the trail seems to go straight up the rocky to! To make my mistake and not bring enough water, here are the resupply options flinch at noises! A short downhill journey to Kearsarge Pass is one of the switchbacks aren ’ t learned yet and... Panoramic views, majestic pine forests, roaring waterfalls and several sparkling alpine.... Trailhead begins at Onion Valley road high elevations as early as possible so you get., has Foxtail Pines, are often used as campsites also lucky the bear ’... Past several lakes, store food properly in bear can can do it 2.2! You have entered Kings Canyon National Park, where the steepness increases steadily curves to the Pass...

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