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. Driving Directions: From Highway 395, in Independence, CA: Turn west on Market Street (which seamlessly turns into Onion Valley Road). Not as smokey as it is nearby in Independence. Definitely reccomend! Kearsarge Pass also is the quickest way to go “over the top” of the Sierra Nevada, from east to west, in the region. Aug 9, 2017 Silvia Choi. The trailhead is at 9,200 feet and the crest is only a 4.8 mile hike to 11,823 feet, a 2500 foot gain. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. All food, trash, and scented items must be stored in the bear-resistant lockers that are available around the parking area. You can make this in-and-out hike as long or as short as you would like. Woods Creek Trail to Kearsarge Pass Trail Aug 28, 2017 Kayla Browne. The USS Kearsarge was named for Kearsarge Peak in … Kearsarge via the Winslow Trail is the perfect beginner trek for those new to winter hiking. Cross Kearsarge Pass and descend down the rocky trail to Bullfrog Lake. 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. And at one time I suspect it was. Kearsarge Lakes are a prime destination in themselves. 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. The trail also links three New Hampshire State Forests: Gile, Kearsarge and Shadow Hill as well as one Wildlife Management Area: Bog Mountain. 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. Currently the road has 0 snow on it, and is very easy to drive. The Kearsarge Pass trail is extremely popular with day hikers as well as through hikers accessing the John Muir Trail. Whitney trail. The one-way mileage to Little Pothole Lake is 1.5, 2.2 miles to Gilbert Lake, and 2.5 miles to Flower Lake. The beauty of the JMT is that despite having these magnificent peaks, anyone in decent physical shape can do it. You’ll start off on the east side of the Sierra Crest, ascending up four miles of hot, sun-exposed switchbacks. The switchbacks are constant and brutal towards the end as you approach Kearsarge Pass. Absolutely beautiful. 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. Once you pass Gilbert Lake, the trail begins to climb again. This is made up for by stops at a series of 5 lakes, of which I think Gilbert Lake is the prettiest. WHITNEY) The John Muir Trail is 212 mile of pure Sierra goodness. Onion Valley is about 15 miles west of downtown Independence, at the end of Onion Valley Road. Kearsarge Pass is a popular destination for day hikers. Kearsarge Pass Trail to John Muir Trail Loop is a 42.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Independence, California that features a great forest setting. Soak it all in, because you’re going to need all the energy you can get to get back over the pass. Kearsarge Pass Trail. These views become increasingly more intimate as you make your way down the switchbacks to the Kearsarge Lakes. :)). It's much harder right now than a typical summer, but fewer people (I saw 11 people total). If you are traveling to the trailhead from a low-elevation area, please also keep in mind that you should acclimate to the high elevation before hiking to the Pass, perhaps by camping at the developed campground (Onion Valley Campground), located about 100 yards from the trailhead, the night before your hike. You hit a few lakes before the last section of switchbacks leading up to the pass. The Kearsarge Pass Trail is mile for mile one of the most scenic trails in the country. Trail was good. Crampons are recommended in the winter. Campfires are prohibited above 10,000' (3048m). We then heard fellow campers yelling bear and pointing at our campsite. You will enter the forest, where the steepness increases steadily. Pacific Crest Trail Association 1331 Garden Highway, Suite 230 Sacramento, CA 95833; 916-285-1846 main 916-285-1865 fax; PCTA is a 501(c)(3). The lakes are great. Very rewarding with amazing views and great places to stop and enjoy. 3, Jan. 1918: 340, 342.) No need for crampons! Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. From the pass, you will have spectacular views of the Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kearsage Lakes and Bull Frog Lake to the west. Most of the lakes were frozen, but still nice. 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. Did a day hike to Bullfrog which is great as well. Great for preparing for Whitney. The trail is rated as difficult and is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and backpacking. Beyond the wilderness boundary the trail curves to the northwest and climbs switchbacks to the basin holding Little Pothole Lake. If you are making this an overnight trip, be sure to bring a bear canister to carry those items with you. If you can get a permit do this hike. The rocky hillsides around the lake shore, lined with willows and pines, are often used as campsites. Until the summit, the trail stays at a moderate pitch the entire route, with a few good view points once you pop out from the trees. 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. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. We did not lock our bear canisters (face palm- the kind with the flat head screws on top). From Flower Lake to Kearsarge Pass, the trail is a smooth, steady grade, without the rocky steps found on many other trails. (KEARSARGE PASS TO MT. We did this hike as a family as an acclimation hike for Mt. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Strenuous, but doable for most hikers. Keep in mind that this area is an active bear area. I arrived at 7:30AM on Sunday and got the last spot in the circle. 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. Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Bears have been very active along this trail, and were successful at getting food that was hung in trees. Make sure you check out all the lakes as you hike further back you will see that the campsites get better at third lake. The last switchbacks before the pass are pure post holing, but the views make it worth it. Ps the bear came back 2 more times in hopes we hadn’t learned yet. Stays fairly cold year round though. Kearsarge Pass is a pass in the Sierra Nevada of California. It's extremely cold, and the trail has between 3'' (at the trailhead) to 2'(near the pass) of snow, so bring gaiters. After Kearsarge Pass you have entered Kings Canyon National Park, which is not dog friendly. Overall, I thought this trail was great. Update on the crampons, definitely needed now! Whitney – the tallest peak in the continental U.S. So just be prepared. Kearsarge Pass Trail Beginning at Onion Valley, the Kearsarge Pass Trail travels through the John Muir Wilderness. There is a two night camping limit at Kearsarge Lakes (east of Bullfrog). The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. The little town which grew up ath the mine was called "Kearsarge City," and the pass came to be called the "Kearsarge Pass," and the mountain just to the north of the pass "Kearsarge Mountain."' 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. The trail to Kearsarge Pass, which starts at the west end of the trailhead parking area, wastes no time gaining elevation. 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. 100% recommend. Everyone knows to bring a bear canister and lock up your food at night and put it far away, however, we were naive about daytime bear activity. Located in California's beautiful eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Inyo National Forest offers challenging trails, high mountain peaks, and unparalleled views. From north to south, here are the resupply options. This extremely popular trail is only 4.7 miles long and gains about 2,660 feet in elevation. Until near the end, it stays high above the valley with constant sweeping views. No bear boxes yet. Continue climbing upwards until you reach the base of the tower located the the summit of Kearsarge North. Everything that the sierras are embodied in this trail. So after a short dawdle on the pass I dropped over the west side and chewed through the trail down to the lakes. 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. Season is from June-early October, but snow may be present in June and starts at high elevations as early as October. © 2020 California Wilderness Coalition520 Third Street, Suite 208 Oakland, CA 94607(510) 451-1450 | Along the trail, you will be treated to spectacular panoramic views, majestic pine forests, roaring waterfalls and several sparkling alpine lakes. Kearsarge Pass has always been a trail I wanted to hike so I opt for that one. Completed the trail 7/26/20. Permits are required for overnight hiking, but day hiking is free and does not require a permit. Please learn from our mistake and lock up everything no matter what! We were also lucky the bear didn’t go for the bags since I still had a cliff bar in a pocket. 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. Be aware of bears at Kearsarge Lakes, store food properly in bear can. Parking lot was full when I arrived at 8 am. The views down into Kings Canyon National Park, with the Kearsarge Lakes and Bullfrog Lake backdropped by the Kearsarge Pinnacles, are beautiful. You will soon see a sign marking the boundary of the John Muir Wilderness. We started at 7 am and there were a few parking spots left. Below is a map of the hiking trail and key waypoints from when I backpacked the Onion Valley to Mt. Beyond Kearsarge Pass, the trail enters Kings Canyon National Park, where it joins the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trail. Continue a little farther to connect with the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail as they travel through. From the lakes, the trail seems to go straight up the mountain. 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. Tax ID#: 33-0051202 May 13, 2016 Trevor Bowers. The lakes are very refreshing and worth jumping in to cool off! Make sure not to make my mistake and not bring enough water. Hiked this trail back in August with my girlfriend and aussie dog Turbo. From there it is a short downhill journey to Kearsarge Pass and the town of Independence. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Length 42.4 miElevation gain 12148 ftRoute type Loop 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. This trail was amazing. For example, you may choose to hike to one of the lakes and then return. My 9 year old completed and couldn't stop talking about the incredible views. 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. Beautiful views. Beyond Kearsarge Pass, the trail enters Kings Canyon National Park, where it joins the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trail. Challenging in a good way. The road to Onion Valley is closed due to snow from about November to April. The trail then climbs a series of switchbacks to the basin below Kearsarge Pass and then ascends on long switchbacks across more talus-covered slopes along the north side of the basin. While the switchbacks aren’t overly steep on this side, they are relentless and have no variance in grade. Between May 1 and November 1, overnight use is limited to 60 people per day. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials. The bear proceeded to inspect fellow campsites for food as you could hear along the lake other people shouting “BEAR”. Great day hike to the Kearsage pass with extra credit for the Kearsage Lakes. (SCB 10, no. Park on a pullout on Onion Valley road (paved). 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. The hiking season for this trail is approximately June through October, depending on snow. Kearsarge Pass is a popular destination for day hikers. At the top of the switchbacks the trail traverses a boulder field and arrives at Gilbert Lake (10,417 feet). However, the scenery improves once over Kearsarge Pass. From the trailhead bulletin board the trail begins climbing switchbacks on moderate grades through dry slopes clad in sagebrush and manzanita. Bears are very active in this area, hikers camping on the east side of the pass are required to carry bear-resistant food canisters TRAIL SUMMARY TRAILHEAD ELEVATION - 9,200 feet HIGHEST ELEVATION - 11,823 feet @ Kearsarge Pass Kearsarge Pass Trail is a popular trail with relatively quick access to the JMT. Amazing trail. 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. General Info: Parking is tough. I forgot mine in the car and I was sliding all over the place! For example, on this map, Harrison lists the distance from the Onion Valley Trail head to Kearsarge Pass as 4.7 miles. Go in late June/early July for the greenest experience. The dates of operation can vary quite a bit depending on such factors as snowpack and road clearance. The bear devoured the entire canister (luckily only one) while we watched him enjoy it all. This makes for an unpleasant slog, as apart from a couple of nice lakes along the way, the scenery is unchanging and unimpressive, making the hot, dry hike feel like more of a chore, especially at the upper elevation rockfields. 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. 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. From here you can see nearby University Peak (13,589 feet). Kearsarge Pass Trail Features: The Kearsarge Pass trailhead begins at Onion Valley (9,200 feet) and travels to Kearsarge Pass (11,800 feet). Beautiful trail in winter, I was surprised at how not cold I was for it being close to 30. The trail climbs through forest and alpine tundra past multiple lakes, Including Little Pothole, Gilbert, and Flower Lakes. 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