From the pass, you will have spectacular views of the Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kearsage Lakes and Bull Frog Lake to the west. Kearsarge via the Winslow Trail is the perfect beginner trek for those new to winter hiking. The bear proceeded to inspect fellow campsites for food as you could hear along the lake other people shouting “BEAR”. We started at 7 am and there were a few parking spots left. Cross Kearsarge Pass and descend down the rocky trail to Bullfrog Lake. Season is from June-early October, but snow may be present in June and starts at high elevations as early as October. For example, you may choose to hike to one of the lakes and then return. Kearsarge Pass Trail Features: The Kearsarge Pass trailhead begins at Onion Valley (9,200 feet) and travels to Kearsarge Pass (11,800 feet). So after a short dawdle on the pass I dropped over the west side and chewed through the trail down to the lakes. The hiking season for this trail is approximately June through October, depending on snow. 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. It's much harder right now than a typical summer, but fewer people (I saw 11 people total). Awesome 6.5 hour hike with breaks. 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 General Info: Parking is tough. 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. Definitely reccomend! Until near the end, it stays high above the valley with constant sweeping views. You will soon see a sign marking the boundary of the John Muir Wilderness. WHITNEY) The John Muir Trail is 212 mile of pure Sierra goodness. Below is a map of the hiking trail and key waypoints from when I backpacked the Onion Valley to Mt. Nearby Recommended Routes. 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. Kearsarge Pass has always been a trail I wanted to hike so I opt for that one. 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). Not for beginners and bring lots of water and sunblock you are exposed to the sun a lot of the time. From the trailhead bulletin board the trail begins climbing switchbacks on moderate grades through dry slopes clad in sagebrush and manzanita. 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. However, the scenery improves once over Kearsarge Pass. However, the Kearsarge Pass Trail is shorter, has Foxtail Pines, and has a better view from the pass. 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. The rocky hillsides around the lake shore, lined with willows and pines, are often used as campsites. Once you pass Gilbert Lake, the trail begins to climb again. Make sure not to make my mistake and not bring enough water. And now, in my final John Muir Trail trip report, we reach the grand finale…summiting Mt. All food, trash, and scented items must be stored in the bear-resistant lockers that are available around the parking area. 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. Not as smokey as it is nearby in Independence. Hiked this trail back in August with my girlfriend and aussie dog Turbo. Explore Inyo National Forest - Wilderness Permits in Inyo National Forest, California with Recreation.gov. Awesome hike! And at one time I suspect it was. Although the John Muir Wilderness portion of this trail is dog friendly. 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. This was my first backpacking trip and even as it was a stretch I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Whitney – the tallest peak in the continental U.S. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Parking lot was full when I arrived at 8 am. This trail was amazing. Great trail. The beauty of the JMT is that despite having these magnificent peaks, anyone in decent physical shape can do it. The bear devoured the entire canister (luckily only one) while we watched him enjoy it all. May 13, 2016 Trevor Bowers. At the top of the switchbacks the trail traverses a boulder field and arrives at Gilbert Lake (10,417 feet). 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. The last switchbacks before the pass are pure post holing, but the views make it worth it. Once you reach Independence, be alert … Tax ID#: 33-0051202 The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials. Bears have been very active along this trail, and were successful at getting food that was hung in trees. 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. From the lakes, the trail seems to go straight up the mountain. My 9 year old completed and couldn't stop talking about the incredible views. The Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway. Everything that the sierras are embodied in this trail. Here is some advise: If you plan to camp near Kearsarge lakes be very BEAR conscience. If you choose to hike all the way to Kearsarge Pass, the mileage is 4.8 miles one way. 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. Trail was good. Aug 9, 2017 Silvia Choi. This description includes a side-trip to Matlock and Slim Lakes, which offer more seclusion and some great starter overnight spots. The dates of operation can vary quite a bit depending on such factors as snowpack and road clearance. We did not lock our bear canisters (face palm- the kind with the flat head screws on top). (SCB 10, no. 100% recommend. 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. The trail then switchbacks up the rocky slope to the north of Little Pothole Lake (10,043 feet). Onion Valley is about 15 miles west of downtown Independence, at the end of Onion Valley Road. 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. 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. Woods Creek Trail to Kearsarge Pass Trail Aug 28, 2017 Kayla Browne. Popular campsites are located to the north and east of Flower Lake. Driving Directions: From Highway 395, in Independence, CA: Turn west on Market Street (which seamlessly turns into Onion Valley Road). The trail is rated as difficult and is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and backpacking. Kearsarge Pass Topographic Map. Did it in early June. Located in California's beautiful eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Inyo National Forest offers challenging trails, high mountain peaks, and unparalleled views. 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. Did a day hike to Bullfrog which is great as well. The pass permits foot traffic between Kings Canyon National Park … Trail Directions: The trail to Kearsarge Pass starts at the west end of the parking area, where you will see a bulletin board. Kearsarge Pass Trail is a popular trail with relatively quick access to the JMT. We cut out trip a day shorter. Features: The Kearsarge Pass trailhead begins at Onion Valley (9,200 feet) and travels to Kearsarge Pass (11,800 feet). 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 … Currently the road has 0 snow on it, and is very easy to drive. Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. A lot of switchbacks and definitely a hard push at the end.. There is a two night camping limit at Kearsarge Lakes (east of Bullfrog). Campfires are prohibited above 10,000' (3048m). The Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway is a 75 mile loop trail that links four New Hampshire State Parks: Sunapee, Winslow, Rollins, Wadleigh. While the switchbacks aren’t overly steep on this side, they are relentless and have no variance in grade. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. 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. :)). Fishing was great at all. From the pass breathtaking views encompass the Kearsarge Lakes, the Kearsarge Pinnacles and the Kings-Kern Divide. Stays fairly cold year round though. It is also one of the most popular access trails demanding wilderness permits, sometimes months in advance. Permits may be reserved up to six months in advance at www.recreation.gov. About 0.5 miles below the pass, there is a branch trail to Kearsarge and Bullfrog Lakes. 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. Bullfrog Lake, east of the trail between Vidette Meadow and Glen Pass, is closed to all camping, grazing and stock travel. 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. These views become increasingly more intimate as you make your way down the switchbacks to the Kearsarge Lakes. Although it is only 4 miles to the top of the pass one way, there are plenty of alpine lakes along the trail so I thought it would be a good trail to spend some time exploring. 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."' You can make this in-and-out hike as long or as short as you would like. Strenuous, but doable for most hikers. 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. The John Muir Trail (so you get to hike part of the JMT without having to go through the JMT Permit process) The Mount Whitney Trail. Beautiful trail in winter, I was surprised at how not cold I was for it being close to 30. This is made up for by stops at a series of 5 lakes, of which I think Gilbert Lake is the prettiest. From there it is a short downhill journey to Kearsarge Pass and the town of Independence. 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. 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 trail climbs through forest and alpine tundra past multiple lakes, Including Little Pothole, Gilbert, and Flower Lakes. Along the trail, you will be treated to spectacular panoramic views, majestic pine forests, roaring waterfalls and several sparkling alpine lakes. Great day hike to the Kearsage pass with extra credit for the Kearsage Lakes. Length 42.4 miElevation gain 12148 ftRoute type Loop Very rewarding with amazing views and great places to stop and enjoy. We did this hike as a family as an acclimation hike for Mt. The Kearsarge Pass Trail is mile for mile one of the most scenic trails in the country. Whitney via Kearsarge Pass and John Muir Trails, Mount Rixford from Onion Valley Campground. 3, Jan. 1918: 340, 342.) Kearsarge Pass is one of best trails to access the Sierra from the East side. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. We then heard fellow campers yelling bear and pointing at our campsite. Hiking trail near Lone Pine, California. 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. The one-way mileage to Little Pothole Lake is 1.5, 2.2 miles to Gilbert Lake, and 2.5 miles to Flower Lake. We Saw a huge bear down at Kearsarge lake! 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. Would recommend! If you are making this an overnight trip, be sure to bring a bear canister to carry those items with you. 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. This extremely popular trail is only 4.7 miles long and gains about 2,660 feet in elevation. The trail begins climbing switchbacks on moderate grades through sagebrush and manzanita. Continue climbing upwards until you reach the base of the tower located the the summit of Kearsarge North. 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. Beyond the wilderness boundary the trail curves to the northwest and climbs switchbacks to the basin holding Little Pothole Lake. The Kearsarge Pass Trail takes you past a number of scenic lakes and in 7 miles over the pass to the John Muir Trail, which meanders for 23 miles through the John Muir Wilderness . Soak it all in, because you’re going to need all the energy you can get to get back over the pass. This is a very beautiful yet difficult trail. If you can get a permit do this hike. Make sure you check out all the lakes as you hike further back you will see that the campsites get better at third lake. No need for crampons! Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. 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 lies on the Sierra Crest at 11,709 feet (3,569 m). 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. 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. 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 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 to Kearsarge Pass, which starts at the west end of the trailhead parking area, wastes no time gaining elevation. Amazing trail. Kearsarge Pass Trail Beginning at Onion Valley, the Kearsarge Pass Trail travels through the John Muir Wilderness. 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. Between May 1 and November 1, overnight use is limited to 60 people per day. It was by far the steepest one yet but not too difficult because it was fairly short. Please learn from our mistake and lock up everything no matter what! Park on a pullout on Onion Valley road (paved). The USS Kearsarge was named for Kearsarge Peak in … Kearsage North Trail Begin your hike on the Kearsarge North trail where you will pass by a residential area. You’ll start off on the east side of the Sierra Crest, ascending up four miles of hot, sun-exposed switchbacks. 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. After Kearsarge Pass you have entered Kings Canyon National Park, which is not dog friendly. 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. 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. I arrived at 7:30AM on Sunday and got the last spot in the circle. From Flower Lake to Kearsarge Pass, the trail is a smooth, steady grade, without the rocky steps found on many other trails. Hampshire State Parks: Sunapee, Winslow, Rollins, Wadleigh New Hampshire State Parks: Sunapee Winslow. 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