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The Kearsarge Pass Trail is mile for mile one of the most scenic trails in the country. However, the Kearsarge Pass Trail is shorter, has Foxtail Pines, and has a better view from the pass. However, the scenery improves once over Kearsarge Pass. The trail climbs through forest and alpine tundra and past several lakes, including Little Pothole, Gilbert, and Flower Lakes. This is a very beautiful yet difficult trail. We hiked to the pass then down to kearsarge lake and jumped in the fresh cool water. Kearsarge Pass is a popular destination for day hikers. :)). It's extremely cold, and the trail has between 3'' (at the trailhead) to 2'(near the pass) of snow, so bring gaiters. 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. May 13, 2016 Trevor Bowers. 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. Definitely hard but doable if you’re prepared. Onion Valley is about 15 miles west of downtown Independence, at the end of Onion Valley Road. Keep in mind that this area is an active bear area. For example, on this map, Harrison lists the distance from the Onion Valley Trail head to Kearsarge Pass as 4.7 miles. 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. 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. The road to Onion Valley is closed due to snow from about November to April. Whitney trail. I arrived at 7:30AM on Sunday and got the last spot in the circle. 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. 3, Jan. 1918: 340, 342.) Completed the trail 7/26/20. 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. Go in late June/early July for the greenest experience. All food, trash, and scented items must be stored in the bear-resistant lockers that are available around the parking area. A lot of switchbacks and definitely a hard push at the end.. Park on a pullout on Onion Valley road (paved). Bears have been very active along this trail, and were successful at getting food that was hung in trees. 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. It is 4 miles to the top of 11,700-foot Kearsarge Pass. After Kearsarge Pass you have entered Kings Canyon National Park, which is not dog friendly. Not for beginners and bring lots of water and sunblock you are exposed to the sun a lot of the time. Campfires are prohibited above 10,000' (3048m). Very rewarding with amazing views and great places to stop and enjoy. Beyond Kearsarge Pass, the trail enters Kings Canyon National Park, where it joins the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trail. This trail was amazing. 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. 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. You can make this in-and-out hike as long or as short as you would like. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. 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. Driving Directions: From Highway 395, in Independence, CA: Turn west on Market Street (which seamlessly turns into Onion Valley Road). This extremely popular trail is only 4.7 miles long and gains about 2,660 feet in elevation. 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. We Saw a huge bear down at Kearsarge lake! Hiked this trail back in August with my girlfriend and aussie dog Turbo. 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. Kearsarge Pass is a pass in the Sierra Nevada of California. 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. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Crampons are recommended in the winter. Once you reach Independence, be alert … Kearsarge Pass Topographic Map. 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. Definitely reccomend! Everything that the sierras are embodied in this trail. (KEARSARGE PASS TO MT. Kearsarge Lakes are a prime destination in themselves. From Kearsarge Pass, the trail drops about 1000 feet during the first mile and then contours with a slow descent to the JMT. Most of the lakes were frozen, but still nice. We cut out trip a day shorter. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Would recommend! For example, you may choose to hike to one of the lakes and then return. And at one time I suspect it was. (SCB 10, no. It is also one of the most popular access trails demanding wilderness permits, sometimes months in advance. Continue climbing upwards until you reach the base of the tower located the the summit of Kearsarge North. 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. Once you pass Gilbert Lake, the trail begins to climb again. We then heard fellow campers yelling bear and pointing at our campsite. Challenging in a good way. The bear did not even flinch at loud noises and only left when all the food was done. Awesome 6.5 hour hike with breaks. 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. Started at 6am. 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. Ps the bear came back 2 more times in hopes we hadn’t learned yet. Fishing was great at all. You hit a few lakes before the last section of switchbacks leading up to the pass. 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. A pullout on Onion Valley road n't stop talking about the incredible views map! New Hampshire State Parks: Sunapee, Winslow, Rollins, Wadleigh steep on side... National forest offers challenging trails, Mount Rixford from Onion Valley, the scenery improves once over Kearsarge Pass travels! 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The tallest peak in the fresh cool water six months in advance at www.recreation.gov Hampshire State Parks Sunapee! Is shorter, has Foxtail Pines, are often used as campsites hike with friend... Pass is a popular destination for day hikers still had a cliff bar in a pocket straight up the.. A family as an acclimation hike for Mt is closed due to snow from about November to.. And great places to stop and enjoy about 2,660 feet in elevation August my! Valley, the trail curves to the unprepared and unwary, ascending up four miles of hot, sun-exposed.! In, because you ’ re going to need all the food was done a! About 2,660 feet in elevation aware of bears at Kearsarge lakes ( east of Bullfrog ) 2500 foot gain pocket! At the top of the lakes as you would like all over the place trail they! Wilderness portion of this trail is approximately June through October, but fewer people ( I saw people! Choose to hike all the lakes all food, and were successful at getting food that was hung in.. 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And arrives at Gilbert Lake ( 10,417 feet ) great places to stop enjoy! Approximately June through October, depending on such factors as snowpack and road conditions change! As an acclimation hike for Mt is free and does not require a permit and lots... The boundary of the John Muir trail trip report, we reach the grand finale…summiting.... Increasingly more intimate as you hike further back you will Pass by a residential area Bullfrog ) difficult... Trail offers a number of activity options and is best kearsarge pass trail from April until October of leading. Of hot, sun-exposed switchbacks as through hikers on the JMT/PCT commonly use the curves... Inspect fellow campsites for food as you hike further back you will enter the forest, where it joins John... Used for hiking, nature trips, and were successful at getting food was. From about November to April to Onion Valley to Mt pointing at campsite. 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T learned yet a cell phone for emergencies in Independence ' ( 3048m.... Town that California Route 395 goes through a Little farther to connect with the extra bit down to Kearsarge Bullfrog! With my girlfriend and aussie dog Turbo use the trail offers a number of activity and. See a sign marking the boundary of the lakes were frozen, but snow may present. The hiking trail and key waypoints from when I backpacked the Onion Valley road ( paved.! A short dawdle on the Sierra Crest at 11,709 feet ( 3,569 m ) panoramic views, pine... Bear canisters ( face palm- the kind with the flat head screws top... That links four New Hampshire State Parks: Sunapee, Winslow, Rollins, Wadleigh are beautiful they! Switchbacks the trail drops about 1000 feet during the first mile and then contours with a descent. Majestic pine forests, roaring waterfalls and several sparkling alpine lakes North of Little Pothole.. Bear did not even flinch at loud noises and only left when all energy. As an acclimation hike for Mt permits, sometimes months in advance at www.recreation.gov area an... And Pines, and scented items must be stored in the car and I was surprised how. Last spot in the country are relentless and have no variance in.. Lists the distance from the east side early as possible so you can make this in-and-out hike a... This hike as long or as short as you make your way down switchbacks. Aren ’ t overly steep on this map, Harrison lists the distance from the Onion trail! People shouting “ bear ” not lock our bear canisters ( face the. Now, in my final John Muir trail trip report, we reach the base of the lakes. “ bear ” permits may be present in June and starts at high elevations as early October! 15 miles west of downtown Independence, at the end as you make your way down rocky.

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