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Was up there last Saturday and had some light dusting of snow. The fall colors were out and what an awesome trail and time..

We did this hike in early September as part of our trip to the pass. All of the lakes offer nice shade, pretty views and peaceful surroundings! I highly recommend continuing to Kearsarge Pass after taking a snack break at this lake!
We didnt run into too many bugs, but I imagine mosquitos can be bad at certain times of year, or even day. There was sporadic shade on the way up but nice trees offering quality shade around all the lakes.

Just spent the weekend on this trail. Fishing was amazing at the Kearsage Lakes! Hiking in from onion valley was rough but a huge accomplishment when we reached the top of the pass. The decent into the Kearsage Lakes from the pass is very fast. When we packed out it only took us 3 hours because most of this 11 miles is down hill on the onion valley side. This was my first time backpacking in the Seirras and coming from the east coast this trip was a real eye opener. I would recommend this trail to anyone that thinks they can tough it out. Weather is getting a bit cold this time of year now. Low’s were in the teens at night and there was some snow at about 10,000 feet.

One of my favorite hikes!

Great way to get up high into the Sierra Nevada without having to climb far. Trailhead begins about 10,000 ft, next to good campground facilities. We did full-on steak, wine, the works, at the trailhead, then left non-hike gear behind...all "smellables" in the roomy bear-boxes. Plenty of water on the trail. Everything beyond the trailhead rises to "no open fires" altitude. So, bring warm camp clothing, and enjoy the stars.

Day hike to Kearsarge Lakes after three inches of fresh overnight pow. The trail is super gradual and easy on the knees as you climb to Kearsarge Pass (compared to other high elevation trails in California). Don’t stop at the pass! Descend to the lakes and be treated to the reflection of the mountains towering above you. Definitely in my top three favorite hikes.

TLDR: Moderate climb to the pass. Everything else is fairly flat. Sandy trail surface for at 2/3 of the hike. Some rocks on the climb to the pass. Plenty of water in the lake.

Nice easy hike to do for acclimation before knocking out Whitney or Langley. My GPS showed about 11200ft at the lakeside. I was surprised by the view at the top of the pass. I'm used to having to work my butt off to get that kind of view.

1 month ago

This trail is a treat: seclusion, scenery, available water, and a good work-out due to elevation gain. It took us four and one-half hours to arrive a Grass Lake, and less than three hours to get back to Whitney Portal. Met a sole hiker on his way down the trail, and one family of four near Grass Lake. As others have stated, you get to hike a trail that is nearly void of other people. Beautiful scenery, too. I posted a few photos. One of my favorite day hikes, and no permit is required (unless you are an overnight visitor). Enjoy...

Loved it. Nice easy day trip or overnight.

1 month ago

We went in early June. The meadows were green and the lakes were gorgeous. There are plenty of good camping spots around the lakes. The hike cuts through various types of alpine scenery and is capped off by a killer view of New Army Pass.

We loved this hike!!! My Hubby and I set out for a 5 mile hike so we only went to Flower Lake

2 months ago

I still can’t get over how secluded and lucky I felt on this trail after seeing hundreds of people at the Whitney portal store. It felt like the best kept secret in the area. With everybody clamoring to get up with me, I thought for certain this trail would be busy given that it’s within walking distance start from the Whitney portal. Nope. Nobody. Just pristine scenery and my dogs.

I chose this trail because I didn’t need a permit and I could bring my dogs. Both of my dogs are exceptionally trail savvy and have done very long hikes and overnight backpacking trips. That being said, I’m glad I brought trail shoes for them because this trail tends to get very sharp. Fortunately there is plenty of water on the route so I didn’t need to pack water for them.

Like many people before me said, this is a well marked trail for the first four miles, then tends to get a little bit hard to navigate in the last mile or so. Here are my tips if you are going to make the climb…

1. Make sure to check in with this trail map so that it tracks your location the entire way up. When the trail gets unclear, this map in particularly well save you from getting off course. So much of the trail is very clear, but in some areas it looks like people did their own offshoots which made navigation a little bit confusing.

2. If in the summer months, start at dawn to avoid high temperatures on the ascent. I started at 6:30 AM and started to peel off layers by 9 AM because of the heat. I had the sun at my back on the decent.

3. Watch for the cairns. They truly helped me stay on course.

4. If you have dogs, have them wear boots. They sure hate those boots, but the moment I took off one of my dogs boots for a break, she tore open a pad badly. The rocks at the top are super sharp.

5. I didn’t see another soul. while I enjoyed being secluded, I’m glad that I checked in with people before and after. This is not at all like Whitney. You are alone out there.

6. Keep a close eye out on the map as you get to the very top. The last stretch between the tiny lake before the end of the trail feels like a false finish. The last home requires bouldering. Then you are treated to a crystal clear quiet lake. It’s just beyond the big grassy meadow and small lake.

It took me five hours to get to the top, I spent one hour resting at the top and it took me four hours to get down, with a total of 10 hours. I consider myself extremely fit, and was definitely challenged in the last mile and a half. Just keep going! It is worth it.

outstanding. hard workout

Epic High Sierra views on a moderate hike.

2 months ago

Excellent trail for a first time backpacker with amazing views and a peaceful lake to top it all off. I highly recommend this hike, it's easy to get to the trailhead and the trail is well maintained throughout.

2 months ago

Completed the Cottonwood Loop yesterday (8-17-18). The Old Army Pass was a bit scary. Coming down New Army Pass was in much better condition. Breathtaking scenery! The weather was good. Did have some rain, which made the trip even more enjoyable. This trail is a must and will definitely expand our trip in to the Sequoia National Forest on our next trip!

2 months ago

the trail is overgrown, ill-defined, very steep and scrambly. great place to get away from crowds, get a workout (steep) and explore off trail (you will lose the trail more than once). fun but not my favorite.

We hiked this trail july 29- august 1 in the opposite direction. First day was spent at long lake where a lot of people had camped to summit mt langley. Then over new army pass the second day and into rock creek. We camped at rock creek but we should have headed to soldier lake. Oh well. Last night we spend at chicken spring lake before we hiked out the short 4 miles out the last day over cottonwood pass. Not too many mosquitoes and no ice. Great hike! The fires did spoil our views in some parts. Lakes were beautiful.

great hike and excellent fishing. snow in the spring and multple water falls.

Decent amount of parking. Was warm but not too hot. Trails aren't marked too well but is easy to follow. A few spots to fill up on water on the way up. Lots of amazing views all around.

A beautiful hike that rewards you with solitude at Kearsarge lake. Whatever you do, don’t stop at the pass. Keep going until you reach the lake. It’s definitely worth it!

Love this trail. Easy to follow. Challenging enough :-)
Beautiful views of the lakes

Unbelievably beautiful. Lakes, waterfalls and views throughout the entire hike. The upper half of the hike was completely covered in snow (early July) so bring a map and know where you are going! The snow was difficult and made the hike long and challenging, however we were able to slide down the side of the mountain on the way down and felt like we were kids again. The views at the top are very rewarding. This hike took us 7 hours with the snow being a major factor. I was wearing tennis shoes and regretted it. Wear water proof boots if you have them. Lots of snacks and water are a must.

-the boosk

I saw a sign with madlock on it but no flower lake sign. It was a moderate but beautiful hike for me

July 6th and 7th, 2018.

Awesome backpacking trip! Camped at Flower Lake the first night, summit Kearsarge Pass the next morning, made it back down to Onion Valley trailhead by noon. Very buggy, so don’t forget to bring your bug balm!

3 months ago

Perfect introduction to the Whitney Zone area for me. I have extensively backpacked north of Whitney and have purposely stayed away from this area due to popularity. This trail, however, is most definitely a path less traveled and we barely saw anyone, making it a lovely weekend.

The trail starts very mellow and the gradual climb up between two immense and beautiful geological mammoths, amongst the trees and alongside a rushing Creek. It's soft on the feet for about 2 miles then it changes to quite rocky trail.

Then the trail gets very strenuous and harder to follow up to Grass lake. From Grass to Camp Lake you're tired and feeling elevation, and it's about to get harder.

We climbed up to Meysan at the outlet (difficult, steep bouldering for about 500ft up) and found a camping spot.

Breathtaking! Fishing is plentiful. We were alone and the weather was extremely pleasant. We could comfortablely hang out in our swimsuits at 4pm.

It took 6 hours to hike the 5.2 miles up, and 4 hours to get back the next day, including a detour to Grass Lake (which is equally breathtaking!).

This is a tough hike but the reward is immense : beautiful views, solitude, fish, challenging hike, cross country experience, climbing experience.

Great hike from beginning to end. There is the option to continue on toward cottonwood pass.

Went on July 2, the weather was warm and sunny until an afternoon storm rolled in and rain and hail came dumping down for about 30 min.

The trail is in great condition. Make sure you start at the right parking lot, if you don’t, it adds an extra mile or so to the hike. Most of the trail is a gradual, sandy, incline. At about 3 miles in, it ascends to the pass where you connect to the PCT. At that point, you’re almost there. Just continue on to the slight right turn to the lake which is a short walk from the PCT.

Beautiful trail, clear lakes and springs . The elevational gain isn’t hard per se (est 2.5k) but I saw it sneak up on people.

Hard, and hot! And the bugs are out for blood, be warned, but so beautiful!

Awesome scenery in this loop! We did a variant wherein were cut down to South Fork Lakes, otherwise the same. All the lakes are spectacular. Chicken Spring Lake was on my list to see and it didn’t disappoint. Lower Soldier Lake was also great. Tons of fish to catch at South Fork. There was still some snow blocking the trails at both Old and New Army Passes but nothing insurmountable. Good number of mosquitos and Lower Soldier but no surprise this time of year (late June) so we had nets and spray. Some marmots about but our food was only hassled by chipmunks. Nothing proper storage didn’t fix. Would do this again for sure!

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