Kearsarge Pass Trail to Kearsarge Lakes

HARD 71 reviews
#4 of 45 trails in

Kearsarge Pass Trail to Kearsarge Lakes is a 11 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Independence, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
11.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3474 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

snow

backpacking
4 months ago

Great trail to enter Kings canyon and the JMT. Very well maintained. The views at the pass are amazing. I’ve done a few over nighters and trips to Whitney from here.

hiking
5 months ago

Only saw one other car at the trailhead. Great day hike up to the pass and kings canyon boundary. This trail is really well maintained and the switchbacks are well graded.

hiking
5 months ago

We went down to Bullfrog Lake, and back up. I was slow coming back up but it was worth the pain, paid off pushing it. Would recommended, so amazingly beautiful. It will work you, but like I said it pays off.

backpacking
6 months ago

Stunning views from Kearsarge Pass, will repeat to go down to lakes next time.

backpacking
6 months ago

Tough, beautiful, well kept trail . Very scenic. Ran into several parties that were mid - PCT or beginning a portion of the PCT with interesting tales to tell. Can't wait to return with my family.

7 months ago

An spectacular trail with beautiful views of lakes, forest, cascades and moderately trafficked.

backpacking
7 months ago

Really nice trail.

backpacking
7 months ago

We did this trail last week to resupply some people hiking JMT. It was awesome. The trail is very well maintained, lots of resting areas to catch breath if need to. It's def a challenging hike but the three of us were all at different levels as far as experience and were able to do it just fine. We hiked over pass to the lakes on the other side, incredible experience! Views amazing!

hiking
8 months ago

I did this hike this past Saturday. Absolutely breathtaking views, since there was still snow on the mountains behind the lakes. I'd highly advise you bring trekking poles, otherwise it might be difficult to cross the snow patches you'll see on the hike. They're no big deal, even in trail runners, but just to be safe I'd have the poles.

This is a difficult hike. The hardest part for me was coming back up over the pass from the other side, so pace yourself for that.

backpacking
8 months ago

This trail is rated correctly as hard, One starts at Lone Pine to obtain the proper permits titled "Kearsarg Trail" then head to Independence, then all the way up Onion Valley. This is a very popular exit point for the PCT and the JMT so pay it forward and pick up some hiker trash.

I modified the route to end at Lake Charlotte which is an additional 3.5 miles past Kearsarg peak. Which goes along the PCT and JMT for a short period. Once at the lake the views are stunning. There is also a ranger station at the lake. Camping is limited to two days only.

Water: from the trail head water can be obtained at the first lake easily. If only going to the pass then three liters will be fine, if continuing water can then be obtained at the Kearsarg lakes I recommend two liters to make Lake Charlotte.

Round trip is roughly 15.5 miles with a start elevation gain of 2369 from Onion Valley then on the return an elevation gain of 1390.

To Each Hiker Is Their Own!

backpacking
9 months ago

Difficult as a first hike of the season. Only made it to First Lake because the Pups were worn out. Beautiful views, plenty of water, stream crossings, snow in July.

backpacking
9 months ago

Worth the hard work. What an amazing place on this planet!

hiking
Friday, September 23, 2016

Hiked this Trail September 8th thru 11th 2016 hiked to the end of the Kearsarge basin explored JMT Camped our third night Kearsarge Lakes hiked out on 11th perfect weather great experience fantastic doorway to Kings Canyon.

backpacking
Monday, August 22, 2016

Beautiful trail with views of lakes at every level. Obtained permits at Independence visitor center. Parked at Onion Campground trail head. First night camped at Gilbert Lake. Second night at Matlock Lake. This area is busy on the weekend around Gilbert and Flower lake. Definitely recommend this trail with backpacking overnight to experience beautiful scenery and depending where you camp, some solitude. Completed trail to the pass with amazing views into Kings Canyon NP mid August 2016.

backpacking
Saturday, August 13, 2016

A great trail and pass crossing that will push you but well worth the work and plenty of terrific camp sites around the lakes on the other side.

trail running
Saturday, August 13, 2016

Absolutely amazing trail. We went over the pass and down to the JMT taking the higher trail. Heading back via the lakes.
Quite busy but very pleasant and very runable!

hiking
Friday, June 10, 2016

This is a beautiful hike. There was still big patches of snow on the ground on the last quarter of the hike. Couldn't ask for better weather either.
Took about 3 hours getting up and almost two coming down
Ran into a lot of serious PCT hikers two months into their journey Turns out that it's a great artery off the main trail to restock at Independence,
I would definitely do it again

Monday, May 30, 2016

This is definitely my favorite hike so far. We did this hike on May 28, 2016 and a good chunk of the trail is still covered in thick snow which makes the trail hard to find as you get closer to the pass. Luckily this trail is very popular and all the shoe prints in the snow helped me not get lost! The trail was easier than I thought it would be and it was snowing most of the way up and down the trail. It took us a good 5.5 hrs to complete it. The views were AMAZING! A definite must if you're in the area and I highly recommend camping at Onion Valley Campground!

hiking
Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hard as a day hike but worth it if you can't get permits. The hardest part is feeling the elevation once you get past heart lake and to the top. I was probably moving at .5 miles an hour for the last 30 mins of the hike. Bring plenty of water, obviously! Went in October to escape the LA heat. We didn't swim in the lakes because it's high enough elevation to keep it cool so that we weren't dying to jump in. We got a late start so parking was tight but we made a spot out of nothing. Beautiful turquoise lakes :) not much foliage at the top, but a rewarding view once you reach the pass. Go!

camping
Monday, August 03, 2015

The view from the top is breathtaking!

hiking
Friday, July 31, 2015

Worth every single step... just beautiful!!...

hiking
Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hiked over the pass and down into Vidette Meadow to meet my son, daughter-in-law and daughter who were hiking the JMT. It was strenuous but well worth the effort.

hiking
Monday, May 11, 2015

One of my favorite hikes in California. It is strenuous and will be an all-day thing. The views from the top are breathtaking. We brought our little coyote dog with us and she loved it! Make sure to bring plenty of water!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Beautiful hike up.... 8500 ft.... Spring melt.... Frozen lakes and stunning views
4 to 5 hours up to the pass.... With time to stop, take in the scenery and enjoy a sandwich at the top...... I'll be back

Thursday, January 01, 2015

I have been to the top 6 times. I come into the Rea Lakes loop this way. This has to be one of my most favorite spots in the world next to Half Dome. Go early and watch the sun come up.

hiking
Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Hiked to the pass & back on Fathers Day. The scenery is absolutely stunning with all the waterfalls, lakes & high, snow dusted peaks. Big Pothole still had some ice floating on the surface. Met many PCT hikers heading into town to re-supply. Added Golden Trout Lake Trail on the return trip. This one was actually more my style - there wasn't another soul & it's apparent this is a rarely used trail. Next time I may try to loop it by going over Mt. Gould.

hiking
Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kings canyon is my favorite place to hike. This hike starts at around 8,000 off of onion valley dr . Waterfall visible from parking lot and steep almost right away. Very windy around sunset camped at flower lake very peaceful here and a few sequoias around. I love sequoias at sunset because they almost glow orange. Next day strenuous hike past heart shaped lake and a few others to the treeless kearsarge pass 11760 ft. Down to kearsarge lake where we spent the next 2 nights fishing and jumping in the lake. Exploring and gazing at the 14,000 ft peaks ! Great getaway from your hectic life. Leave your cell phone off as there is no reception the entire hike. I highly recommend bringing a lightweight one person blow up raft to float around the lake on .

hiking
Thursday, August 29, 2013

This is 4.7 miles each way for a total of 9.4 miles. This makes for a hard day hike or can be split up by camping at either Gilbert or Flower lake on the way. If you go over the pass, the beauty is even better! I have done this trail 4 times in my life and I will be a repeat costumer! Love love love! Park at Onion Valley at 9,200 feet and climb 4.7 miles to the pass at 11,760 feet. It will literally take your breath away! Don't forget to reserve a wilderness permit and bear canister if staying over night. Bears will eat your food as it has happened to me more than once.

hiking
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First, the Overview of this hike states 8.3 miles out and back, but the description states 5.5 miles to the pass, so there is a few mile discrepancy on this site. The reality is closer to 5.5 each way as stated in the description. You will add to this distance if you visit one of the lakes to soak your feet or take a swim.

This is an awesome hike; rugged mountain views, beautiful blue and green lakes, and vistas that will take your breath away.

The trail has a nice grad to it, there are no serious uphill climbs, although its almost all uphill. This is a 7 hour round trip hike for those who are not trying to set a record. We really enjoyed this hike and will do it again.

hiking
Friday, July 05, 2013

I have done this trail with the Rae Lakes Loop twice now... 56.5 miles total ( give or take} , Once in 2010 and again in 2012. Going back again this year for a 3peat..2013.. That should tell you how awesome it is.

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