Kearsarge Pass Trail to Kearsarge Lakes

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John Muir Wilderness

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. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 11.0 miles Elevation Gain: 3,474 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

snow

Although the John Muir Wilderness portion of this trail is dog friendly. After Kearsarge Pass you have entered Kings Canyon National Park, which is not dog friendly.

hiking
1 day ago

Our favorite hike! Only went up to the pass this time (Sat 5/30) but a few small patches of snow--no snowgear needed. Trail is busy up to Little Pothole. Caught some fish at Gilbert!

hiking
10 days ago

Great hike, spectacular views. Still a lots snow

East to follow the trail, even some parts were under snow, snow spike is necessary in this season. The overall experience is perfect!

hiking
icy
muddy
scramble
snow
1 month ago

Absolutely beautiful area, but I will need to come back and complete this when the snow recedes. I barely made a half mile and I post holed to my waist. I brought micro spikes, but snowshoes are mandatory

Beautiful. About a foot of snow

Excellent route! The well graded trail from Onion Valley campground to Kearsarge pass makes for easy waking (or running), and the views and incomparable. The descent to Kearsarge lakes doesn’t add that much more distance, and makes for a perfect lunch/nap spot to explore before heading back. The descent back from the pass is an easy downhill run. Perfect high Sierra day trip!

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike from Onion Valley trailhead to Kearsarge Pass. As a Dayhiker, not enough time to drop down to Kearsarge Lakes. It would be a 5 star, except for the fresh horse poop. On a hot day, the smell was disgusting, and good luck trying not to step in it. Why do they allow pack trips where there are backpackers and hikers? Why does the Forest Service let them make a profit? I don't get it.

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful trail, it's wonderful to pass the pass. It's a very moderate slope

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
9 months ago

WOW, what a hike! We started at 11am on Saturday with full backpacks and reached the pass in about 3 hours. It was a steady incline all the way up, but not too bad, but the sun definitely got us. Bring sunscreen and a hat!! It's gorgeous the whole way: lakes, water streams, flowers, even saw some deer. And when we finally got to the pass, we were in awe of the view below of the other side. Almost felt unreal. And you're rewarded with a nice breeze as a bonus. After the pass, it's very easy to get down to the Kearsarge lakes, took us less than an hour. We camped overnight near one of them and saw the most beautiful sunset! Going back to the pass is definitely steep but not too far in distance, and given the fact that we rested well, it was pretty easy (even with backpacking packs). We were on this hike for a total of 26 hours and wish we had more time to go even further. Highly recommend!!

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
9 months ago

One of the best backpacking trips I have ever done (completed between Aug 24-25, 2019), and now we wish we had more time to explore the area beyond Kearsarge Lakes. Not much shade on the way up so definitely wear plenty of sunscreen. Beautiful alpine scenery and you get to enjoy waterfalls, a stream and I believe three beautiful alpine lakes on the way up to Kearsage Pass. It’s all uphill but nothing too strenuous for the experienced hiker and backpacker, and once you reach the pass (and enjoy a break win some much-deserved views) it’s all downhill to the beautiful valley below. My girlfriend and I did an overnight backpacking trip and were treated to beautiful weather and one of the most amazing sunsets we have ever seen. We completed the hike up (with full backpacks) in about 4 hours with a few breaks including a longer one at the pass, and the way back was about 3 hours for us. Some people said leaving was tough but the way back to the pass while quite steadily uphill was also not that long. Highly recommend it!

Onion valley is very pretty. The hike was amazing! The elevation got me though. Still, well worth it. The lakes felt kind of warm, I'd definitely swim there if I had time. Highly recommended hike!

Beautiful hike, definitely a decent amount of sun exposure but only for a couple miles to the pass. Stunning lakes and the view from the pass was EPIC!

Best camp spot at Kearsarge Lakes!

hiking
bugs
no shade
off trail
rocky
9 months ago

Always an amazing hike!

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful

hiking
9 months ago

Windy when you reach the pass but absolutely beautiful views. The initial climb on the return is tough but we made the trek back to the trailhead from lake Kersarge in about 2.5 hours.

hiking
10 months ago

Fantastic hike! The views are unbelievable.

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