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Kearsarge Pass Trail to Kearsarge Lakes

hard(226)
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.

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
6 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
6 months ago

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

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
7 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
7 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
7 months ago

Always an amazing hike!

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful

hiking
7 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
8 months ago

Fantastic hike! The views are unbelievable.

hiking
no shade
snow
8 months ago

This trail offers the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. There’s some work getting there—uphill almost all the way to the pass—but it is absolutely worth it. The hardest part, both figuratively and literally, is leaving. The trek back to the pass from the Lakes is exhausting. As for my recent visit, I went on 7/26/19. As noted by others who have gone recently, there are still (!) two snowfields that cover the trail. I don’t recommend crossing them—they are slippery and have large boulders at the bottom, presenting the risk of serious injury. Instead, I recommend taking a lightly worn route around the bottom of the snowfields. It’s obvious local pack services have used this route—you should, too, for safety.

hiking
snow
8 months ago

Beautiful hike. Just a little snow needs to be traversed on the eastern side of the pass. Plenty of water along the trail.

What a beautiful trail. Had such a blast the whole time, the beautiful views just keep coming! To those worries about snow- as of today it’s almost all gone. We only crossed two small snow fields on the eastern side of the pass. I will say this- the description says dogs are allowed but if you continue beyond the pass to the lakes they are not allowed and that’s marked everywhere. Enjoy!

backpacking
bugs
8 months ago

Hard is an excellent description for this trail. We started Friday 7/19 around Noon, made it to Flower lake, then up and over to the first Kearsage Lake site on Saturday. The climb out and back on Sunday was much easier than it looked like it might be, especially looking up at the pass from the lake on Sunday morning. Only a couple short snow fields to cross, which we did without putting on the microspikes. The eastern approach to the pass was completely snow-free, and the weather at night (both sides of the pass) was probably only in the high 40s, low 50s. Mosquitoes were a pain. Great trip!

Beautiful trail. Well maintained and 98% of the snow is gone! I was so worried going in that we would have so much snow to trudge though and accorded to everyone I ran into it’s finally and suddenly disappeared. What a beautiful backcountry trip.

hiking
8 months ago

Backpacked down the Kearsarge Lakes 7/1—7/2, snow higher up but totally doable with poles, micro spikes and desire! Took longer than usual, snow and finding the right path. Heart and Pothole Lake were pretty frozen over, Kearsarge Lakes has a little ice floating on them. Camping on a flat dirt spot was challenging but found a few! Weather was perfection!

hiking
snow
8 months ago

Took a visit to this trail yesterday (July 9th), quite a bit of snow covering the trail below heart lake and above. Definitely took more time to find the trail due to boot/shoe markings going in different directions.

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