Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake Trail

HARD 4 reviews
#10 of 33 trails in

Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake Trail is a 36.2 mile 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 May until October.

36.2 miles 12188 feet Out & Back





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Starting at the Onion Valley Campgroud just west of Independence, CA, this trail has a huge climb from 9,200 feet to Kearsarge Pass at 11,760 and then back down to Charlotte Lake around 10,300 feet. I estimate this is closer to 18 miles (9 miles one way). Views are amazing!

5 months ago

8 months ago

Solo trip. June 26, 2016. I made it to heart lake and set up camp for the night. Be very aware, it is a challenging climb down to the lake, and a exhausting climb back up to the trail, especially with a 45lb pack. After some early morning fishing I resumed my climb and summited Kearsarge pass around noon. The scenery is epic, as good as it gets. The lakes are like aquariums, trout everywhere. Lots of PCT thru hikers and everyone I met was super friendly. A must hike.

3 years ago

This is just about as good as backpacking gets! Start at Onion Valley Campground and follow signs towards Kearsarge Pass. After the pass, there will be a cutoff to a lower/longer route that travels by the lower lakes (Kearsarge and Bullfrog Lakes). Continue on the high route and enjoy the views. Signs will guide you further west. You will cross the PCT intersection and less than a mile after that, you will arrive at Charlotte Lake. This should be broken up into at least 2 days as only a trail runner could do this in a day. I prefer to take 4 days. Night 1: Gilbert or Flower Lake. Night 2: Charlotte Lake. Night 3: Kearsarge Lakes. This is just South East from the Rae Lakes Loop. This is more like 18 miles and don't forget to reserve your wilderness permit. Here is my blog on the trip: http://avenuealife.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/onion-valley-to-charlotte-lake-backpacking/

5 years ago

An absolute must! One of the many pristine backcountry treks in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of CA. Pounding up to Kearsarge Pass is truly breathtaking. I recommend taking a side trip to the Pinnacles and Lakes. Bopping around Bull Frog Lake is quick and fun (no camping allowed) and hitting Charlotte Lake was beyond enjoyable. Charlotte Lake is a really nice Bivouac place.