Explore the most popular camping trails near Independence with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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.

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

1 month ago

Pros: You won't run into many people, you'll have a peaceful time while there. The trail is straight uphill so the next day will be super easy coming down :) :)

Cons: if you're bringing a dog be prepared to lift them over huge boulders that are part of the trail, this was very cumbersome and caused quite a bit of anxiety for the dog and myself.
Trail is easy to loose, trail needs some upkeep.
not a lot of fish.

Backpacked in on 6/16/18. Very steep with lots of scree only to be out done by enormous boulders that you must climb over and around. The trail isn’t marked very well which can lead to wasted time looking for said trail. Spend the effort going up Kearsarge.

Great hike up to Flower Lake, patches of snow on the hills, but trails and campsites are clear. A bit cold at night, no bugs. Saturday night there were a handful of campers but Sunday night had the place to myself. Take a left when you hit the lake and find more secluded campsites on the hill. The lake is clear and green, you can watch the trout swim past your line. I day hiked up to Kearsarge Pass. Fill up on water before you go, it's not as plentiful as you climb. It's also very exposed, a challenging but doable climb. From the top you can dip into the valley below and camp at the Kearsarge Lakes or push on to Charlotte Lake or up to Rae Lakes, both are supposed to be gorgeous.

One of my favorite hikes I did in this area (probably nr.1). It is definitely moderate to strenuous (I hike quite a bit) so be prepared for a steep hike. The gate was closed, so we had to park our car further down the street - which added an extra 2 miles one way to our hike. You can go higher up if you feel like it once you reach Flower like (which is the third lake. The first one is very small, the second one is also beautiful). When we went, in late April, the lakes were still frozen. There were some patches of snow along the way but no need for snowshoes if you only go up to Flower lake. You can go further if you want but would not recommend this time of the year without some experience and the proper gear.

There is lots of space around the lakes to camp at night if you feel like it. Will definitely do this hike again. I loved the views along the way and the frozen lake with the massive mountains in the back as a reward at the top are just majestic.

off road driving
9 months ago

Saline Valley Trail was closed, so I took "Saline Valley Road Drive" in, which is mile after mile of boring and monotonous washboard. Lippincott Mine Road was such a welcome change. Took the trail in a 2nd Gen Tacoma DCSB with 3" extended travel suspension, 32" BFGs and high clearance bumpers. Don't need a lot of clearance or anything extreme on this trail, but I wouldn't recommend anything that comes from the factory without a low-range t-case. Never used the locker, but the A-Trac did kick in a little in the front during some of the rockier sections. Gets pretty steep, off-camber and narrow with tight turns in the switch backs. Fun trail, with great views. The trail terminates at Homestake dry camp. If you pass through the camp and follow a rougher track you can find more private camping spots.

Hiked from Onion Valley Campground to Charlotte Lake in about 5 hours. Reviews below mention it's a 3-4 day trip but that is only if you average about 3 miles per day. We took the high route over bullfrog and kearsarge lakes because the route was less strenuous. Camped at Charlotte Lake and saw a couple bears so make sure you carry you bear canister! Overall it was an amazing hike with breathtaking views

We packed up to Gilbert Lake after spending the night at Onion Valley campground (highly recommend site #25) spent one night at gorgeous Gilbert Lake then a short skip to the even more beautiful Flower Lake. Plenty of campsites on the southern side of the lake and plenty of hungry trout to be caught!
This is a challenging uphill trail for anyone except for the most fit hiker. The elevation gain is to be respected and some may be more effected at 10k elevation than others.
Stunningly beautiful scenery and comparatively easy access to the John Muir Wilderness and Eastern Sierras.
Plenty of parking at the Onion Valley trailhead with vault toilets, trash and shared bear lockers.
Bear cans are required for overnight per park services although, most people we ran into didn't carry one.

Tough but worth it! This trail required some route finding as the main path is hard to find sometimes. I hiked up to the first a second lakes north of Golden Trout and then came back as I was running out of daylight. The trail is very steep and loose in places. Wear good shoes or boots and take your time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I hiked this route back in May as a way of testing my hiking abilities in the snow. The route was actually easier because of the conditions and I ascended the snow field, which cut out a lot of switchbacks (my guide notes that the first leg is "strenuous"). I made it up to the first lake with just crampons and a lot of determination, though poles or an axe would've made it easier. After a solitary lunch and a scan of the route up to the next group of lakes, I opted to head back down and save it for another trip. I'll post again after doing it in dry conditions. The best part about the route is the staggering views of the surrounding peaks, as well as a "gun sight" view of the Owens Valley on the way down. I saw no other hikers on the route. Certainly one of the best short hikes in the Eastern Sierra.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Hiked this trail on 7/3/17, the road was closed about a 1/4mi before the campground but there was plenty of parking on the side of the road. The trail was very nice with incredible views of the valley, a few waterfalls, & three lakes on the way to Flower.

Great trip

Great trails and amazing views. Snow made the higher lakes difficult to get to but this year there was a massive amount of snow. All around A++ would recommend.

off road driving
Tuesday, April 04, 2017

An epic drive in the middle of an epic drive. To be clear, you cannot go 'off-road' but there is so little of a route here that you'll feel like you are driving up the side of a mountain. Devils Racetrack at one end, Saline Springs at the other.

Great first time hike. I'm hooked!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Used this as a warm-up for Whitney while camping two nights in Onion Valley. Steep-ish trail and a bit of a bushwack until you get to the talus pile. We actually followed a false-trail too far up the talus/scree slope. The trail crosses the stream near the top of the obvious waterfall.

The lake north of Golden Trout lake actually had more fish, my buddy's only catch of the day was on his second cast. The loop portion of this route requires an off-trail class 2/3 scramble down granite with some decent exposure. We were glad the rain started after we got off this section.

Having no luck at Golden Trout Lake and with the rain picking up, we booked it back down to Onion Valley, and were able to out-pace the clouds. Decent little hike to get in some extra elevation and get the heart rate up if your acclimating in the area.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

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.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Beautiful hike - took my boys (under ten) for an overnighter. Hiked up to horseshoe and Gilbert lake and camped there. So much snow, but it was great once the sun came out.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Gilbert Lake was stunning.

Easy hike coming from Onion Valley Campground. Would suggest to check out K-Pass too!

Amazing place to camp and hike. Beautiful lakes and the campsites are clean and the host is wonderful!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Great trail, beautiful views, pretty remote - we only saw 2 people and there were only 2 other cars in the parking lot. The elevation gain was mild and the switch backs are large and not to steep. There lots of picturesque lakes to stop at, some were frozen over today. We went on the last day of March and we were blocked from getting to Heart lake by snow (if we had better gear we could have made it but we weren't prepared to trek through 2ft of snow) We saw lots of little animals, birds and chipmunks, and on the way up we saw a deer hanging out in the road.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

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/

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

This was my first camping/hiking experience after moving to California. I must say it was an amazing one! I only camped out for a couple of days but definitely got my fill. About 100 yards from the campsite is a small ice cold stream, which is good for soaking your feet after a long day of hiking.
The trails werent too difficult. Non-experienced hikers need not to worry. It's mostly switchbacks all the way up. There are a few small lakes to enjoy once you reach the first clearing. After that you will have to muster up some strenght to get to the next lake (which i believe is called heart lake). The rest of the trails up are pretty steep but the views from the top make all of your hard work totally worth it!
I hope i can make it back one of these days..

Friday, March 18, 2011

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.

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