Explore the most popular kid friendly 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

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.

The road is a long and bumpy ride. We drove in a Toyota Rav and has no issues thankfully but it took us 3 hours each way. I wouldn’t mess around with this, we saw no one out there.

The Grandstand or black rock structure was so awesome. It sticks out on as a stark distance between the playa. We climbed around on the rocks easily, it was very fun. Some bigger lizards too.

The Sailing Stones were my favorite. Unfortunately, a lot of people have vandalized them and you can tell the rocks that made the trails are not the rocks that someone placed there. There are also a lot of trails with no rocks at the beginning or end. It’s disappointing no one has respect for such an awesome phenomenon. There are some legitimate ones but I wish they would keep a better eye on the place.

Follow me on Instagram for pictures of the hikes and other adventures @wildrumpfie

Just was up there recently and weather was perfect! Wrote a little trip report too. Definitely be careful driving out there, we did get a flat tire on our way back! Still totally worth going to see this place in person.

I think it is important to experience the history of this place. Very thought-provoking and invokes wrenching emotions. The visitor center has great displays and a compelling documentary in their theater. Walking the site gives you a better impression, but a lot of the beauty has been lost (the gardens and parks). What cannot be taken away is the amazing views of the mountains on either side. The walk is easy - this is not as much about a hike as it is experiencing history.

off road driving
10 months ago

Great easy to moderate trail (at the higher elevations/along side spurs), very scenic. After traveling for a while up a pretty canyon, you end up high in the Inyo Mountains with great views of Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra. Definitely explore some of the spurs off to the west for the best 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.

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.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Beautiful wide view. Not much of a walk, but the vista is worth it!
The valley is used by fighter pilots for low canyon flight training. We saw two thundering by in the course of 30min, Quite impressive.

Great first time hike. I'm hooked!

off road driving
Monday, January 25, 2016

Nice little vista to get a better view of the canyon and valley before descending into Panamint Springs. There is a single bench where you can take in the views.

We were the only person there (other than a ranger making his rounds) so we just drove the half mile or so to the end of the trail.

Friday, December 11, 2015

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.

nature trips
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If you start across the Racetrack from the lot near the Grandstand, it's a surprisingly long walk across and back. On the way out from the Grandstand I passed what was left of a stream (moist earth and tumbleweed-type plants rooted) but on the way back didn't see it whatsoever! The rocks you want to see once you've checked out the Grandstand are way to the south end of the Playa, and more to the southeast end of it. If you go toward the south lot, you'll notice a lot of tracks with either no rock or the wrong rock trailing from it, sometimes a rock on each end of the trail smh. But heading east you'll find the less-disturbed rocks and their rightful tracks. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE OR TAKE ROCKS.

And DEFINITELY drive out in a car suitable for offroading. Its a bumpy 27 mile drive the whole way!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I wouldn't exactly call this a trail, it's more of a "get out and wander around aimlessly." The "Trail" starts out at a turnout on Racetrack road, and you simply head out onto the dry playa to explore at your leisure. Starting from the pullout at the northern end of Racetrack Playa, you get to explore The Grandstand, a dark rock outcrop that stands out in stark contrast to the nearly white, dead flat playa. You'll also see many "moving rocks" scattered about, mostly near the Grandstand and between it and the trailhead. Based on my own examination of perhaps fifty of these, many of them were apparently placed here by thoughtless idiots for the purpose of an "I was here" photo, as I could find no evidence of any of them having moved under the influence of natural forces. To see the real thing, head back to your car.
Drive to the pullout at the southern end of the playa, park, and walk east. You'll see authentic moving rocks (note the long trails in the mud), and you may even be able to see the curvature of the earth in the extraordinarily flat lakebed. Recent scientific studies finally caught some of these rocks in the act of moving, showing that it happens when there is a thin layer of water on the playa, and perhaps a sheet of floating ice. The ice makes a large surface for the wind to work on, and it drags any imbedded rocks along with it wherever it goes. Another theory says that rocks may move across wet mud under very high winds, which have been recorded as high as 70 miles per hour near the playa's surface.

Very nice visitors center capturing the essence of the lives of the people "detained" during WWII and their perseverance in unimaginable conditions.

During our visit, we met a gentleman who was "interned" at age six in the Tule Lake Relocation Center, one of ten camps created. He spoke of the living conditions and even though these re-constructed barracks were good, he pointed out many discrepancies from reality. Mostly things were more rustic than depicted. But this place is eerie, you can "feel" the anxious energy of the people interned. A must see!

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, March 12, 2015

Great hike. The peak is NOT the same as a crater rim hike. This hike is much more strenuous than the rim hike.

As stated below, you start out next to the Racetrack (the Playa) and hike straight up the eastern side of the mountain face. The hike is not for those who are nervous about heights. There are a series of switchbacks up the trail which is fairly defined. Lots of areas with loose rocks/gravel, so watch your footing! At the top there is no defined trail to the southern peak, its a scramble to the top if you want to challenge yourself. You can follow a trail to the north peak which is smaller if you want to extend the trip.

Make sure you bring a lot of water and snacks. Its only roughly a 3 mile hike but it can get very hot and will mostly be dry. There's no coverage except the mountains shadow (we began our hike at 1 and by the time we were heading down, we had plenty of shade from the setting sun). Amazing views of the valley as well as the eastern side of the Sierras. Great way to get away from the crowds at the racetrack.

Moving and important historic in the Owens valley of California. This is one of the relocation sites for Japanese Americans interned by the US following Pearl Harbor. The exhibits are excellent and getting better as they continue to develop this historic site.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ubehebe Peak is NOT Ubehebe Crater. It is found some 20 miles southerly directly west of The Racetrack. The trail climbs 2 miles along old mining trail to a saddle and this part is in quite good shape. After this, it splits. Left has heavy trail markings pointing to it and goes up the side to "Little Ubehebe", a shorter peak to the north along sometimes sketchy terrain can rate a class 2. Right looks more worn and I did not follow very far. It travels around the edge of the peak for a while and may be the continuation of the mine trail to mines in the side of the mountain a little higher up than the saddle. Continuing to Ubehebe Peak from the north is class 3. USGS climbed the south side to place the marker and made no note of the difficulty on that side.

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