Explore the most popular wildlife 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Great first time hike. I'm hooked!

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, 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.

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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

You get some great views of the crater on this hike around the rim. Definitely worth it.

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..

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I started on this trail from Independence to Mazourka Peak on Saturday, Sept 15, 2012. I came out at Big Pine 7 hours later. It was described as an easy one way in-one way out trail and that is true. I'm guessing the tower operators pay to keep the road smooth for service trucks But when I got to the peak, I noticed a trail going north to Papoose Flats with a sign on the side which said "Road to Papoose Flats washed out". So I took it. You continue north over two mountains through woods on a defined trail. Some technical skill required. No major obstacles. A lift would be helpful but not required-- i was on 35" tires with a 4" lift. No washed out road noticed. No lockers required. 4WD mandatory due to steepness and loose dirt. A lot of off-camber driving. This part of the drive is breathtaking with great views of the Owens River Valley north and south for miles! From Papoose Flats, there is a smooth section with very little elevation change at about 8000 to 9000 feet, and then a steep descent into Death Valley Road where it is paved into Big Pine. On the way down this paved DVR, there is a sign on an A-Frame facing traffic going towards Death Valley saying "Road Closed". You can't always believe what you read!

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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