Hiking Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass Trail

Onion Valley Trailhead

Take in incredible mountain views of the Sierra Nevada Range. This hike is a great option for an overnight camping trip.

This trail starts at the Onion Valley Trailhead. This trail is in the John Muir Wilderness and ends at Kearsarge Pass, the boundary for Kings Canyon National Park.

The first section of trail takes you up a series of switchbacks before reaching a plateau at Gilbert Lake. From Gilbert Lake the trail flattens out quite a bit and climbs through the forest as you pass Flower Lake, which is a great place for camping if you'll be spending the night. There is a great spot between the trail and Flower Lake that offers nice seclusion and wonderful views from your tent. If you're just doing a day hike, continue on the trail towards Heart Lake.

The section of trail approaching Heart Lake is where the scenery starts to shift to alpine tundra. This is especially noticeable as you continue on to see the beautiful Big Pothole Lake and arrive at Kearsarge Pass. Kearsarge Pass offers some of the best views you kind find in the Sierras, with towering peaks and lakes in every direction.

Pack List

  • Ten Essentials
  • Good trail shoes
  • Trekking poles
If staying overnight:
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Water filter
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RT Distance 8 Miles
Elevation Gain 2660 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Did this hike last week, was amazing! It was beautiful the whole way, met a lot of hikers on the JMT and PCT. I only hiked for two nights. We drove up from Independence on highway 395 to about 9000', hiked up to about 11,800' and slept about 500-1,000' down at Kearsarge Lakes. We saw a lot of people on the trail but had our own little zone at the lakes- there's plenty of space and sleeping areas. Just a note you can have dogs on the first part of the trail but then it crosses over to a nation forest where dogs are not allowed. Enjoy it.


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