Kearsarge Pass Trail


Lake Along Kearsarge Pass Trail

Beginning at Onion Valley Trailhead, the Kearsarge Pass Trail travels through the John Muir Wilderness. The trail climbs through forest and alpine tundra and past several lakes, including Little Pothole, Gilbert, and Flower Lakes on its way to 11,700-foot Kearsarge Pass. The trail continues beyond the pass to join the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon National Park. This is an active bear area. 

For an area map click here...
To purchase more detailed maps or guidebooks of the area, visit

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 4/18/2014 Onion Valley Road is open. Snow on trail.
Reservations: Reserve up to 6 months in advance at
Day use does not require a permit.
Rentals & Guides: Sequoia & Kings Pack Outfit is located at Onion Valley. Phone (800) 962-0775 or (760) 387-2797.
Permit Info: Wilderness permits are required for overnight trips. Day use does not require a permit. Permits are issued at Inyo National Forest visitor centers.
Usage: Heavy
  • Campfires are prohibited.
  • Food and trash must be stored in Bear proof containers June to October.
  • Groups cannot exceed 15 people, this includes day use.
  • Overnight trips have a quota of 60 people per day. Quota is in effect May 1 to Nov. 1.
  • John Muir Wilderness regulations apply.
  • Additional regulations for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Closest Towns: Independence, CA
Water: Water from creeks, lakes, and springs should be treated before drinking.
Restroom: Vault toilet at trailhead. Please Leave No Trace, bury human waste away from water sources.
Information Center: Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center (760) 876-6228
Wilderness permit information (760) 873-2483

General Information


From Highway 395, in Independence, CA, turn west on Market Street. Onion Valley is about 15 miles west of Independence.

The road is usually open from May to November, depending on snow conditions.

General Notes:

Traveling in Bear Country

Historically, there has been a high level of bear activity in the Kearsarge Pass area. From Memorial Day weekend through October 31, all food, food related trash and scented items must be stored in bear-proof containers.

At the trailhead, all food, trash and scented items must be removed from vehicles and stored in the bear proof lockers that are located in parking areas. Dispose of trash in bear proof trash cans.

For more information about traveling in bear bear country, click here...



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