Kearsarge Pass Trail

Lake Along Kearsarge Pass Trail

Beginning at the end of Onion Valley Road, 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. It is 4 miles to the top of 11,700-foot Kearsarge Pass. Beyond the pass, the trail continues into Kings Canyon National Park, where it joins the John Muir Trail near Bullfrog Lake. From the trailhead at Onion Valley to the John Muir Trail junction is 6.5 miles.

Common Destinations: Kearsarge Pass, Kearsarge Lake, John Muir Trail

Download area map for trail names

Kearsarge Pass Trail Recreation Guide (pdf)

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Weather
Reservations: Reserve up to 6 months in advance at
Permit Info:
  • Wilderness permit required year round for overnight trips.
  • Day use does not require a permit.
  • May 1 through November 1 overnight visitors limited to 60 people per day.
Closest Towns:
  • Independence, CA (gas, food, lodging)
  • Lone Pine or Bishop (full service, hospital)
Water: Water from creeks, lakes, and springs should be treated before drinking.
Restroom: Vault toilet at trailhead. Along trails, bury human waste away from water sources.
Information Center:

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.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking


Difficulty Level: Moderate

Horse Riding

Best Season: July - October
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
8 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
9,600 ft. - 11,700 ft.