Kearsarge Pass Trail is a popular trail with relatively quick access to the JMT. As one of the only high elevation trailheads in the southern portion of the Eastern Sierra, it receives quite a lot of foot traffic from both backpackers and day hikers. Through hikers on the JMT/PCT commonly use the trail to resupply in Independence.
There are a few small lakes and campsites along the trail as it ascends to Kearsarge Pass. More scenic views and camping can be found near Kearsarge Lakes on the western side of Kearsarge Pass. Most notably, Kearsarge Pinnacles and East Vidette stand prominent in this region.
Wilderness permits and bear canisters are required for all overnight travelers.
For the most up to date information on conditions and regulations contact the Inyo Forest Service.
Forest service trail information:
From Hwy 395 in Independence, follow Onion Valley Road east to the trailhead. The trailhead has a large parking area, bear boxes, restrooms, and limited car camping sites.
This is a moderate to tough hike for children due to the steep switchbacks starting right from the parking lot.
4 Months ago, 66, 43 lbs pack. Started in Onion Valley and spent the night at Flower Lake. Over the top to Bullfrog lake, out Whitney. The first day is always difficult, altitude is the culprit. That is why I spend the first night at Flower. The trail is not technically difficult, it it the altitude that will get to you. Once acclimated, then it is not hard, but that takes some time to get there. The lower lakes are wonderful. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Hoofing a 50lb pack for me and my girlfriend. Can be done faster with a lighter load.