Independence, Inyo County, California

Onion Valley Trails

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Onion Valley Trails
lnyo National Forest

Kearsarge Pass Trail:

Once an Indian trading route, the Kearsarge Pass Trail provides access to a beautiful High Sierra lake basin in the John Muir Wilderness and the spectacular backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park. Rough trails lead to the high bowls containing Robinson Lake and the Golden Trout Lakes.

Area Freehand Drawn Map

Trailhead Location:

Onion Valley is 15 miles west of Independence.  Turn west to Onion Valley on Market Street in downtown Independence.  The road is usually open from May to November.

Trail Difficulty:

The Kearsarge Pass Trail is strenuous.  The Robinson and Golden Trout Lakes trails infrequently maintained and are strenuous.


Summer days may be quite warm but night temperatures often drop to freezing or below. Afternoon thunderstorms are common and snowstorms may occur at any time.  Bring appropriate clothing and equipment.


Potable water is available at the trailhead, and creeks and lakes are accessible along the trail up to Flower Lake.  The presence of Giardiasis in backcountry water poses a serious health problem; boil or filter all drinking water.


The Forest Service’s John Muir Wilderness & Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness” topographic map set (15 min.) is available from the Ranger Station.  Also see the USGS topo map entitled Kearsarge Peak” (7.5 mm.).

Trailhead Facilities:

Forest Service Campgrounds – Onion Valley 29 unit family campground (next to trailhead).  Metal food lockers at campsites.  Usually open May-September.

Lower and Upper Grays Meadow: 6 miles west of Independence on Onion Valley Road.  52 unit campground. Open March-October.

Pack Station:

Sequoia Kings Pack Trains: east side entries Into Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park.  (760) 387-2797.

Onion Valley Ares Regulations:  Violations are subject to citation.


A wilderness permit is required for all overnight hikes.  Permits are available at the Ranger Stations In Lone Pine and Bishop.


Proper food storage In BEAR territory Is required by federal law.  Portable, bear-resistant toad canisters are required when camping east of Kearsarge Pass. Food storage lockers are available over the Pass in the Park.


Campfires are not permitted east of the Sierra crest or above the 10,000 ft. level in adjacent Kings Canyon National Park.  Portable gas stoves are recommended.


Camp at least 100 ft. from steams.  Camping closer than 25 ft. to water is strictly prohibited.  Bury human waste at least 100 ft. from camp and water, and pack out your toilet paper.


There is a one night camping limit at Kearsarge Lakes, Charlotte Lake, and Rae Lakes.


Trail switchbacks are expensive to construct and maintain.  Shortcutting them causes erosion and can be dangerous.


Yield the right-of-way to pack and saddle stock.


Pets are not allowed in the National Parks.


A California State Fishing License is required for fishing.  All state fishing regulations apply.


Discharging firearms In the John Muir Wilderness is not permitted except for taking of wildlife as allowed by state law.  Possession of firearms is prohibited in the National Parks


Other regulations may apply to certain areas you visit.  Please plan ahead and prepare.

For More Information

Every visitor shares the responsibility to preserve and protect the wilderness for today and forever.  For more information on Leave No Trace minimum impact camping, wilderness regulations, or current conditions on the trail, write or call the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station at PC Box 8, Lone Pine, CA 93545, (760) 876-6200.

The source of this information is National Park Flyer: KPass 2/97/jtb

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Last modified: March 10, 2008

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