The scenic hike to Kearsarge Pass (11,823-ft.) travels by five shimmering lakes and features great views of the rugged crags and peaks along the east side of the Sierra Crest. From the pass breathtaking views encompass the Kearsarge Lakes, the Kearsarge Pinnacles and the Kings-Kern Divide. (full description)
This popular trail climbs to a high pass on the Sierra Crest with stunning views of the Kearsarge Pinnacles, Kearsage Lakes, Bull Frog Lake and the King-Kern Divide to the west. University Peak (13,589-ft.) and the jagged ridge running south along the Sierra Crest form the scenic backdrop to the cobalt blue Big Pothole Lake, sitting is a deep bowl beneath the pass to the east.
Five scenic lakes, Little Pothole, Gilbert, Flower, Heart and Big Pothole Lakes, and fine views of the rugged peaks and jagged ridges ringing the valley help take your mind off the stiff climb, which at times seems to like an endless series of switchbacks. Much of the hike is along open, exposed slopes that can get quite hot in the mid-day sun. I advise getting an early start to avoid the worst heat of the day.
For backpackers, the pass offers excellent access to the scenic backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park and connects with the John Muir Trail. Favorite overnight destinations to the west of the pass include the Kearsarge Lakes and Rae Lakes. Please keep in mind that this is a popular trailhead with a limited number of backcountry permits. It is best to reserve a permit as early as possible.