Seeking Information: Backcountry Camping Around Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass?

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compeanja
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Seeking Information: Backcountry Camping Around Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass?

Post by compeanja » Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:20 pm

I'm planning a trip towards the end of June, entering over Kearsarge Pass. I'll likely be arriving at the trailhead sometime around Sunday evening/night. The next day (Monday) I will be hiking on to East Lake. Given that the Onion Valley campground will likely still be closed, I was thinking about hiking in the first few miles Sunday night and pitching camp somewhere.

So the question is: where? Does anyone know of a nice flat spot big enough for two tents in between the Onion Valley trailhead and Kearsarge Pass? Is it even kosher to camp at any of those lakes on the East-side of the pass?

Also, I'm new to the forum so if this is the wrong place to post this question, let me know.








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ShaunDiego99
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Re: Seeking Information: Backcountry Camping Around Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass?

Post by ShaunDiego99 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:41 pm

There are lots of camping options around Gilbert Lake (not far up from the trailhead), many of which are visible from the trial. There are more spots around Flower lake if you don't mind exploring cross-country a bit (but i usually stick to Gilbert Lake - which i find much nicer than the trailhead camp areas - and which sets you up closer to the pass for the next day)

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TurboHike
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Re: Seeking Information: Backcountry Camping Around Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass?

Post by TurboHike » Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:18 pm

compeanja wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:20 pm
I'm planning a trip towards the end of June, entering over Kearsarge Pass. I'll likely be arriving at the trailhead sometime around Sunday evening/night. The next day (Monday) I will be hiking on to East Lake. Given that the Onion Valley campground will likely still be closed, I was thinking about hiking in the first few miles Sunday night and pitching camp somewhere.

So the question is: where? Does anyone know of a nice flat spot big enough for two tents in between the Onion Valley trailhead and Kearsarge Pass? Is it even kosher to camp at any of those lakes on the East-side of the pass?

Also, I'm new to the forum so if this is the wrong place to post this question, let me know.
I suggest Matlock Lake. It's very scenic and much less crowded than Gilbert Lake or Flower Lake. When you get to the outlet stream of Flower Lake, cross the stream and head south-southeast. There is a use trail that goes up and over the ridge, then drops down to Matlock Lake. Lots of flat areas for tents. I camped there two years ago with my son and we were the only people there. Nice views of University Peak. From Flower Lake to Matlock Lake was about 15-20 minutes of hiking. You can see the use trail using a satellite image of the area. Good luck.

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Re: Seeking Information: Backcountry Camping Around Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass?

Post by SSSdave » Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:47 pm

The wilderness boundary is about a half mile beyond the parking lot at the 9400 elevation line. If your permit is for Sunday you have to camp in the destination zone stated on the permit for the first night and subsequently anywhere that trail continues to. If your permit is for Monday, legally you need to either camp below 9400 feet until midnight when you could go higher. A gray area I've done before night hiking late.

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=36.7709 ... =16&b=f16a

If you switch the map mode to satellite, you will see trees at 9280 1/4 mile along where I've noted tent spots in those trees. More obvious in Goggle Earth.

People on this board often ask about where they might find camp spots in the backcountry, however unless one has a large multi-person tent, it is rare to not be able find something usable to plunk down at with a little searching almost everywhere although it might not be as flat as some seem to make a big deal about. Where it gets difficult is about certain metamorphic geology like about Glen Alpine Creek with jagged rock all over or high alpine talus or swampy meadows. I tell one of my brothers who is like that, once a person goes to sleep, they'll never complain haha.

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Re: Seeking Information: Backcountry Camping Around Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass?

Post by schmalz » Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:09 pm

Highly suggest Matlock Lake.
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The KLF
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Re: Seeking Information: Backcountry Camping Around Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass?

Post by The KLF » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:56 pm

As someone who has been lurking here to find the latest information on the OV campground because I have late June reservations for my family (wife & four elementary school kids), I registered because I think something just flipped with it being open and wanted to share.

The Forest Service website still lists it as closed, but the campground listing on Recreation.gov today removed the coronavirus warning on its masthead, and changed the status of the days between June 10th (today) and June 14th from X'd out "unavailable", to FF "first come first served".

To clarify, up until today there was no option to book anything until at least June 15th - the calendar was X'd out to that point as the Forest Service had previously cancelled everything up until June 15th. I've been waiting for the next round of cancellations to see how far out they'd push it, but today they removed the COVID-19 closure statement on the OV Campground page and changed all the unavailable statuses between now and 6/15 to first come first serve.

It might be a technical glitch, but with Inyo county campgrounds opening 6/12 it could be the sign that the Federal campgrounds in the area - specifically Onion Valley - are close to officially reopening and you won't have to change your backcountry plans.

For the sake of comparison, Big Pine Creek campground and Onion Valley campground were in the exact same state up until today. Big Pine Creek still shows as being unavailable to the 15th and has the COVID closure masthead. OV now shows current site availability and the closure banner removed today.

BPC: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/camp ... ailability

OV: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/camp ... ailability

EDIT: Actually, Onion Valley campground now shows reservable sites starting on the 14th. I bet they're opening up.

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