Onion Valley to Symmes Creek Backpacking

Independence, California

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If you love treeline country, this is the trip for you! With most of its length near or above treeline, on this backpack you cover a vast alpine landscape of lofty passes; high basins full of beautiful, icy lakes; remote and rugged peaks on the Sierra crest (so near you may be tempted to bag a few); Spartan but viewful campsites; and mountain panoramas that seem to stretch a hundred miles. And talk about opportunities for dayhiking on layover days! You’ll definitely want some in order to explore farther afield. If you have but one layover day, plan at least one at the 11,400-foot lake on the edge of the remote plateau beneath the Kings-Kern Divide, which holds dozens of lakes and ponds composing the headwaters of the Kern River. Other layover days would let you see Center Basin (lightly visited since it was bypassed by the John Muir Trail), and lovely Wallace and Wales lakes in the drainage just south of Wright Lakes. Part of this route as described is easy to moderate cross-country, but see Variations below if you prefer to stay on trail.

Onion Valley to Symmes Creek (Backpacking) Professional Review and Guide

"If you love treeline country, this is the trip for you! With most of its length near or above treeline, on this backpack you cover a vast alpine landscape of lofty passes; high basins full of beautiful, icy lakes; remote and rugged peaks on the Sierra crest (so near you may be tempted to bag a few); Spartan but viewful campsites; and mountain panoramas that seem to stretch a hundred miles. And talk about opportunities for dayhiking on layover days! You’ll definitely want some in order to explore farther afield. If you have but one layover day, plan at least one at the 11,400-foot lake on the edge of the remote plateau beneath the Kings-Kern Divide, which holds dozens of lakes and ponds composing the headwaters of the Kern River. Other layover days would let you see Center Basin (lightly visited since it was bypassed by the John Muir Trail), and lovely Wallace and Wales lakes in the drainage just south of Wright Lakes. Part of this route as described is easy to moderate cross-country, but see Variations below if you prefer to stay on trail."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Independence
Distance: 40.5
Elevation Gain: 7,921 feet
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: 8-14 days
Season: Best late summer through early fall
Local Contacts: Inyo National Forest - permit required
Local Maps: USGS 7.5-min Kearsarge Peak, Mt. Clarence King, Mt. Brewer, Mt. Williamson
Driving Directions: Directions to Onion Valley to Symmes Creek (Backpacking)

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May 2018