Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,738.00 ft (529.74 m)
Trail type
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Onion Valley to Matlock Lake is a 6-mile out-and-back trail located 15 miles east of Independence, California. Onion Valley Campground is the starting point for this beautiful singletrack trail that leads to several scenic alpine lakes. Whether you're planning an overnight stay or a day hike, this is the perfect getaway. You can easily access the trailhead by car and there is plenty of parking for day use or overnight use. During this trek, you will use the Kearsarge Pass Trail, which provides easy access to Kings Canyon National Park, several alpine lakes, high mountain peaks and the Pacific Crest Trail. This route is popular amongst trail runners, hikers and backpackers.

The Kearsarge Pass Trail winds back and forth from Onion Valley Campground, zigzagging across switchbacks and ascending from the parking area. In about 3 miles, this relatively short, steep climb gains almost 3,000 feet. You will pass Little Pothole Lake and Gilbert Lake as you ascend, both beautiful places to camp. At Flower Lake, you should find a sign for Matlock Lake and a trail junction. This junction is just half a mile from Matlock Lake. 

The trailhead is located at the Onion Valley Campground (9,185 feet), a high elevation campsite with a first come first serve policy. If you do not plan on staying at the campground, there is ample day use and overnight parking for backpackers and hikers. There are bathrooms, trash cans, and bear lockers in the parking lot. As this is an active bear area, it is imperative to store food properly. For more information about food storage please visit


If you are planning to camp at any of the lakes, or any other backcountry camp spot, you must obtain a permit in advance. Information about backcountry permits can be found at

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Alpine Lakes. High mountain peaks.


Can get crowded on the weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

9,166.00 ft (2,793.80 m)

Highest point

10,641.00 ft (3,243.38 m)


Backcountry camping
Near lake or river
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.