Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
10,791.00 ft (3,289.10 m)
Trail type
35.40 mi (56.97 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.

Shepherd to Kearsarge is a hefty 35.4-mile point-to-point in the Eastern Sierra. As the name suggests, this route connects Shepherd Pass Trailhead to Kearsarge Pass Trailhead at Onion Valley, and requires a shuttle. It can be done in either direction, but will be described here beginning at Shepherd and ending at Kearsarge. Besides utilizing both pass trails, a significant portion of this route is spent along the Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail (PCT/JMT). It is also important to note that there is a lot of bear activity in this area, and bear canisters are highly recommended. 

After dropping a car at Onion Valley, take Foothill Road from Onion Valley Road to the Shepherd Pass Trailhead. There are two trailheads here, one for stock, the other for hikers (the stock trail adds an extra 1.25 miles to the hike). Shepherd Pass Trail begins following Symmes Creek before heading up and over Symmes Creek Saddle. The trail parallels Shepherd Creek before meeting it at Anvil Camp, and again at the Pothole (junction to Junction Pass and southwest route up Mt. Keith). The trail hits Shepherd Pass at about 12,033ft., but note that just before the pass, there is often a brief patch of snow that lasts well into the summer, and requires a good bit of caution. From the pass, the trail descends 4 miles to meet Tyndall Creek and the PCT/JMT. 5 miles on from here, Forester Pass marks the route’s high point (13,160ft.). In heavy snow years, the switchbacking trail is buried, and the hiker will need proper snow gear for safe maneuvering up and over the pass. After Forester Pass, a long, 8-mile descent takes the hiker along the Bubbs Creek drainage, and passes such landmarks as University Peak and the Kearsarge Pinnacles to the east, and East Vidette to the west. There is a large and relatively popular backcountry campground at the trail junction near Lower Vidette Meadow. Our route takes a right at this junction, and climbs steeply to Bullfrog Lake and on to Kearsarge Pass (11,770ft.). The Kearsarge Pass Trail descends to the trailhead at Onion Valley for about 4.5 miles, passing a pleasant series of lakes on the west side of the crest. 

Hikers will pass through the John Muir Wilderness in Inyo National Forest and enter Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Wilderness permits are required for backcountry camping, which can be found at For more information regarding advisories, weather, road conditions, campgrounds and more, check out the Inyo National Forest website at, and the Sequoia-Kings Canyon website at Practice the principles of leave no trace, and take action to defend threatened wilderness areas (

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)


Parking Pass


Open Year-round





Mountain vistas. Mountain lakes. Sierra Nevada.


Becoming popular. Mosquitoes.

Trailhead Elevation

6,317.00 ft (1,925.42 m)

Highest point

13,020.00 ft (3,968.50 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site




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