OverviewFine looking peak that sees relatively few visitors. Fantastic views from the summit of Mount Keith, Junction Peak, Mount Willamson, and Mount Tyndall to the South, University Peak to the North and the High Sierra of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks as well as the Center Basin to the West.
The few visitors to this mountain can partly be explained by more prestigious and higher mountains in its vicinity (Junction, Keith and University) and partly by an approach requiring some elevation loss.
Getting ThereThe main trailhead is the Onion Valley Trailhead, which can be reached by driving 13 miles west on the Onion Valley Road from Independence until the road ends. From the Onion Valley trailhead take the Robinson Lakes Trailhead. This is the most direct approach to the Center Basin and leads over University Pass at 12,640 feet. From Robinson Lake, head west up the creek and aim at the lowest point between University Peak (to the North) and the unnamed peak 12,910 (to the South). A steep gully that is often filled with snow until later in the summer leads up to University Pass. Now head South and try to stay as high up on the slopes as feels comfortable in order to avoid elevation loss. Pass the Center Basin Crags and head up the talus chute that leads directly up to saddle between the two summits of Bradley (Class 2). The northern summit is the high point.
Another much longer way to enter the Center Basin is via Keasarge Pass. From the Pass descend until the trail converges with the Pacific Crest Trail near Bullfrog Lake. Follow the PCT until you get to an intersection just north of Center Peak. The PCT continues to the right, but the old John Muir Trail continues to the left. From this intersection it is another 2 miles before heading east up the slope of Bradley.
A third approach (with the most elevation gain of almost 7,500 feet is the Pinyon Creek trail. The trailhead is located 4.7 miles from Independence, Pinyon Creek Road leaves Onion Valley Road and heads southwest. After 0.2 miles turn right at the fork and right again at another fork 0.7 miles later. Continue another 0.3 miles where the road ends next to Pinyon Creek.
From the trailhead, follow the use trail that ascends on the north side of the stream and follow it to the basin north of Mount Bradley. From here, follow the north slope (Class 2) up to the summit.
Red TapeFor dayhikes, no permit or fee is required. A wilderness permit is required for overnight stays in the John Muir Wilderness in Inyo National Forest or Kings Canyon National Park. You only need to obtain a wilderness permit for your entry point. For example, if you enter in Inyo National forest, you do not need to obtain an additional permit for Kings Canyon National Park. Thus, only one permit is needed per trip.
For entry through Inyo National Forest, wilderness permits may be obtained at the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station, located in Lone Pine, California. Permits can also be reserved in advance, which is recommended since many trailheads, including the Onion Valley Trailhead, are subject to use quotas and are filled many months in advance. Permits may be reserved for a fee of $5/person. Information on Inyo National Forest permit reservations is available online or by phone at (760) 876-6200.
A less popular and longer option is to enter from the Westside of the Sierra at Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. Kings Canyon National Park Wilderness Permits may be reserved in advance for a fee of $15/party. Information on permit reservations is available online or call (559) 565-3341.
Bear canisters are required in this area of Kings Canyon National Park and Inyo National Forest and can be rented at the ranger station. They can also be purchased for a reasonable price at the Whitney Portal Store in Lone Pine and at the Whitney Portal. This part of the Sierra is known for its active black bear population. On the Whitney Portal also consult the message board with excellent information and updates on trail conditions etc. for many peaks and entry points up and down the eastern Sierra.
CampingThere is a campground at the trailhead in Onion Valley for car camping. Kearsarge Lakes to the west of Kearsarge Pass and Matlock Lake to the east are great backcountry camping areas. Inyo National Forest provides information on campgrounds.
For campsites, follow this links to the National Recreation Reservation Center or call them at 1-877-444-6777. Remember, that the Onion Valley is a popular destination and therefore reservations should be made well in advance.
Conditions, weather, etcMountain Conditions
Kings Canyon National Park: (559) 565-3341
Inyo National Forest visitor information: (760) 876-6200
Updated weather information for Independence is also available.
For weather information the Kings Canyon National Park go to this link.
Check here for snow levels in the Eastern Sierra.