Center Peak is an often overlooked peak in Kings Canyon National Park. Its location in Center Basin gives it easy access from the John Muir Trail and gives its summit great views of the region. It offers a variety of routes varying in difficulty.
While it is considerably shorter than many nearby peaks, it is still a worthwhile climb. Because of its location directly in the middle of the basin, away from all other peaks, it appears massive from its base. The rugged north face towers over Golden Bear Lake, making for a scenic camping area. From the summit you are surrounded by massive peaks, making for a fantastic view.
The shortest route to the peak is from the Onion Valley Trailhead. From Highway 395 in Independence turn onto Onion Valley Road and travel approximately 14 miles to the road's end. Follow the trail to Robinson Lake. From there you must travel cross country up the canyon and over the class 2 University Pass. From the top of the pass, Center Peak comes into view and is only a couple miles away. Use caution when descending University Pass; the west side is very steep and loose.
If you wish to remain on trail, you can take the Kearsarge Lakes Trail from the same trailhead. It connects with John Muir Trail which runs only about a half a mile of easy walking away from Center Peak. The trail is easy to follow and fairly gentle. There are several good places to camp from Kearsarge Lakes to anywhere in Center Basin.
|Route ||Difficulty* ||First Ascent |
|East Face ||Class 2 ||1898 by C.G. Bradley |
|North Face ||Class 3 ||1934 by David Brower and Hervey Voge|| |
|Northwest Face||Class 3 ||1952 by Phillip Berry and Frank Tarver|
|Northwest Arête ||III, 5.6 ||1983 by Vern Clevenger and Claude Fiddler |
|Northwest Ridge ||II, 5.7 ||1997 by Dave Harden, Don Palmer, and Bart O'Brien |
*The summit block is class 4.
Wilderness permits are required for an overnight trip in the area. You only need a permit for the area from which your trip begins.
For the Onion Valley Trailhead, go here
For a trailhead in Kings Canyon National Park, go here
Bear canisters are required in the area. Containers are located at Kearsarge Lakes and some points within Center Basin. Also check fire restrictions, as they can change depending on the conditions and time of year. Generally, there are no fires above 10,000 feet. There is no camping at Bullfrog Lake and a two night limit at Kearsarge Lakes. Of course there is a small fee for a permit, from $5-$15 per person depending on where you enter.
When To Climb
The peak is generally climbable July-October depending on past snowfall. To get a feel for snow levels look here
. Always check conditions before heading out.
There is a campground at the Onion Valley Trailhead. Information about all Onion Valley Campground and other Inyo National Forest Campgrounds can be found here
Kings Canyon National Parks campground info can be found here
Mountain ConditionsInyo National Forest Conditions
Kings Canyon Weather Forecast