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Kern River Area Trip Report (Southern Sierra, CA, USA)
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Shawn Taylor
(staylor310) - F

Locale: Sierra
Kern River Area Trip Report (Southern Sierra, CA, USA) on 03/18/2008 18:16:39 MDT Print View

Overview: 20 mile loop around The Kern River, starting from The Johnsondale Bridge located approx. 20 miles north of Kernville. 2 nights, 2 days. Winter weather expected.

Route: About 4 miles along the eastside of The Kern, then up to the Rincon Trail, down to Durrwood Camp, across The Kern, up to Peppermint Creek, and then back down the Westside of The Kern.

This was a last minute trip that was a replacement for another loop planned in the higher mountains directly to the east of The Kern. My friend Tony (BPL member: Wopster) and I were planning on doing a short trip into some snow conditions in the Kennedy Meadows Area, using a trailhead just a few miles from The Johnsondale Bridge. The weather forecast just kept getting worse, and the fun winter trip started to seem more uncomfortable and dangerous. By Thursday the expected lows at the elevation we would be at were down to -1 deg, and a 70% chance of snow over the weekend. We opted to take another route that only reached about 5500 to 6000 ft elevation.

We got some great winter weather with snow flurries and sunshine on Friday afternoon, rain Friday night, snow and hail Saturday, and some more snow/hail/rain mix on Sunday.

About 2 miles in from bridgeSaturday MorningStorm Clouds

We hiked to the junction of The trail which takes you up to the Rincon Trail Friday evening and camped near the river. Saturday we hiked up to the Rincon Trail and followed it to the junction where an old trail takes you back down to the river at Durrwood Camp.

Durrwood Camp

The trail to Durrwood Camp, from The Rincon Trail was almost inexistent. I don’t think anyone has used this section of trail for many years.

This was a common activity on this section of elusive trail

When we arrived at the cable crossing, we found the car to be tied off on the opposite side of the river. For those of you who are not familiar with The Kern River, it is wide, deep, and swift, especially on this section. It is very difficult to wade across.

Cable Crossing

After debating our options, I volunteered to swim across the river untie the cart and take it back across, where Tony would have a fire waiting for me inside the old cabin. I swam across the river just about 100 yards upstream from the cable car, where the water was much more tame. I tied a dry sack around my waist, which I filled with my insulated clothing, balaclava, etc., to put on when I got to the other side. Everything worked out as planned, and we ate lunch and hung out in the cabin until I warmed back up from my arctic swim. We then crossed the river in the cable car with our packs.

Safely across

From there it was up Peppermint creek to camp for the night. Below is Peppermint falls.

Peppermint Falls

Sunday we headed back towards our starting point, on another hard to follow trail. I’m really glad I brought the GPS on this trip. If we didn’t pay attention for 1 minute, the trail would just disappear on us.

Dry MeadowDry Meadow Creek

Although this trip was not our original plan, it turned out to be a lot of fun.
Thanks for reading-

Edited by staylor310 on 03/18/2008 18:20:20 MDT.

Jeff Cadorin
(JeffCadorin) - F

Locale: paper beats rock
The Kern on 03/18/2008 20:07:30 MDT Print View

Looks like alot of fun. Funny how those things are always tied off on the other side. You guys do any fishing?

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: The Kern on 03/18/2008 20:28:55 MDT Print View

What shelter are you using and how did you like it?

Shawn Taylor
(staylor310) - F

Locale: Sierra
Re: The Kern on 03/19/2008 10:05:57 MDT Print View

no fishing this time. The season is closed for all except the first 4 miles of our trip, which our easily day hiked from the bridge.

Shawn Taylor
(staylor310) - F

Locale: Sierra
Re: Re: The Kern on 03/19/2008 10:07:29 MDT Print View

Balck Diamond Megalight. It makes a great 4 season shelter, although i couldn't see using it with 4 people as it claims to be a 4 person shelter.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Kern River Trip Report on 03/19/2008 11:07:08 MDT Print View

BPL Staff or original poster:

Please fix the formatting of the photos so we don't need to scroll left to right to read the text.


Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Kern River Area Trip Report on 03/19/2008 13:40:10 MDT Print View

Sweet report. I take it you didn't feel like treating the cable like a slackline? :-)

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Yo-yo or Loop? on 03/19/2008 22:27:27 MDT Print View


Thanks for posting this trip. I have been eyeballing the Rincon trail for years but have never gotten around to doing it. I couldn’t follow the trail description. Can you list each leg of the trip.? That swim must have been something. I guess you could sing in the soprano section after that dip.

Conditions look perfect. I did Kennedy Mdws to Monanche Mdws last April and it was bone dry. I mean no water except in the Kern but it looks this year is a different story. Great photos! Thanks again.


Edited by johnk on 03/19/2008 22:29:13 MDT.

Shawn Taylor
(staylor310) - F

Locale: Sierra
Re: Kern River Area Trip Report on 03/20/2008 10:12:35 MDT Print View

No way!

Shawn Taylor
(staylor310) - F

Locale: Sierra
Re: Yo-yo or Loop? on 03/20/2008 10:22:16 MDT Print View

We only did a few miles on the Rincon Trail. I'll PM you my trail map.

I did a trip to Monache last November, and it was dry then too.