Explore Kernville - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Hard trail straight up the first mile or so... when you get by the creek it is gorgeous. You kinda loose the trail a little with down trees and depending on how much water is in the creek. The cave is small but awesome. We were the only group on the trail. Their is a lot of poison ivy along the trail. And the trail is narrow.

Great quiet trail. Every bend in the river of a fly fisherman's dream. The initial descent and final ascent are not for the faint of heart.

Wouldn’t recommend hiking this trail. Wait till vegetation has grown back. The road up to this trail is pretty bad, full of pot holes and loggers. The trail isn’t high enough to be cool. Also due to a fire most of the trail is very fine and loose dirt. This causes a multitude of problems. 1) as you walk you kick up dust and dirt which not only gets you very dirty but can get in your eyes and make it hard breath. This coupled with the heat is very unpleasant. 2) since there is no vegetation it is nearly impossible to keep on the trail. The trail isn’t used enough to where the trail is outlined enough. When I went up I lost the trail and ended up climbing the largest hill near me. The views there were alright but not worth the trouble.

15 yrs ago, at the age of 53, hiked to this cave with my son. We came in off a trail from Sherman Pass Rd where we parked on a dirt road near Brush Crk. The July hike was moderately easy with 3 passes to go over, and we had our camel packs to keep us hydrated. Seems to me that the trail shown on your map is more strenuous than the trail we took. Saw tracks from mountain lions and wild turkeys. Of course the cave was awesome and well worth the journey.

hiking
23 days ago

A quiet hike to a classic climbing spot. Bring your own water.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing hike, good for weekend warriors to cut their teeth on a trail with varying levels of inclination. Bring lots of water and get ready for 3 hours of amazing hours. Lots of shady spots to take a break - take your time and buckle up for the last quarter mile to lookout gate. Stunning!

hiking
1 month ago

Great little hike for trail running and families. The views are worth the trek throughout. Bring plenty of water.

Pretty awesome hike. Take lots of water and light snacks. Make sure to stop in ponderosa for a beer when you leave! I always go past the gates and get on the top of the hill as well. There is a marker on the top of the hill w amazing views!

Nice hike! We did it about a month ago and despite the altitude it was still quite warm. It took us about three hours, could have been done faster but we stopped quite a lot to let my daughter's dog rest his paws, not for me to catch my breath

This was an awesome hike when it was snowing. There was a huge circle around the hot springs from the heat!!! Always be careful if you jump in the river though!!!

hiking
1 month ago

It’s a glute buster to start, but pretty amazing to change through so many biomes. A head lamp will help for cave exploration and definitely fill your camel pack full of ice because it gets warm!!!!

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing trail. We camped across the street the night before. Started at 630 a.m. The hike up to the top of the main ridge was steep but was in shade the whole way up. The trees and creek were a nice change of scenery. There was a camping spot before the final push up to the cave. It was 100 degrees that day and the trek down was hell. Bring something to replace your electrolytes if you're hiking in the heat. We went through a ton of water. The Kern River offers a nice way to cool off when you're done.

Thus trail is a little strenuous but very impressive. Some steep open hot sections and some creek side shady sections. Scenery very impressive. Easy to get to. .

This cave was awesome! one of the coolest things I have seen on a hike.

We went to this trail that goes right along the river. The maps brings you right to the bridge where you start off. You can go down on either side of the river to swim. Past that, I didn’t bother unless you were planning on going to 7 teacups. If you do plan this in summer, there is barely any shade. Bring lots of water! I brought my pup on this and wouldn’t dare leave her off leash. Bring extra water for the pup too! Very rocky, not very kid friendly. Would deforest rate this as moderate.

hiking
2 months ago

I came across this trail when I saw the cave marked on a map. I definitely had to take this as an opportunity to see the cave! It was worth the trek but be sure to leave early in the morning because it gets hot and there’s not a whole lot of shade. The views are great throughout and when you get by the creek you can really soak up your bandana to keep cool. I took my dog on this trail and he loved it. Be sure to bring lots of water- i drank nearly 3 liters the whole way! Coconut water was a nice thing to carry.

hiking
2 months ago

Short and sweet due to huge views of the high Sierras in the distant east. The old lookout is gone but the stairway acts as its bones, a reminder of a romantic past when hardy rangers would stand watch over our forests. I hiked with my dog and he seemed to enjoy himself. The trail head has a toilet and nearby are some picnic tables and a few level campsites. I saw several children on the trail who were smiling which is always a good sign.

This trail is great for beginners to test their skills and see if hiking is meant for them. The trail is easy to complete but has everything you would see on moderate trails in a short package.

hiking
3 months ago

To find the trailhead, drive down the Needles Road for 3 miles until the road deadends at a campsite, parking lot and outhouse. We thought we were maybe going the wrong way, but yep, just keep driving til you can't drive no more. We made it in a Kia Sorento, but there were sudans there that seemed to have bad the trip just fine.

It took my dad and my small terrier -mix 3 hours to finish the hike, and I think the terrier had the worst of it. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but I might not recommend bringing them, as my dog is still licking his paws four hours later.

The uphill parts were brutal in some places, but the absolutely worst part was the staircase at the end. I'm actually unsure if you're even supposed to go on the staircase - as many people have mentioned, the tower is closed (burnt down) and when you make it to the top of the staircase, the last few steps are missing! I carried my dog up the staircase, got nervous about the height and turned back. but the second set of stairs took my breath away (maybe it was the combo of the altitude, adding another 12 lbs to my weight by carrying the dog, and the stairs that did it). The view was beautiful (although terrifying)!

Saw a rattlesnake on the way back, so pay attention to your surroundings.

Bring lots of water. Flashlight is a must. Walking back is way better than walking there!!

nice trail, the walk back is killer so be prepared. Bring water....lots esp. in summer

hiking
3 months ago

Wowzers! This was extremely difficult for me... the elevation changes really made it even harder, but the constant inclines & declines were killer. Yes, the 1st part is the steepest but it never gets easier... just down to go back up to go back down several times. Absolutely no shade for over half the trail. The creeks were a nice reprieve - we took hand towels & soaked them in the water (likely the only thing that kept us out of medical danger). We had lots of water, but still not enough - we ran out half way back on the return... Don't forget that steep 1st incline is also an incredibly steep decline at the end... this was causing alot of pain on our toes & feet. The cave is definitely neat, but it's a long trek out. There is a geocache there too... If you think you have enough water, get more... double it!

1st bit probably the most challenging. The cave experience was quite rewarding. I would say the trail is a must if you are in the area. Bring a flashlight and water.

Did this hike back in February. It started to snow a bit once we got to the cave but no snow at all on the path.
As mentioned before, the initial climb is steep on goes on for a while. However, I would still rate this hike as moderate, since I feel like I did harder ones that were rated as moderate in this area. It takes a while to get to the actual caves, the hike itself felt like more than 5 miles to me. The caves are quite big and I'd recommend this trail especially for the winter/early spring and late fall time when everything else around this area is snowed in and you're still looking for a somewhat challenging hike.

hiking
4 months ago

backpacking
4 months ago

It was very sketchy on some parts, definitely was not easy. But the view will make you want to go back every time.

hiking
4 months ago

Wonderful hike, went there with my friend today.

The initial climb is challenging, but it plateaus out a bit, crosses a creek three times, and the cave is on the left.

Very cool to see the Native American cave paintings.

A wonderful hike with incredible views. We shared the trail with a mountain lion today, be careful. Also, be prepared for quite the uphill trek.

Awesome hike, ~1.75 hours there, 1 back

This was our first hike, and ay yi yi. I wouldn't choose it for your first, but it is definitely doable. It's pretty much a straight climb for the first mile, at least. It was fun, once we got past the initial climb. You cross a creek probably three times, its pretty. I wouldn't suggest doing this once it gets warm, you're super exposed to the elements, with zero shade. I will say, if you dont read all the reviews before you hike, you will more than likely miss the cave (like the hikers that were about 30 min behind us). Signs are knocked down, pointing in the wrong direction, but the best advise, stay to the left, lol. There are piles of rocks on rocks, stay to the left, or go left if there is a fork. Once you reach "the cave" sign, look up to your left, and behind you some...you will see the cave; it's about .25 miles from that left turn around the large rock. Take a flashlight the cave is big, and dark. It's a fun hike, but strenuous if you're not in shape. It took us 2 and a half hours, there and back. Have fun, happy hiking.

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