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Forks of the Kern Trail is a 5.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Springville, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

Length 5.6 mi Elevation gain 1,220 ft Route type Out & Back

Camping

Fishing

Hiking

Nature trips

Paddle sports

Bird watching

Forest

River

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Contact
Getting There

White water kayakers use this trail to bring their kayaks to the put in point on the Kern River. The trail descends roughly 1000 feet with a handful of switchbacks. There are no really steep sections and the descent/climb are pretty gradual with plenty of flatter sections to rest while still gaining ground.

There is plenty of parking in the parking area and there are restrooms.

From Kernville take Sierra Way/ Mountain Route 99 to Johnsondale. At the fork in the road take a right onto Lloyd Meadows Road (22S82). You wil take this road almost all the way to the end which is Jerkey Trailhead Campground. About 2 miled before Jerkey Meadow, take a right onto 20S67 (dirt road but well maintained) Take 20S67 approximately 2 miles to the parking lot at the very end. You will see the trailhead at the eastern end of the parking lot.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (43)
Photos (9)
Recordings (26)
Completed (81)
Darren Utley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 7, 2020
Hiking

The trail is in perfect condition. Both the Little Kern River and the Kern River were flowing big so we couldn’t cross but we were able to follow them south past the confluence. A very beautiful area worth the time.

Rebecca Amaya
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 6, 2020
HikingBugsGreat!Rocky

This river is no joke. The river was flowing pretty fast and it was high when we went in June and it was freezing. We camped at Limestone which I don't really recommend. Lots of mosquitos and military jets flying overhead at camp which sounded like a loud boom every now and then. Kind of terrifying. There is no shade.

Chris Twork
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 16, 2019
Backpacking

The way down is pretty easy, the way up is some work. Great place to go back packing. In the spring and fall the temperature can vary 60° from night to day so bring appropriate gear. In the summer and fall time you can cross the Small Kern.

Joel Hembree
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 5, 2019
HikingBlowdownOver grown
View Joel's Recording
George Macklin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 31, 2019
HikingNo shade

A fairly easy hike on the way in but expect a moderate adventure on the way back out. Shade is fairly minimal throughout the ascent so it's easier to come out in the early morning or later in the day when the sun has less impact. The flow of the Little Kern is slow at this time of the year so the crossing is simple.

Marie Rodriguez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 13, 2019
HikingBugsMuddyNo shade

Hot and arid with little shade in the summer months but the views and river is amazing. If you like camping off the grid and backwoods backpacking, you'll love this trail.

Nadine Alfaro
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 21, 2019

good morning hike !

Angel Houts
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 25, 2019

I'm biased of this beautiful place, and it will always be home!

K G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 15, 2018

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.

Rex Hinkey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 10, 2018

Just wanted to add that Kern River Conservancy and Keepers of the Kern are putting more effort in keeping that part of the river clean. It's disturbing to me that people go to a beautiful place like the Forks and have to leave their trash. we have gotten the river from Kernville to Johnsondale bridge free of trash.

Thomas Martinez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 30, 2017
Fishing

Great trail to get to some wild trout. Not many people fishing this far up the Kern because of its isolated location. Great trout and great backpacking. The hike out is tough. Leave early in the morning or later in the evening. Pack as light as possible.

Andy Kleiner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 17, 2016
Backpacking

Going in is a breeze, but the hike out is a challenge. There are great fishing and swimming holes about 3.6-3.7 miles in along the Kern River. At the forks there are many signs of litter and junk leftover from recent others. We arrive on a Wednesday and hardly saw a soul. Left on Saturday morning and saw heaps of groups, fishers, campers, scouts etc. Definitely will come back.

Bruce P.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 5, 2016
Hiking

Love the trail.

Mike Scott
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 23, 2015
Hiking

Decent trail. Little tough on way out but great trail to continue to kern flat.

Kevin Rogers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 30, 2014

I wish I could give this trail a better review. I have never witnessed a greater cumulative disrespect for a "Wilderness" area in all my life. Trash from decades of misuse can be found everywhere, some more that 30 years old. Human excrement littered the trail, the closest to the trail was 18 inches away. There was evidence of motorcycle traffic on the far side of the river on an old trail system. Multiple groups that exceeded the 15 person limit were encountered. I have backpacked all over the country. I have never seen anything like this in a "Wilderness" area. It almost seems like a mockery to describe it as such. Aside from the negligent human impact, the scenery was great, the rivers are beautiful. It just makes it that much tougher to see the neglect. Pros: Beautiful Scenery, water present, good campsites. Cons: Hot in summer, garbage everywhere.

Jeff Barrett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 2, 2013
Hiking

Was great for a day trip. Good campsites that I saw. Fishing was excellent. I'm going to come back to stay a few nights to explore much more of it.

rick wilson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 3, 2013
Fishing

Good moderate trail. The drive out there can be a pain as it is tucked away. Once you get there though the trail down to the river is not terribly steep but moderate is the perfect rating for it. Lots and lots of bugs, plenty of back country campsites. I didnt see more than 5 or 6 folks the entire weekend. Lots of beaver action in the area so lots of lagoons and marshes to fish. Views were amazing and worth the 5 hour drive from south county. I really like privacy and off the beaten path type stuff so id go again and again and again. The hike back up took about an hour at a medium pace.

John Hampton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 13, 2013
Hiking

This is a pretty easy trail that leads to great fly fishing in the Golden Trout Wilderness. It gets pretty packed in the summer with kayakers, but nothing like some of the other trails I've been on. It can get hot here in the summer, so bring plenty of water!

Chuck Ellsworth
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 20, 2012
Hiking

Like a shorter version of the Grand Canyon. A joy downhill but never forget gravity, because it will never forget you! Do not overload yourself with unnecessary weight. Pretty trail with a nice river as the reward.

Joshua Stuck
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 19, 2012
Hiking

Hiked this trail with some friends, set up camp by the river and had a wonderful time fly fishing. We couldnt of asked for a better fishing spot.

Steve Hylton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 1, 2011
Hiking

This trail is awsome its an easy hike going down to the river it can have quite a few people there but you can get to a place where you can be by yourself if you dont mind doing a little cross country and on a hot day if the river is low enough go for a swim. But coming back up to your vehicle can be a bit strenious as its all up hill

John Buckmaster
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 5, 2010
Hiking
First to Review

This is a beautiful trail from start to finish. I hiked it with a friend in May 2010 and it is not very demanding at all. The trail is easily marked and the descent is fairly gradual with a handful of switchbacks. At the bottom, the confluence of the Little Kern and Kern Rivers was flowing pretty strong. There are many places to relax by the river and enjoy the wildlife. We saw many species of birds and a few small harmless reptiles. We were the only two people down there so it was a really nice place to get away from it all and purely relax. The hike back out was much easier than I anticipated. We did the roughly 2 mile hike and 1000 foot climb out in just under one hour. The hike offers great views of the back side of the Needles and the Kern River Valley. I look forward to doing that hike again!

Mark W.
Gray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking
View Mark's Recording
Bruce Campbell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 31, 2020
OHV/Off Road Driving
View Bruce's Recording
Manuel Preclaro
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 17, 2020
Backpacking
View Manuel's Recording
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