Kennedy Lake Trail

MODERATE 27 reviews

Kennedy Lake Trail is a 10.5 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, fishing, and horses and is best used from July until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

10.5 miles
3,818 feet
Point to Point

dog friendly



horseback riding






wild flowers



2 months ago

This hike is gorgeous, but the reviews and distance on here are a tad misleading. We started at the trailhead parking lot which is 1/4 mile from the general store. From the general store it is around 1.5 miles to the actual trailhead past the campground. From the trailhead it is around 7.5 miles to Kennedy Lake. Round trip to the lake from the trailhead parking lot was a little over 18 miles.
As far as terrain, around mile 2 there is some steep hiking (not too bad) but after that it levels out. It is mostly sand you’re walking on past that point due to the horses breaking down the trail. The last few miles are through meadows so there is some wetland you’re walking through. As you approach the old log cabin the trail forks; I recommend going left if you’re going to the lake and not the camp area. The trail is a little dryer and easier to follow to the lake. If you’re setting up camp then go right and you’ll see all the tents (you must cross the creek to get to camp, but you do not have to if you’re going to the lake). Also, there isn’t much shade next to the lake unless you walk around the the far side.
All in all a gorgeous hike, but it’s quite a long hike for just a day. Recommend bringing a filter for the water, it’s nice and cold and refreshing! Would be a beautiful place to camp and spend the weekend, can’t beat the views!

10 months ago

Not really sure why this says 10 miles, the map that I have marks it a little over 6 miles to the lake.
This was definitely a beautiful adventure! My friend and I chose this trail for our first backpacking trip and besides us not being correctly prepared, this was the perfect choice!
We started at 1030 and didn't make camp till 1700! Those backpacks really slow you down! The last mile, we walked through ankle deep mud and thought it was never going to end! Luckily, we made it, made camp, froze, and ended up having to share a tent. Thank goodness we brought emergency blankets haha.
Because of a miserable night of sleep/freezing, we cut our trip short and headed back at 0900 and made it to the car at 1500. We found a much easier way back through the marsh, just hike higher up, farther away from the water. ALSO, the ground was pretty frozen, so that definitely helped.
It was an amazing experience and am currently on the hunt for a better, warmer sleeping bag, so I can do it again soon!
Oh, the trail was pretty dead, but make sure to wear bright colors, there were lots of hunters for deer season.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

prepared to get muddy in the last mile to the lake. everything else was amazing.

Monday, August 21, 2017

I've hiked the relief reservoir a few times, this is definitely a step up. Hike took about 4 hours each way. Was hoping to do some afternoon scrambling but was hit with 5 hours of thunderstorms this weekend! Bring a book, deck of cards, and a waterproof tent just in case the sierras decide to give you a light show!

No mosquitos! Dropped down to mid 40's at night.

Friday, August 18, 2017

One of the most beautiful and picturesque hikes of my life. Highly recommend. But if you want any semblance of solitude, do not go on a weekend. Once Sunday night hit, it was quiet again...minus the horses.

Friday, August 11, 2017

There is more elevation change than you realize as you hike in. The trail as you get near the lake gets quite swampy due to the snow that is still melting. Well worth the trouble though!

Friday, July 21, 2017

A very beautiful hike. Did this in 103 degrees weather. Incredible views and the water was spectacular! Did the hike starting at 12pm and arrived back at 8:30pm. Would recommend a nights stay if you really want to enjoy the whole experience. But it was well worth it. Just make sure you are ready for the heat (if hot out) and bring a filter if you want to drink the cold stream water. The last mile is boggy so wear WATERPROOF SHOES. And btw this is more of a hard hike than moderate. Although the terrain levels out at the latter portion, you do get very tired.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The most beautiful hike I have done in California so far - I felt like I was in the scenery of Howls Moving Castle (movie). It starts off awesome and the whole way to the lake just keeps getting better and better.

Things I learned:
- I would give the hike in to the lake about a day because it's mostly uphill and relatively high elevation
- There are awesome parking lot campsites self serve for $10. (Wish I got there the night before and stayed at the trailhead)
- There are some beautiful campsites along Kennedy creek
- Ranger said there is a bear in the area, it is small and has not yet come to associate people with food


Thursday, June 08, 2017

6/4/17 We backpacked in from the resort traikhead and camped next to the relief reservoir. From our campsite it was approximately 14 miles round trip to the back of Kennedy Lake. It was a long day hike with about 800 feet of climbing. The trail had patches of snow in the thicker wooded areas. The grounds of the meadows as you approach Kennedy Lake were very boggy and muddy (choose your footwear wisely). You could see the constant run off from the mountains draining into the lake. We didnt have any trouble finding water because of the wet winter. We were out there on a beautiful, sunny day and took amazing pictures. The natural beauty of the area is worth the trek. I recommend this trail to anyone.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Pretty tough hike up the mountain but worth the work. Small patches of snow in shady spots and lots of full, fresh, snow melt streams everywhere. Spent the night about a mile shy of the lake. Gorgeous views.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Great hike but the additional snow made it difficult to get to the lake. The last mile or so took us almost two hours to finally reach the lake. It was beautiful when we did though. I would recommend hiking after the snow has melted as we hiked late May and there was still quite a lot of snow. We camped about halfway up the mountain. Bring a bear canister.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Fun place to camp out for a night or two. I thought it was a tough hike. Can't wait to see the lake and Creek this year after so much rain and snow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Start off at Kennedy Meadows Resort and take a nice stroll through some beautiful country. Someone said there is no water but the trail pretty much follows the river and we never had an issue. The hike to Kennedy Lake is roughly 7 miles and relatively easy going once you get past the first 2 or so miles. Also this trail is open usually in May and only closes when they close Hwy 108 at Strawberry around November depending on the weather. This trek looks to go a good ways past the lake to the PCT.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A beautiful trek through granite cliffs and grassy meadows. We hiked in from the car park but realized on the way back out we could have saved a few miles of hiking with packs by dropping them at the bottom of the trail and walking in to them. The hike was a bit strenuous due to the rarefied air but was not too harsh. One note, there is NO water after you start the climb until you reach the top so bring extra with you. A couple of full fuel bottles should be enough. It was in the 90's when we hiked so we were consuming lots.

We camped about halfway between the Sharon lake cutoff and Kennedy lake. The creek lulled us to sleep at night. We didn't see any wildlife other than birds but something set my dog off early morning the second day. We went back into the tent until the sun came up. We were able to day hike to both without lugging all out gear. We went midweek/mid September so the trails were empty and we didn't see a soul until we hiked out on Friday.

This trail is dog-friendly but make sure that you bring booties and beware of those who don't understand leash laws. We ran into quite a few dogs off leash who have questionable greeting manners.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Awesome scenery, decently difficult, but definitely worth it! The fishing was great as well!

Monday, June 29, 2015


Sunday, July 22, 2012

This is a moderately challenging trail mainly because of its length. We heard estimates of 14-18 miles for the out-and-back hike. The shorter mileage gets you just short of the lake, but then you don't have to deal with the boggy marsh as you approach the lake. We are purists and hiked clear to the lake. It was a fairly dry winter, so the marsh was not boggy at all. We brought sandals in case but were able to stay in our hiking boots & never even got wet socks! Spent an hour on the rocks at the lake munching lunch and dipping in the cool water. Then back down the dusty trail (shared with horses). Made it just in time for our dinner reservation at Kennedy Meadow Resort. Hike was about 11.5 hrs, a little long for a day hike. Next time we'll camp.

27 days ago

2 months ago

3 months ago

3 months ago

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

recorded Kennedy Lake

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Monday, January 09, 2017

Saturday, July 07, 2012