Packsaddle Cave Trail is a 5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near California Hot Springs, California that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and running and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length5.0 miElevation gain1,706 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingRunningCaveDog friendlyForestRiverViewsWildlifeOver grown
Description
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Getting There

This hike begins about 16 miles north of Kernville on Mtn. 99 just north of the Fairview Campground. The trail climbs three miles to the cave. Bring a flashlight to explore the cave to see the remaining stalactites and stalagmites. You will gain elevation fairly constantly with a 900 ft gain to cross the ridge/saddle. Along this incline, you can see deer brush, manzanita, live oak, digger pine and sagebrush. The trail dips down to the creek, crossing it about three times. Inside the cave there are stalactites and stalagmites so bring a flashlight!

Park west side of road, just north of the Fairview Campground. Trailhead on East side of road.

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

Note: Be wary of poison oak as they are abundant on the trail.

Directions from Kernville: Travel 16 miles north on Mtn. 99. Park west side of road, just north of the Fairview Campground. Trailhead on East side of road.

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Reviews (259)
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Activities (156)
Completed (456)
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Bryan Collins
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 29, 2021
HikingGreat!

Excellent trail, and the cave is indeed pretty epic. The trail can be a bit hard to follow at times when you reach the main creek crossing. Be sure to turn right (continuing east) after the creek crossing instead of turning left. Also highly recommend long pants and sleeves due to encroaching bushes into the trail. Hiked on March 28th and all the snow and ice has melted. Temperatures were nearing 75 degrees and the sun felt pretty intense. 10/10, would hike again.

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John Douglas
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WalkingBugsGreat!Rocky
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Mike Clark
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HikingIcy

This area was burned off completely a few years ago by the McNally Fire, but you wouldn't know it now. This is a great hike, and it is nice to know that it has completely recovered from that devastating fire.

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Kari Roben
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 12, 2021
HikingGreat!IcySnow
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Tracie MacGregor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 12, 2021
HikingIcySnow
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Elise East
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 12, 2021
Hiking

Amazing trail....the cave is AWESOME!!! A must see!!!!! Tons of elevation and beautiful scenery. I would totally do it again!

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Stefanie Abaher
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HikingIcy

Challenging trail with lots of changes in trail condition. The cave at the end is by far worth the trek!

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Jean Patrick Francoisse
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Hiking
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Mary Mack
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Hiking

Mostly uphill, so it was a good work out! Part of the path is still icy, so I did regret not bringing my crampons...slowed me down a bit. The cave is amazing and definitely worth exploring! I would go back with a better flashlight or headlamp since my iPhone light wasn’t cutting it

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Christine Sullivan
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HikingIcy

Beautiful hike, icy snow in shaded sections. Bring poles at the very least, but micro-spikes would have been nice

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Lillie Rickett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 24, 2021
HikingGreat!

great trail! first 1.5-2 miles is about a 1000k climb (or more!). If you are hiking to the cave, you will hit a creek and you need to go RIGHT at the creek. There is another trail that will take you left. The LEFT trail lead us 1 mile up the wrong mountain into unfriendly hiking ground. The cave is fantastic! bring flashlights to explore. No animals in cave when I went.

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Scott Hieatt
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Hiking

Very hard beginning, the rest is amazing

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Jim Hunter
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Hiking

Great hike with a couple long elevation climbs. Trail is well maintained but did get a little challenging about 2 miles in through a boggy section. There were several technical icy section on the trail but then again we hike it on 3 January 2021. The cave was well worth the hike.

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Richard Morosa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 5, 2020
Hiking

The trail was great - water features along the creek and well maintained - the cave itself was fun exploring - I would highly recommend this hike to anyone that loves exploring caves!

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Brian Langley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2020
Hiking

Incredible cave. First mile is killer, over 900 ft straight up. The cave is worth it. A headlamp or light source is a must.

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Lance Breilein
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 5, 2020

Hahahahaha Went on this trail a couple weeks ago for the first time !! First hour or so was a bit tough for me being out shape !! Hahahahaha !! Great trail nice cave too !!

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Amber Williams-Pyle
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Hiking
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Andrew Ante
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Hiking

Great time. Gotta leave early in the summer it can get hot but goodtimes.

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Kevin Morrissey
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HikingBugsNo shadeOver grownRocky
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Brian Norton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 24, 2020
Hiking

This is a great hike to the caves. It is pretty tough. Bring plenty of cold water during the summer, cover up with sunscreen and a long sleeve shirt and pants. The overgrowth of the bushes can stretch you up pretty good. A machete works well. The caves are amazing, don’t leave your food unattended, the rats got my nuts. It took us about 4.5 hours to complete and we scouted out the cave for quite some time. Take a nice bright headlamp and camera. Have fun.

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Pavelh Trych
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 20, 2020
HikingNo shadeRocky

Not 2.5 miles. About 3. Starting Hard about 1.2 miles uphill. After about 2 miles small creek with fresh, cold water. Bring extra water. Amazing cave !!! Hard hike but worth it. Our kids 5 and 8 did it !!!!

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