Friday, November 30, 2007

Backpacking Little Kern to Kern Flat to the Forks

This 26 mile loop made a wonderful 3-day backpack trip in the Golden Trout Wilderness of the Southern Sierra. We hiked from the Jerkey Meadows Creek above Lloyd Meadow Creek to Little Kern River, up and over to Kern Flat, and down the Kern River to the Forks of the Kern.

The graphic above shows the Needles in the middle foreground with the Kern River in the gorge to the right, and the Little Kern Drainage in the middle. The blue line is our backpacking route, with Kern Flat being at the top right. The Forks of the Kern (the put-in for one of the most epic wilderness kayak/rafting runs in the US) is at the lower right of the loop.

Here's the GPX file of the trip.

The first day, we hiked 5 miles up to Jerkey Meadows and down to the Little Kern River. The granite bedrock gorge was filled with wonderful swimming pools and small waterfalls. It also happened to be one of the best fly fishing creeks I've ever been too. I bought a specific Little Kern Fly from Kern River Fly Fishing, and literally caught a beautiful Golden Trout on every cast.

There was no one around, and we set up camp on a secluded pool in comfy pristine sand! Since it was only 5 miles in and a relatively easy hike, we had time to swim, fish, and explore the area.

Because it was late in the season, the water level was low and fairly warm.

There was no need for backpacker food - we ate fresh fish for dinner!

Here's a photo of the Little Kern just below the trailhead.

And another picture taken near our campsite:

On the second day, we hiked up and over a pass on our way to the Kern River. We passed Flat Iron, several meadows and springs, and then made the long descent through the burnt-out Doe Meadow on our way to Kern Flat.

Wildlife tracks were everywhere - there certainly seems to be a healthy supply of bear, coyotes, and deer. The Kern River is absolutely beautiful in this area!

We hiked a little ways south along the river and found a nice campspot near some excellent fishing and swimming holes.

Once again, the fishing was world class with unique Golden-Rainbow hybrids...and they were big!!

We spent most of the 3rd day fishing and hiking all along the river - about a 12.5 mile hike. About 7 miles down, we reached the Forks of the Kern, where the Little Kern meets the North Fork. Here, we passed several day hikers and rafters getting ready for a super low flow 4-day trip down the Kern River to the Johnsondale bridge.

The remaining portion of our trip took us uphill from the Forks, and back to the trailhead. We cant wait to return and explore more of the area. Hiking/climbing down the Little Kern Drainage and kayaking these upper sections of the Kern River are now on our list of things to do!

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