Ninemile loop treks along the headwaters and tributaries to Ninemile Creek. Hikers will get to see about half a dozen meadows, headwaters of various tributaries to Ninemile Creek, vistas along the western portion of the Toowa Range, and enjoy Jordan Hot Springs during the middle of the trip. The trip is approximately 21 miles.
Day 1 – Trailhead to Long Canyon Creek (6.3 miles)
The trail begins at Blackrock Trailhead on the Sequoia National Forest. A nice parking area is available to leave a vehicle at the end of Forest Service road 21S03. Once on the trail hike for about 300 yards to the Golden Trout Wilderness boundary sign. Here the trail not only enters into the wilderness but crosses into the Inyo National Forest. Continue down the trail for about 2 miles. The trail comes to a junction on the western side of Casa Vieja Meadows.
Take a right at the junction (east) and continue along the northern portion of the meadow. Shortly after leaving the first trail junction another one is encountered. Stay to the right as the trail will continue to head eastward and through the upper edges of Casa Vieja Meadow. About a half a mile the trail splits. Stay to the left and continue hiking along for another 2 miles to a trail junction. Around 1.5 miles the trail will go through Big Dry Meadow.
Head north (left) at the trail junction towards Long Canyon. The next trail junction is approximately 1.8 miles away. The trail does a gradual uphill climb for the first portion of the trail and the other half is downhill. The day ends at the trail junction near the base of Long Canyon.
Optional: If time is a concern or one wants to make day 1 shorter, head north in Casa Vieja Meadows at the second trail junction. Go 2.3 miles and follow Lost Canyon Creek to the campsite for day 1. It will save 1 mile.
Day 2 – Long Canyon Creek to Jordan Hot Springs (9.5 miles)
The second day is the longest day of the trip. However, the first half is a gradual up and down contour trek to Redrock Meadows. The remaining half is all downhill towards Jordan Hot Springs, where users can soak in the hot springs and relax.
Start the day early and head west from the trail junction (left). The trail goes downhill alongside Long Canyon Creek. About a half a mile down take a right at the trail junction (north-northeast). The trail follows an unnamed tributary to Long Canyon Creek for about a half a mile. Then the trail turns left (west) contouring along finger-like ridges of the Toowa Range. Bear Keg Meadow is about a half a mile from this point along the trail.
Once at Bear Keg Meadow the trail continues for another 3.2 miles to Redrock Meadows and Indian Head, a natural rock formation to the south of Redrock Meadows. The trail crosses a few streams and several springs. However, Long Stringer Creek and River Spring may be the best sources of water depending on the time of year.
The trail splits in into three trails in Redrock Meadows. To the left (west) is the trail to Jordan Hot Springs. The middle unmaintained trail (northwest) goes over West Stringer Saddle near Three Rocks and Kern Peak. The northern trail (right) will trek over an unnamed pass and down into Templeton Cow Camp and Meadows. Make sure to stay to the left as the trail cuts through the meadow, treks near Indian Head, and makes its way down Redrock Creek towards Jordan Hot Springs. Water should be plentiful as the trail follows Redrock Creek for about 4.7 miles. Make camp in the sandy area just north of the hot springs.
Day 3 – Jordan Hot Springs to Trailhead (5.2 miles)
The trek back to the trailhead is all uphill. Needing to refill ones water supply should not be a problem as the trail follows Ninemile Creek to Casa Vieja Meadows and an unnamed tributary to the trailhead. The harder part is in the beginning as the trail leaves the hot springs and treks up Ninemile Creek for about 3.2 miles. There are a few creek crossings and nice views of the canyon. Stringer meadows are seen as the trail crosses through several of them. Watch out for yellow jackets though!
Once at Casa Vieja Meadows, take a right (south) heading along the southern edge of the meadow. The trail continues uphill for another 2 miles, but it isn’t nearly as steep as the previous 3.2 miles. A gradual steady climb takes the hiker back to the trailhead.