If you enjoy fishing, this would be a great weekend trip to start as you trek up the Kern River Canyon. Because you have to cross the Little Kern River, make sure to call the District Rangers office prior to arriving at the trailhead. Depending on the time of year, it may be too dangerous to cross. The trail follows closely to the Kern River for most of the way is approximately 8.3 miles one way from start to finish.
Download the map -> Kern Flat Map
Day 1 – Forks of the Kern Trailhead to Kern Flat
Take Forest Service road 22S82 (Lloyd Meadow Road) north and when you pass the turn off for Preseident George H. Bush tree, look for a road on the right towards Forks of the Kern (Forest Service road 20S67). Drive about 2 miles and the road ends in a parking area. Here the trailhead begins at 5,800 feet.
The trail downhill provides plenty of vista points. The trail zigzags downhill along old basalt flows. Look south down the Kern River canyon and see other basalt flows across the way. Almost a mile down and the trail enters the Golden Trout Wilderness. About another mile 1.3 miles and the trail intersects with the Little Kern River. Cross the Little Kern and the trail continues up the Kern River.
Approximately another 6 miles along the trail will follow the Kern River. The trail stays on the northern side of the river providing views and some access points to fish. Scope out some fishing holes for the trek back. Proceeding up the trail there are small tributaries that should not be a problem to cross, especially in the summer, as most of them are season streams. The end of the 6 mile “canyon” hike will open up into the lower portion of Kern Flat.
Day 2 – Relaxing, fishing, and/or Kern River Bridge
Depending on where you setup camp in Kern Flat, if you continue up the trail another mile or so the trail meets up with the Kern River Bridge. If you want to fish from the furthest area way from your camp and hike back, do not cross the bridge. Instead continue north, along the west side of the river. The trail ends in about 1.5 miles near Ninemile Creek. Crossing the bridge and continuing up river will eventually take you to the Ninemile Creek tributary to Kern River. Stay to the left on trail junctions and you can proceed further up the Kern River toward “The Hazards” where there no longer is a trail due to the narrow Kern River Canyon.
Day 3 – Kern Flat to Forks of the Kern Trailhead
Proceed back the same way you came. Try out some of the fishing holes you may have spotted on the way up. Leave early to make for a longer day of fishing. The only uphill section will be once across the Little Kern River. The uphill is 2.3 miles long.