Sierra Nevada - Kennedy Meadows-South Fork Kern River

Kennedy Meadows area in the southern Sierra offers a starting point for several backpack trips. I first visited the area with Explorer Post 360 over Memorial Weekend 1969 and again in August 1971. Those trips will be covered elsewhere.

This trip on November 4-5, 1972 with Don Deck, Kevin Twohey, Lawrence O'Leary, George Brady, Brian Twohey and Paul Robotta started from Kennedy Meadow campground in light intermittent snowfall with intent of going to Deer Mountain and Dutch John Flat. Much of the first day's route would be designated as part of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail which was created in 1968.

In about 7 miles with a climb of about 1900 feet we got to the "pass" and the trail junction at 8088' (high point of the trip). It was snowing heavily and most of the group wasn't prepared for the wind so we changed our plans and stayed lower and headed toward Beck Meadow at about 7860'.

The storm cleared so we continued on to the southern end of Monache Meadows at about 7870' and camped near the South Fork Kern River which is now part of the South Fork Kern Wild And Scenic River. Day's hike was about 12 easy miles.

The next day (after a 3 degree night and an inch of ice on the river) we followed the river south and east to a trail junction at about 7750'. We continued over a ridge at 7900' and arrived at Dutch John Flat (7600') for lunch.

We then took the high trail (aka Wildrose Trail) east of the river which took us about eleven miles to the road about two miles south of the campground and car. George and I hiked the last mile or so in the dark, while Kevin, who made the road in faster time, hiked up and got the car. Kevin hiked about 18 miles for the day to total 30 miles. The rest of us hiked about 16 miles for the day to total 28 miles. Nice scenery but too long a hike for two days.

Most of this route is now in the South Sierra Wilderness created in 1984. Additional information here.

Kennedy Meadows-South Fork Kern River Loop Route Map

Kennedy Meadows-South Fork Kern River Loop Route Profile
South Fork Kern River above Kennedy Meadow
South Fork Kern River above Kennedy Meadow
'Ford' two miles above Kennedy Meadow on South Fork Kern River
'Ford' two miles above Kennedy Meadow on South Fork Kern River

Catchup stop on trail from Kennedy Meadow to Clover Meadow at Crag Creek
Catchup stop on trail from Kennedy Meadow to Clover Meadow at Crag Creek
Crag Creek
Crag Creek

Lower Clover Meadow
Lower Clover Meadow
Lower Clover Meadow
Lower Clover Meadow

Clover Meadow
Clover Meadow
On 'pass' Crag Creek to Beck Meadow
On 'pass' Crag Creek to Beck Meadow

Upper Beck Meadow
Upper Beck Meadow
Looking south up Beck Meadow to Crag Peak and the 'pass'
Looking south up Beck Meadow to Crag Peak and the 'pass'

Olancha Peak from Beck Meadow
Olancha Peak from Beck Meadow
Olancha Peak from Beck Meadow
Olancha Peak from Beck Meadow

Lower Monache Meadow toward Olancha Peak
Lower Monache Meadow toward Olancha Peak
Olancha Peak over South Fork Kern River at lower Monache Meadow
Olancha Peak over South Fork Kern River at lower Monache Meadow

'Icy' South Fork Kern River in morning after a 3 degree night - looking south toward Beck Meadow
'Icy' South Fork Kern River in morning after a 3 degree night - looking south toward Beck Meadow
Olancha Peak from camp on South Fork Kern River at Monache Meadow
Olancha Peak from camp on South Fork Kern River at Monache Meadow

Camp on South Fork Kern River
Camp on South Fork Kern River
Looking down the South Fork Kern River from camp
Looking down the South Fork Kern River from camp

Hiking along South Fork Kern River
Hiking along South Fork Kern River
Ice Boat in South Fork Kern River after 3 degree night
Ice Boat in South Fork Kern River after 3 degree night

Ice jam in South Fork Kern River below Monache Meadow
Ice jam in South Fork Kern River below Monache Meadow
South Fork Kern River south of Monache Meadow
South Fork Kern River south of Monache Meadow

South Fork Kern River
South Fork Kern River
South Fork Kern River
South Fork Kern River

South Fork Kern River
South Fork Kern River
South Fork Kern River
South Fork Kern River

South Fork Kern River near end of road from Monache
South Fork Kern River near end of road from Monache
South Fork Kern River
South Fork Kern River

Leaving South Fork Kern River to climb over saddle to Dutch John Flat
Leaving South Fork Kern River to climb over saddle to Dutch John Flat
Looking back north over South Fork Kern River on way to Dutch John Flat
Looking back north over South Fork Kern River on way to Dutch John Flat

Dutch John Flat
Dutch John Flat
Cabin at Dutch John Flat
Cabin at Dutch John Flat

Lunch stop at Dutch John Flat
Lunch stop at Dutch John Flat