Friday, March 4, 2016

Kern River Canyon

Map Link (19 miles, 3400 feet elevation gain)

Bird Lists:

Kern River west

Badger Gap
Kern River East

Only a little over a month away from the start of our Pacific Crest Trail adventure. With the quantity of miles we're putting in these days to train, we're always on the lookout for new and interesting places to hike. Susan came up with this one after a little internet searching. The lower Kern River Canyon can have magnificent flowers in good years. Even without any specific flower reports for the area we decided to give it a go.

The trail system we chose to create a big loop is actually a multi-use adventure trail with 2-wheel motorcycles, horses, and mountain bikes all allowed. But as it is the only choice for getting into these potentially poppy covered hillsides, we hoped for the best. As it was mid-week it was unlikely to have much traffic and we were right about that. We saw nobody all day. The track was built to minimize erosion potential from the hillsides so it wandered aimlessly at times keeping to a relatively shallow grade along contour lines. 

We started by going down-river from the Delonegha Bridge on the Kern River Trail to China Garden, then turned north and climbed the ridge to the Badger Gap trail. After miles of weaving our way in and out of canyons we picked up a trail that took us back down to the river - even if it wasn't the most efficient hiking route. What we did get out of this was plenty of outstanding flower displays, pleasant oak woodland walking, and excellent birding all day long. We had 37 species in all including all the expected species like Oak Titmouse, Nuttall's Woodpecker, and Wrentit. Several Golden Eagles soared above with the Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks. What was reported to be a 13-mile loop measured out on my GPS as more like 19 miles, so we definitely got our miles in!

Westbound down the Kern River
Tansy Phacelia

Kern River

Spider Lupine

Lupine and Phacelia


Blue Dicks

River Trail

Hillside Flowers

Poppies and Lupine

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Spider Lupine

Baby Blue Eyes


Hillside poppies



Owls Clover

California Poppy
Wild Cucumber Vine
Coulter's Jewelflower

Coulter's Jewelflower
Oak Woodland

Walking through the poppies

Poppies everywhere

Oaks and Fiddleneck

Lunchtime view

Walking the ridge

Miner's Lettuce

Final descent back to the river


  1. 19 miles. Suppose that will be a normal day on your PCT trek. Beautiful hike.

  2. 19 miles. Suppose that will be a normal day on your PCT trek. Beautiful hike.