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Canyon bottom hike - stately giant sequoias, towering canyon walls, wild and beautiful Kern River, cute grassy meadows.

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Point to Point

6,743' 2,055 m


6,353' 1,936 m


511' 156 m


121' 37 m



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Max Grade (4°)

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Features Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife


Lower Kern Trail can be hiked in either direction. As described here, it starts at the southern end of Sequoia National Park and runs north along the Kern River for 9 miles to the High Sierra Trail where it ends.

Lower Kern Trail gently climbs in the bottom of Kern Canyon as it follows the Kern River on the Canyon's floor, upstream. The Kern Canyon walls are cliffs from about 1,000 to 3,000 feet tall on both sides of the Canyon. There are a few, but very few breaks in these walls for the entire 19 miles from the start of this trail to Junction Meadow where the Canyon tapers off and the River plunges down from high basins. Additionally, the Canyon is relatively narrow. Thus, with the Canyon's lengthy, tall clff walls and narrow valley floor, this is a very dramatic and special place.

In places Lower Kern Trail is next to the River, and other places it's a bit further away with the River seen through the trees. Although the trail stays at the bottom of Kern Canyon without ever climbing the Canyon's walls, sometimes it looks down on the River, and other times it runs at the same level as the River. Similiarly, in places the trail is at the foot of the Canyon's cliff walls, and in these places it is typically traveling on rock with rock slides and cliffs right there to the left/west. In other places the Canyon's walls are a bit further, but not much further away, with their upper cliffs seen through the trees, as trees hide lower parts of the cliffs. Basically, because the Canyon is relatively narrow, the trail is always close to both the River and Canyon walls.

With that said, the Canyon bottom is mostly forest, beautiful old sequoia forest. The trail mostly travels through the sequoia forest, but occasionally breaks out of the forest when the hillside is too steep for trees right at the foot of the Canyon wall cliffs and rock slides. Along the River, there are small, pretty, grassy meadows in places, that can be seen from the trail; however the trail does not run through these fragile, pristine meadows.

The River varies from calm, meandering waters to powerful, cascading whitewater, and all this is visible from the trail. There is a LOT of water in the Kern River here, having been collected from many upper basins covering a large area. Very impressive.

Landmarks and milestones along this beautiful 9 mile trail are few and far between: Funston Meadow (3.0 mile mark), Rattlesnake Creek, Trail, and Point (6.4 mile mark), and Big Arroyo (7.9 mile mark).

Flora & Fauna

Sequoia forest - awesome TALL trees, where it's not too steep for them to grow. Some beautiful, small grassy meadows along the Kern River on the canyon floor.


Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote


in Kern Canyon


  5.0 from 1 vote
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in Kern Canyon


in California


3 Views Last Month
452 Since May 15, 2022



The beautiful Kern River on a perfect early May morning, just north of the Lower Kern Bridge.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
The pretty Kern River at the bottom of Kern Canyon.  Seen looking north on the Lower Kern Trail.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
Cliffs of the west Kern Canyon walls peak through the sequoia forest along the Lower Kern Trail.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
The beautiful sequoia forest of the Lower Kern Trail.  These are BIG trees.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
2,500 foot cliffs of the west wall of Kern Canyon near the Lower Kern Bridge.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
The Kern River meanders through the broad meadows of the Kern Canyon floor, beneath the 1,200 foot east wall cliffs.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA



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May 3, 2022
Joan Pendleton