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).
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.