The following is my creation - if you have corrections or updates, please get to me @ jwest0554@gmail.com

Janet Westbrook, Professor of Biology, emeritus,  Naturalist;    updated 7/3/14


9 Mile Canyon road to Sherman Pass Road; Kennedy Meadows,

The Kern Plateau


NO FIREWORKS ANYWHERE UP IN THE FOREST!!!!!  OR ON BLM LANDS EITHER.  NO NO NO!!!

Fishing, hiking, camping seasons are finally here!!! Roads OPEN - Sherman Pass OPEN, Blackrock Station open; All 3 campgrounds are open, but water is limited.  BRING WATER. The springs are dry! :-(

come on up, with water.   remember - no cell phone service= no OnStar service either,  
call Blackrock at 559-539-2607 x 72276   Woodcutting hours severely limited.


*** The Kennedy Meadows General Store IS selling gas!  $4.79, regular unleaded 87 oct only. 9-5 daily.

***it’s DRY up there!!  The little streams are already dry!  You ain’t gonna be fishing much of anywhere.... barely enough water for frogs in a few places.  The Kern is sluggish  and not even flowing - full of algae,  even in Monache - it’s low, slow, green with algae.  Poor fish! 

Fish Creek is dry at the campground and at Fish Creek Overflow!.  Troy has puddles only.  There are a few wildflowers, but not the show we usually have.

However, so far, the campgrounds have not been crowded at all!  It’s cool, not crowded - come on up!  Just can’t fish.... OHV trails open.

No potable water at Paloma Meadow or at Blackrock trailhead!  Blackrock ranger station has drinking water.

It’s even too dry for mosquitoes!  (there are flies though)....

Monache JEEP road is open, but it’s very rough!  it is a JEEP road, not a Subaru /RAV road; clearance and “real”4x4 needed.


Most folks don't realize that this beautiful area of the Southern Sierra even exists!  The Kern Plateau is a unique area because it is a plateau - more or less flat - not at all typical of the rest of the steep-sided Sierra Nevada.  The result is several lazy streams (good fishing) and lovely meadows!  Roads are open in the summer but not when there’s snow.  To the south of Kennedy Meadows is the Domelands Wilderness area, and to the north the South Sierra Wilderness, and north of Blackrock is the Golden Trout Wilderness area.  The PCT comes through here, passing at Kennedy Meadows from Walker Pass, heading north to Whitney area.  Snowmobiles are welcome in winter on roads, not meadows!

However, even though this is Sequoia National Forest, there are NO Giant Sequoia trees on this Plateau. 



Rocks and snow are removed from 9 Mile road by Inyo County,
  Call Kernville USFS to check 
on status of the roads - 760 376- 3781 #2. 

Kennedy Meadows Store open 9-5, DOES HAVE GAS.

Grumpy Bear serving breakfast, lunch, dinner; under new management,
         closed Mon, Tues.

Blackrock info station OPEN which means maps, info, fire permits wood permits and inspections ARE available up there.  
Lovely new
Guard Rails on 9 Mile Canyon Road - 1 mile below Rocky Point, then 1 mile from Rocky Point to the new road.

All Jeep and OHV roads and trails currently OPEN.    Check with Blackrock station (see above phone number) or call Kernville.  760-376-3781   Monache road open, definitely 4x4, high clearance.

Campfire permit can be found here - http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/passespermits/campfire_permit/campfire-index.html 


Chimney Peak and Long Valley, Rockhouse Basin, etc. -north on Hwy 395 to Kennedy Meadows sign 3 miles north of Pearsonville; up Nine Mile Canyon road (all paved, 2-lane);  at the top of the 9 Mile Canyon road about a mile past the cattle guard, opposite the BLM fire station, is the “Scenic Byway” Chimney Peak Road.  It’s dirt all the way and goes up over a ridge and drops down to Lamont Meadow, the Chimney Peak Campground, and on down over Lamont pass to meet Hwy 178 near Onyx.  There is also access to Rockhouse Basin (a wilderness area) near the south end of Lamont Meadow, though the loop road is closed due to washouts right at the KM turn.   Road not graded.  could be rough.


FISHING SEASON April 26 onward- BUT.... The Kern River is not being stocked (again ) - so you’re on your own....fishing right at the South Fork crossing is NOT good.  Fished out!  River too low and warm. Gotta hike to find dinner.
Fishing licenses NOT available on the hill - gotta get at an official sporting goods store with official F&G computer hookup.
The roads and campgrounds ARE OPEN .  Info at Blackrock station.


Kennedy Meadows:  (1 hr. from Ridgecrest)

  1. *north on Hwy 395 to Kennedy Meadows sign 3 miles north of Pearsonville; up Nine Mile Canyon road (all paved, 2-lane)  to Chimney Peak area in the Pinon forest, then north on the paved road another 12 miles over Pine Pass into the Kennedy Meadows area; elev. 6500 ft. GAS AT THE STORE!   (cheaper to fill up at Pearsonville as needed. ) When open in summer, this road continues on over Sherman Pass and down to the North Fork of the Kern River.

  2. *This road is NOT for king-pin trucks ever; large toy-haulers need extreme caution at “Rocky Point”, about 6 miles up the road (not wide enough to pass another toy-hauler!!).  Road is kept open to Kennedy Meadows in the winter - snow is plowed in Tulare County, but chains and/or 4x4 needed in winter when there is snow and ice.  Road closed at the Store in winter.  Inyo County removes rocks from the 9 Mile Canyon road most days.

Less than an hour from the desert to the mountains!! In summer, Kennedy Meadows offers commercial establishments for food,  GAS,  propane, groceries, drinks, souvenirs available at the Kennedy Meadows General Store, and hamburgers and sandwiches at the Chuckwagon BBQ on the Store porch. The Kennedy Meadows campground 3 miles north of the store (straight ahead at the Y intersection near the store) has good fishing as does the crossing of the South Fork of the Kern River 0.5 miles west of the store. Permanent and vacation homes abound here, but there is no electricity or any public utilities except phones. Pay phone located at General Store.  (The Store and “everything else” is left at the Y intersection, labeled Beach Meadow Road - even if it isn’t- it’s the Sherman Pass Road and so labeled after the bridge.)

Grumpy Bear Resort - OPEN, and under new management. Closed Mon, Tues, but
open the rest of the time serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, ice cream.  559 850-BEAR
Ireland's-currently closed.

Kennedy Meadows General Store  559 850-KMGS ;  now selling 87 oct GAS.
Open 9-5   It has a beer and wine on and off premises license (you can drink it on the porch)
** ChuckWagon BBQ features great hamburgers, open 11-4, Sunday brunch 8:30 - 10a.m.
Store has T-shirts, has a few Bear cans, and does accept mail/packages for PCT hikers
-mail USPS to Kennedy Meadows General Store, 3A5, 96440 Beach Meadow Road, Inyokern CA 93527,
or UPS delivery to 96440 Beach Meadow Road, Inyokern CA 93527.  (Fed Ex doesn’t work well, UPS does)
Showers $4. Firewood available, $6. Load of Laundry - check $. Fishing licenses NOT available.   

Internet cafe for PCT hikers just down the road at Tom’s trailer place.

Do not get this KMGS mixed up with the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station and cabins up on Hwy 108 - not the same at all!! No cabins for rent here, just very nice people, good stuff, and a nice place to be on the porch.

Kennedy Meadows phones-most private residences have phones now.  Two pay phones - one at Grumpy Bear Resort - inside the door, credit cards only; one at the KM General Store, little blue booth out by the parking lot - credit cards work best, sometimes coins work...  911 calls go to 911 center at Tulare Co. Sheriff in Visalia, ask for help in Kennedy Meadows - (comes from Ridgecrest in Kern Co)

Kennedy Meadows also has a Volunteer First Aid Team. They are trained in first aid, are not EMT's, have AEDs, no cost to you, are willing to come to anywhere in the area up there to help out and make sure an ambulance or helo gets called if necessary. Call (559) 850-HELP, and you'll be on a party line with the first aid gang. They need to know where you are and what you need.
Kennedy Meadows road has CALL BOXES!!!! (since 2/1/06) calls go to Tulare Co. Sheriff in Visalia, not to the 911 office; call them for whatever - tow truck (call routed through to CHP), ambulance, etc. etc. Bright yellow call boxes on posts, lighted at night, 6 of them, starting at the top of 9 mile, just past the cattle guard, one near the bottom of Pine Pass just north of Churchill mailbox, one just over the top of Pine Pass, about 1/4 mi. north; one just south of Government spring and Pine Canyon Rd, one right across from the Ducor Phone Co, and one up the Campground Road about 3 miles.

July 2000 the Manter Fire burned 74,000 acres of mostly wilderness area, but backfires were set along the paved road from before Pine Pass all the way to Troy Meadows. These fire scars will be there for the rest of our lifetimes.... ie. it will be at least 50+ years before we get enough brush to act as nurse trees for new Piñon trees to sprout in the burned areas. The fire area is interesting to watch recover - grasses and tons of wildflowers, then shrubs, and finally trees. The oldest trees up there are around 150-200 years old, so it's been that long since it last burned. Piñon-Juniper isn't very fire adapted.... Within the burned area there are many islands of unburned land - a refuge for the animals and a seed back for recovery of plants. Recovery will happen, but very, very slowly!! It depends upon water and snow - and the Southern Sierra is much drier than the rest of the range.. None of the homes in the Kennedy Meadows area proper were affected. Homes down in Pine Canyon burned. The campgrounds are all OK.

To add insult to injury, another huge 150,000 acre McNally fire occurred July 2002. It burned the upper regions of the Plateau and down the Sherman Pass road, mostly in "mixed conifer" forest, but the chaparral and drier areas really took a hit! Same story - it's a wonderland of wildflowers for the next many years, and the USFS is planting after salvage-logging the burned ones.   However, most of what you can see from the roads is just beautiful forest!! 

 Farther along the Sherman Pass road in summer are green meadows, more campgrounds, more fishing, hiking, horse trails, OHV trails, mountain lookouts, etc.   The main road is paved all the way, but side roads are all dirt. 

Another 10 miles beyond the Kennedy Meadows store takes you into "true" Southern Sierra mountain country with streams and green meadows and summer wildflowers. Fish Creek Campground is on Fish Creek, as is Troy Meadows Campground. Troy is often used as a base for OHV exploring the area. Motorcycles are allowed on certain of the southern Sequoia National Forest trails. Ask at Blackrock Station for maps and other information, woodcutting and wilderness permits, etc. This area is also great for firewood cutting - get permits and chain saw inspection at Blackrock or in Kernville.

ALL roads up here were put in for logging.  Most are still usable but some have been water-bared closed. Respect the closures - there are plenty of open dirt roads to explore!!  Get a USFS map at Blackrock so you understand the numbering system.

**In 2012 the USFS was supposed to be installing those lovely vault toilets like Troy CG has at the other campgrounds and at Beach, Bonita, and even Monache!  (well, maybe 2014....or not)  Nice new on on top of Sherman pass.

Note:  street-legal green-sticker motorcycles ARE allowed on designated trails on the Kern Plateau. (This is the ONLY forest where this is allowed!) Horses are encouraged to use other trails, or stay in the Wilderness areas where motorcycles can’t go.  Horse people use Beach Meadow and Paloma Meadow and motorcycles are asked to stay away from those areas.

West from Blackrock (straight ahead at the intersection) 5 miles is beautiful Beach Meadows, a popular place for horse people (motorcycles not welcomed if horses present).  Camping and toilets. The road continues to Lion Meadows.

North from Blackrock (turn right at intersection)  8 miles at the end of the road at Blackrock are trails into the Golden Trout Wilderness Area. It is a lovely 2 mile hike into beautiful Casa Vieja Meadows, and another 3 miles down to Jordan Hot Springs. The resort is gone, but the hot pools are still there.  About 5 miles in on the main road is also access to the Monache Jeep Road - 4x4 and high clearance definitely required!  , and Powell and Granite Knob Meadows.  A dirt road leads to beautiful Osa Meadow.   Lots of hiking trails! Lots of Motorcycle trails as well.  The Monache road is for rugged 4x4’s only, not really good for Subarus or RAV’s - there are some serious rock-crawling places and in Monache, some deep stream crossings.  Great for Jeeps.  The road is narrow - “dulies” will scrape fenders on the trees near the top.  It’s a JEEP road. Motorcycles work too, of course, but it’s really rugged!  Great deer hunting in season!  Fishing  (not this year) in the Kern River.  Huge sand dune area.  Lots to explore if you can get there!

South from Blackrock (turn left at the intersection) the road continues past some lovely meadows - Bonita, Paloma, (horse corrals, toilet)  all the way to Sherman Pass and down into the North Fork of the Kern River; south to Kernville or west to Johnsondale and over into the Central Valley via California Hot Springs or Camp Nelson!!   You could get to Sequoia National Park by going through California Hot Springs or Camp Nelson, but it’d take FOREVER.  Much quicker and much more pleasant roads to go to Sequoia NP by way of Bakersfield, Porterville, and Springville.  See map. 

There are many dirt roads heading off into “the woods”.  Most have only USFS signs with numbers on them - you’ll need a USFS map to make sense of all this.  Get at Blackrock Info station or in Kernville.   Dispersed camping IS allowed in the forest.  Obtain a fire permit at Blackrock and understand the regulations and closures - but other than that,  enjoy the forest!

Motorized vehicles and mountain bikes ARE allowed on the trails on the Plateau.

Sherman Pass is about 90 miles from Ridgecrest, 2.5 hrs. whether you get there via 9 Mile Road or come up from Kernville.  This makes a great loop trip in the summer!!!!

6 miles south of Blackrock on the Sherman Pass Road, take the dirt road to the east 2 miles up onto Bald Mountain. Park and hike the rest of the way up to the fire lookout tower. It's 40 feet up off the rocks, but what a view!! - north to Mt. Langley and Mt. Whitney, west to the Kaweahs, east to Red Mountain, south to the Piutes. Visitors are welcome from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bald Mountain itself has interesting geology - metasedimentary seafloor rocks, not Sierra granite, and as a result is very different botanically. A "botanical reserve" has been set aside to protect the flora here, which includes 5 kinds of pine trees, 2 fir trees, the western juniper, and a host of endemic plants.  You may climb the 40 ft. high fire lookout tower 8-5 and visit with the fire watcher person there. The views from Bald Mountain are outstanding!!  2 miles of narrow dirt road, park at the gate and walk .3 mi. up to the top of the mountain.  No water available.

Pit toilets and drinking water only at the campgrounds and at Blackrock Station.  Pit toilets at some of the meadows, water and toilets at the campgrounds.

Sherman Pass Road is NOT a shortcut (time-wise) to Sequoia National Park, nor can you see Sequoia trees on this road on the Kern Plateau- they're over on the other side of the Sierra and on Hwy 190. There are nice 20 ft. diameter trees at "Trail of 100 Giants" on Hwy 190 out of Johnsondale, and these roads are open.   Get to Sequoia National Park through Bakersfield and Porterville, NOT this way!

On the west side of Sherman Pass is the Cherry Hill road which leads to even more lovely meadows and campgrounds.

Wilderness Areas - Domelands Wilderness is south of the road, there are oodles of rounded granite domes, lovely meadows, etc. - hiking trails abound, but best in spring or fall.  Watch for rattlesnakes!!  South Sierra Wilderness is north of the road and the PCT goes through it from Kennedy Meadows Campground.  Great meadows, streams, etc.  And the gem of all - the Golden Trout Wilderness area, north of Blackrock roadhead, including Jordan Hot Springs, Rock Creek Lakes, etc.  Great fishing for California’s state fish, the Golden Trout. 

Summer: Your puppy is welcome on trails unless marked otherwise - on a leash, of course. Mountain Bikes OK on trails unless marked otherwise. Camping in the forest OK, unless marked otherwise. Fires only in "Fire Safe" areas and only with a permit, but if the weather cooperates, you can do that too. (That's what makes a forest different from a Park). Enjoy!!

If you see something squishy, or rocky, or nasty or white- STOP before you get stuck!! It's not going to get any better farther ahead.  Cell phones don’t work. You’re stuck!
BE CAREFUL!! getting AAA up there to haul you out will cost your retirement! (IF you can get them to come at all) Remember that cell phones don't work. SPOT or the new DeLorme InReach will because they use satellites, not cell phone towers like OnStar. 

Did you get a shiny new satellite GPS for Christmas? Don't rely on it anywhere in the mountains!! (If it's a cell-phone GPS app, it may not work at all) They are GREAT in cities, but in wild places (ie. anything between cities, and especially in the desert and mountains) the maps can mislead you! They don't know which roads are closed by snow in winter. They don't know which roads may be too rocky or 4x4 is needed. Sometimes they show roads that don't even exist anymore. PLEASE USE SOME COMMON SENSE WHEN FOLLOWING YOUR GPS out in the wild places! ACTUALLY, TURN IT OFF AND GET A REAL USFS MAP. They don't tell you to keep driving until you get stuck in deep snow or deep sand. TURN AROUND if it doesn't seem right!!!!! Actually, DON'T TRUST GPS ROAD MAPS FOR ANY DIRT ROADS!  Get a USFS map that shows the USFS numbering system (the roads don’t have names, just numbers). Blackrock sells maps.
Please remember that cell phones don't always work well in wild places either- like probably not. Technology is great, BUT.... If cell phones don't work, your "On Star" and GPS app, or any app, won't work either unless it’s a satellite connection.   SPOT and Delorme devices that hook to satellites DO work.

FISHING SEASON opens the last Saturday of April until Nov. 16. However, stocking places have changed. See DFG website. http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Hatcheries/FishPlanting/InlandDeserts.asp South Fork of Kern River, Kennedy Meadows, is among those not being stocked anymore.  Has to do with hybrid Golden Trout.

Hunting Seasons vary - see Cal Fish & Game for dates and permits.  Deer, bear, quail and chuckar, etc.

No motels, no B&B, no rentals of any kind available on the Kern Plateau. Camp overnight, or else head home.  There is a motel on the North Fork road down in the canyon, but that’s it.

Dispersed camping is allowed in the forest. Get a fire permit at Blackrock Station.  Know fire restrictions! They’re tight right now - very, very dry up there!  Might not be able to even have a cook stove or lantern, it’s that bad!

CELL PHONES DO NOT WORK ON THE KERN PLATEAU, NOR DOES ON-STAR

There is gas on the hill at the General Store. . Suggest you fill up at Pearsonville and Kernville...come up the hill with full tanks.    Sorry to repeat that again, but folks come to the Store wanting to rent a motel.  Nope.

Note - Marijuana farms have been found all over the eastern Sierra - even in roadless areas, and in most of the Sierra canyons. Be VERY careful!!  They rounded up a whole bunch in OUR area last July.  egad. 

BRING DRINKING WATER!!  There just isn’t any stream or spring water this summer!