Kern South Fork near Kennedy Meadows


Stretch: Monache Meadow to Long Valley (above Isabella)
Difficulty: Class V with many portages, some flatwater
Distance: 39 miles, many days
Flows: 500 cfs or thereabouts
Gauge: flow information not available
Gradient: 80 fpm average, over 200 fpm in spots
Put-in: Monache Meadow via helicopter or 4WD, 8005'
Take-out: Long Valley Campground via dirt road, 4900'
Shuttle: 20 and 25 mile segments (many hours) one-way, dirt
Maps: USFS Inyo NF, AAA Death Valley
Season: late spring, from snowmelt
Agency: USFS, Dome Land Wilderness
Notes: © 1996 Rocky Contos,

The South Fork Kern remains an exploratory adventure. Only two sections have been run: the 17 mile high-altitude stretch from Monache Meadows to Kennedy Meadows, and the 22 mile granite-dome stretch from Kennedy Meadows to Long Valley. The section from Long Valley to highway 178 near Isabella Reservoir has never been run, owing to a steep-walled gorge that at one point drops 260 feet in less than half a mile.

For a trip report with photographs, see the South Fork Kern River by Rocky Contos.


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